Metal detectors are of particular importance to woodworkers; how many times have you heard horror stories of expensive saw and planer blades being rendered useless by a stray piece of metal lodged deep in a piece of stock that wasn’t identified until it was too late?
Reviewing the Lumber Wizard , we would like to mention that we owned a downgraded version of this model and the only reason we upgraded was the 2” limit. The Little Wizard allows detection for up to 2” of wood so anything beyond that doesn’t register and needless to say we needed the large scanning field.
Now, the Lumber Wizard is just a fancy name for your regular metal detector in terms of core functionality and is priced at a reasonable $99.95 but is worth the investment in terms of the money and time you’re saving replacing other blades. There have been a few revisions to the core functionality; the latest model is the Lumber Wizard III but at its core this review covers all the basics.
According to the manufacturer, Wizard Detectors, the Lumber Wizard III “responds equally well to all types of metal, steel, stainless steel, zinc, magnesium and aluminum. This helps locate bullets, nails, blades, and any metallic object.” It’s a standard line and provides the expected level of coverage for most woodworking jobs.
While there are some high line blades that can cut through interfering metal, since using this detector we don’t suffer from sudden kickbacks or blade jams which, needless to say, are pretty hazardous in the workshop.
Clocking in at 18”l x 2 ½”w x 1 1/8”h (at the sensor and 2” at the handle mark), it’s roughly about the size and appearance of an airport security wand. Due to its light weight of 13 ounces / 0.0368 kg it tends to be easy to use for long periods of time and is particularly useful for detecting metals in structures relating to renovations.
Running off of a single 9v battery, Wizard Detector states that it lasts about 40 hours which is a long time and normally you won’t need to use it longer than an hour or two per usage, so that’s a pretty useful feature. You won’t need to spend too much time recharging or replacing the battery since it alerts you with a combination of auditory and visual warnings when the battery’s running low. If you choose to elect for a rechargeable battery like we did, that might save you both time and money.
There might be a need to calibrate the Lumber Wizard III before first time use along with checking the calibration on a monthly basis to ensure that everything is working as it should; takes about 10 seconds on average. All you need to do is switch it on, turning the adjustment screw slowly until the sound just stops. The unit also uses an automatic tuning receive/transmit circuit that provides a precision detection pattern eliminating errors or false alarms during use.
When the unit detects metal, it emits a light continuous sound which while it’s not very loud should be audible for most woodworkers. Higher end detectors tend to give out interminably increasing auditory pulses during detection of metal which helps in pinpointing the exact source, but this isn’t a very big hindrance. The sound can either be turned on or off although it can’t be made louder or quieter. It will also gently vibrate once a piece of metal has been detected. If you’d rather not have a beeping sound or vibration alert to inform you of the presence on metal, and choose to turn them off, a red light lights up when a problematic piece is detected. That said, we wouldn’t advise turning them off. However, in case you’re working during the night, there is a jack for plugging in headphones so you can hear the sound through those when trying to locate metal.
Over all, this is a great detection unit although it does have its limitations in terms of how small a piece of metal it can detect in a deep piece of wood. Any piece of stock having a thickness greater than 7” will have a bit of trouble with Lumber Wizard III.
But for the most part, this is a fast and efficient solution to broken blades and blade protection of table saws, band saws, jointer, planer, router bits, etc. And for the $99.95 price tag, it’s a steal.