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You got a nice log. You started cutting it and then bam! Your tool is damaged because of a metal object inside the log. So you need to find tramp metal before your saw does (this will not be good). A metal detector like the bounty hunter 4 could save a lot of time and money.
Do I need a metal detector?
Tramp metal can damage your saw badly (and buying a new one is not fun) depending on the machine you are using and the type and the size of the metal inside the log. One nail stuck in a tree could damage 3 to 5 teeth of your saw.
Sometimes, the damage could be minor, you only have to sharpen the blade and resume working. In some cases, the object is too soft that you can saw through it without a problem like lead bullets.
Common things you can find inside a log are nails and fence wire. You can find bullets too. Trees can grow around a nail and as time goes by you could find it inches deep. So spending some time looking for metals before you start using your saw may save you a lot of money.
Yard trees are not like forest trees. In the first ones, you may find many nails; try to avoid them if possible.
What is the best metal detector for logs?
There are two types of metal detectors:
Metal detectors with a stem
The bounty hunter TK4 is affordable. It has three discrimination modes. But, you need only one of them which is the “all metal mode”. So that the detector emits a beep whenever it detects any type of metal.
The other modes tell the detector to ignore certain types of metal. This feature, i.e. the discrimination, is helpful for gold hunters for example.
The detector will only emit an audio signal if it detects gold. That way, the user will only dig a hole in the ground if there is gold and he saves a lot of time and effort.
But, we don’t need this feature for log cutting. So stick to the “all metal” mode.
The bounty hunter 4 is easy to use. It has a switch to choose the discrimination mode and a knob to adjust it. And because you will work with “all metal” mode, you don’t have to worry about them. It has also a knob to adjust the sensitivity.
Its screen is simplistic too. It has a low battery indicator and a needle indicator for the target strength that you do not really need to look at. Because the audio signal is enough.
If you want a more advanced detector, check the Garrett ace 300. This device has an adjustable stem. Its length can vary between 40″ and 53″.
The screen of this detector gives more information than the previous model. But we don’t really need any of them for woodworking except the depth indicator.
The screen can tell you the type of metal inside the wood. This feature is helpful for relics, coin or gold hunters to help them decide whether digging a hole is worth it or not.
But, as a woodworker, you don’t really need this feature. Because you will remove the tramp metal anyway. In addition to that, you will mostly find nails and wire fence.
So, you already know what you will find even without the screen.
The depth indicator may help you know to which side of the metal is the closest. But it is designed to work with coins and since you will mostly find nails, the detector will indicate that they are deeper than they really are. But it may help you decide which side of the log to dig in.
What is good about this metal detector is that it can detect metal objects up to 8 inches deep inside the log. Which is great. This way you will not miss any nail.
To wrap up, stem type detectors have good depth and accuracy. So they can detect tramp metal inside log efficiently. But, they have too many features that we don’t need for woodworking.
Their stem enables you to work easier without having to lean. And you can use them for other activities like coins and relics hunting.
Handheld metal detectors
There are three types of handheld metal detectors. The first type is used in airports for security purpose. They are not designed to detect nails they work better with guns and knives.
The second one is pinpointers. They are used with a standard metal detector to help you locate the metal in the ground, they are easy to carry and are usually waterproof. But their depth range is limited.
One popular model that woodworkers use is the lumber wizard. It works well with flat boards. But, they cannot detect metal deeper than a couple of inches below the bark. So they’re not suitable for logs.
To conclude, none of the handheld detectors is suitable for logs. However they are perfect for flat boards.
How to get the metal out the log?
Swing the metal detector around the log to find the tramp metal. Place the log a little bit high because the ground beneath it may contain metal and you only want to search the log, not the soil.
You can place it on timber bearers or on a wooden table. Keep the tools (saw, hammer…) away from the search coil so that they do not interfere with it.
If you detect a metal, find its exact location. The Garrett ace 250 can do that easily or you can use a pinpointer. Check from many sides so that you find the easiest location to dig.
Start digging a hole until you see the metal. After that, enlarge the diameter of the hole you have already dug to be able to remove the metal object with a plier or the hammer claw.
Do not forget to check again. Maybe there is another metal object underneath it, you did not see.
You can expect (not always, it is an inkling) to find a nail in the wood if you see a black spot at the butt ends on the log.
Wet wood may trick the detector and it cannot detect a metal object even you can see it with your naked eye.
The depth range of metal detectors with stems is ideal to work with logs. And they are universal: you can use them to do other activities, in addition to woodworking, like coin and gold hunting.
Handheld detectors are easier to carry but they can’t go deep enough inside a log. It does well with flat boards but not with logs. So, the best metal detector for logs is a model with a stem like the bounty hunter 4.