Searching for solid home-project supports

A few high-tech and low-tech solutions to try

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We've all seen those instructions that come with a new cabinet, shelf or any of a variety of other household items: "Requires solid support. Attach directly to wall studs" or words to that effect. Good advice, but how do you go about finding those often elusive studs in a wall that's covered with drywall or plaster? It's a dilemma that has faced homeowners and contractors alike, and a number of high-tech and low-tech solutions have evolved over the years. Here are a few worth trying on your next project: Check interior moldings: Your first step, which is the most conservative and least destructive, is to look for clues that give away the location of concealed studs. You can examine horizontal moldings such as baseboards and chair rails, and look for nail holes. If the molding is stained or has a natural clear finish, fastener locations are often easy to find, even if the nail heads have been puttied over. On painted moldings, look for very slight depressions or discolorations –...