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Lumber Wizard™ 4
So metal and cutters shall never meet
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 8-17-2012
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 was supposedly designed for woodworkers who use reclaimed wood. However, it is also mandatory for woodworkers who do not want to find themselves stomping around the shop bemoaning a freshly killed cutter lost to a piece of metal that the Lumber Wizard™ 4 would probably have told them about. And yes, afterwards is too late so read this, go get a Lumber Wizard™ 4 and then use it!
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 is hand held metal detector much like those wielded by the TSA folks at airports. At 15-in long by 3-1/8-in wide and 1-1/8-in tall with a trim curb weight of 13-oz the Lumber Wizard™ 4 is neither difficult nor tiring to use. Those dimensions along with a lanyard on the handle should also make storing this tool where you can find it easy in virtually any shop.
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 is designed to detect most metals including steel, stainless steel, zinc, magnesium, and aluminum. That enables it to “see” even small objects within the wood such as nails, screws, staples, tacks, bullets, wire and more. All of these kinds of objects can damage or destroy the cutters in jointers, planers, routers, shapers, table saws and more.
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 runs on a single 9V-battery that provides about 40 hours of normal use if you buy decent batteries. The only controls are the On/Off and stay on switches that control the scanning electronics. There also is an On/Off and stay on switch that controls the laser feature.
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 uses an automatic tuning transmit/receive circuit (13 kHz / 6,600 Hz.) that helps reduce false “finds” caused by ambient metal such as rebar in the concrete floor you are standing on and other metal objects in the area. The audible and visual warnings also warn of battery discharge before that actually happens.
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 uses a Piezo tone beeper and red LED “laser” light as alarms to let you know that it found metal. The Lumber Wizard™ 4 sensitivity is fully adjustable using an access hole just ahead of the handle. Reaching in with a screwdriver to make the adjustment means you won’t accidentally change that setting during use.
The actual depths to which the Lumber Wizard™ 4 works varies with the type of wood, its moisture content and a bunch of other things but in all of my testing scanning both sides of virtually any commonly used lumber is not necessary. If the wood is more than ¾”-thick, run the Lumber Wizard™ 4 over both sides then again after removing some of the wood. The scan takes just seconds but can save a ton of money and work.
New to the Lumber Wizard™ 4 is the laser indicator line that shows you exactly where on the board you are scanning. This will make finding hidden objects a bunch easier because it dramatically reduces the potential area you have to search. The laser can also be a sort of sight that lets you be sure that a specific area is being scanned.
In the Shop
There is a small bit of fine-tuning of the Lumber Wizard™ 4 to set it for your shop environment when you first get it but after that you literally push the button and start scanning. The other controls are the push buttons for engaging the audible and laser warnings. You can use both or either one, it’s up to you.
The last 6 inches of the Lumber Wizard™ 4 is where the actual scanning takes place. The coil that detects the metal is located there and that makes running it over a board easier with less chance of dragging you knuckles on the edge of the wood.
During my in shop testing I was able to detect normal sized screws (brass and steel) along with a smaller finish nail through15/16”-thick red oak. In fact, see the photos and video and notice that I didn’t even put the fasteners IN the wood but rather simply taped them on the bottom surface so the Lumber Wizard™ 4 had to “see” through the entire thickness to find the metal. If you are working with very thick wood you might have to scan it twice during machining just to be sure but the Lumber Wizard™ 4 still checks for metal way faster than you can replace a killed knife or cutter.
I have used a previous version of the Lumber Wizard™ 4 in my shop for years and aside from replacing the battery once so far, it has worked fine the entire time. And more importantly, I have not run a screw or nail through my planer, jointer or table saw either!
The Lumber Wizard™ 4 is a handy bit of electronics that really does have a place in all of our woodworking shops. With a street price of just $169.99 (8-16-2012) you can afford to buy a couple Lumber Wizard™ 4’s for what an extra cutter set costs for many machines. Save yourself the time, money and frustration and get a Lumber Wizard™ 4. Then teach yourself to actually USE it!
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