How to Use a Metal Detector: Tips for Beginners

A man using his metal detector on the beach.

The first thing that you should know about metal detecting is that it can be a very fun hobby! In this blog post, we are going to go over the basics of metal detection for beginners. We will discuss what a metal detector is and why you would want to use one. You will also learn how to find treasure with your new metal detector and some more tips on how to get started in this exciting hobby!

What is a metal detector and how does it work?

A metal detector is used to detect the presence of metals near the surface. It detects metals through electromagnetic fields [1], using an antenna and circuit that create a small alternating current. When this current encounters conductivity in the ground, such as when it comes into contact with buried iron or other electronically conductive minerals, eddy currents are created. These eddy currents generate a magnetic field that can be detected by the metal detector and identified as being caused by buried metals, thus revealing their location in the ground to you.

Best places for beginners to start

The best way to start is in an open field where there’s little chance of interference from other metal objects. This will allow you to get a feel for how the detector works before trying your luck at places which can be cluttered.

Once you are more familiar with the process (and we will tell you how later in this article), there are many places to metal detect, but some that work best for beginners include beaches and parks. To increase your chances of finding something valuable, we recommend using a beach detector near the waterline where people might have lost jewelry or coins in the sand while at the shore. Parks can be great because they often feature playgrounds with slides and swings that could have been littered with coins or jewelry.

Best Metal Detectors

Metal Detectors for Beginners

Best Pinpointer Metal Detectors

How to pick the right metal detector for beginners?

There are many factors that will determine what kind of metal detector you should choose. Some of the things to consider are:

Cost : Metal detectors vary in price.

Location: There are both underwater and handheld metal detectors. Handheld metal detectors can be used for small jobs like locating dropped items or detecting jewelry inside a box, drawer, etc. Underwater metal detectors are suitable for scuba diving expeditions and other water activities to find lost anchors, hooks, and other items.

Size : If you have a large area to cover, get a metal detector with good range. If the size of your job is limited, choose an affordable model that’s easy to use.

detecting

Weight: Since you have to carry your metal detector to and from your job site, choose one that’s lightweight.

Ease of use: Some metal detectors are easier to operate than others so make sure you read the manual before purchasing a detector as a beginner.

Purpose: What are you looking for? Is it coins or jewelry or something else entirely? You’ll want to pick out a metal detector that is designed for your particular job.

Once you know what kind of metal detecting interests you, this process will be much easier. To make things even more simple, check out this list of beginner friendly metal detectors that are simple to get started and at the same time will help you find a lot of valuable treasures along the way.

How to tune your metal detector?

On a metal detector, there are usually two knobs. One is labeled Sensitivity and the other is labeled Threshold. When you’re just starting out, it’s best to set both of these at the default position which is about medium for each one. If you know your local environment has lots of metals (like mines), then turn the sensitivities up and the threshold down.

  • Sensitivity: This control will tell you how deep into the earth’s surface your detector can detect metal. A general rule is to set this knob at a medium sensitivity when first starting out, then adjust it based on what type of ground conditions you are detecting in (coarse dirt vs sandy beach). This setting can help you detect metal that is deep in the ground, but at the same time it may also pick up false signals. So try to increase this setting if a lot of signal interference is stopping your detector from detecting metals near the surface.
  • Threshold: This control will tell you how many different metals your detector can detect. You want this set at a medium position for beginners as well, or if you are detecting in an area with lots of metal (like mines), then turn it up to match the sensitivity setting.
  • Ground Balance: Adjust the ground balance to suit your environment and metal type (coarse dirt vs sand). Different types of metals need different settings, so experiment with this knob if you are detecting in an area that has lots of metal on the surface or if there is a lot of iron around from old mines.

After that, experiment by turning these knobs up and down to see what they do. When you follow these steps, you will become more familiar with your detector and better understand it. 

Metal detecting tips to keep in mind before your adventure

  • Remember: always use safety first! [2] Metal detecting can lead to injury if you’re not careful.
  • Never go metal detecting in any areas that are unsafe, such as pipelines and abandoned homes. 
  • Always have a buddy with you when metal detecting to ensure your safety!
  • If you’re using a larger detector like the Garrett Ace 250, make sure that you have an ample supply of search coils with you before heading out on your adventure.

It’s not easy, but with a little time and practice, you can be an avid metal detectorist. Try some of the advice in this post to get started on your search for hidden treasure. Another unexpected and fun way of learning a lot of helpful tidbits about metal detecting for beginners would be by checking out some popular TV shows. We have a list of the “6 best metal detecting TV shows” from which we have learnt a lot! 

Happy (metal) hunting folks!