Metal Detecting Tips for Beginners

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  • Post last modified:January 18, 2021

The following metal detecting tips are tried and true and should be the first order of business for anyone new to the hobby of metal detecting. Applying these tips and trick will help you become better at metal detecting! Give some of them a try.

We are always looking for new tips and tricks, if you have any you think we should add contact us here.

Places to go Metal Detecting

Here’s some ideas of places where you can go metal detecting. Always remember to get permission before metal detecting any new site.

  • Backyards – Are a great place to go metal detecting. You can expect to make great finds metal detecting the yards of older houses. Look for old clothes lines, tree swings, flower beds, porches and walkways. Finds will not be limited to these areas, but they are usually hot spots. What you’ll find depends on the type of activities that took place throughout the years, but generally can expect to finds coins, jewelry, toys and maybe a cache of coins or other valuables.
  • Beaches – Are a great place to find lost valuables with your metal detector. Look for areas where people congregate during the busy season.
  • Parks – Parks can offer a wealth of good metal detecting finds. Remember the older the better! Look for – old trees, pathways, fence lines, ball fields and play areas.
  • Woods – There are a lot of good metal detecting spots hidden within the forest and wooded lots. Look for – paths, stone walls, depressions in the ground, foundations and spring houses. Usually being very old and hidden from most other hobbyists these area offer some of the best metal detecting opportunity.
  • Riverbanks – Rivers and waterways have been used for thousands of years for travel and commerce. Though the metal detecting can get rough in these areas they are well worth the effort. Do some research, find where the ferry landings, swimming holes and grooves were.

Learn your Metal Detector Inside and Out

When first started metal detecting I asked an old timer how I could become better at metal detecting, how could I improve my finds? The answer he gave me was, learn your metal detector, Read the manual that came with your detector and just when you think you understand it read it again.

His second reply was, start digging everything, and learn what your metal detector is trying to tell you. Digging everything at first is the only way of doing this.

Finally he advised me to get a metal detector suited for beginners and avoid all the bells and whistles that I don’t need.

Research before Metal Detecting!

Metal Detecting Research

Most of us before buying a metal detector have dreams of finding a fist full of silver and gold at that Old Park or fairground we had been to as children. This could not be further from the truth.

Chances are those places have already been hit with a metal detector and hit hard! Not saying you won’t find anything in these areas, but chances are the pickings will be slim.

I won’t go into detailed research techniques that would require a whole article in itself, but I will give you some pointers “tips”.

Some of the easiest and best metal detecting can be found around old homes in your area. Start talking to property owners explain the hobby of metal detecting to them, ask for permission to metal detect their land. If everything pans out fire it up and start metal detecting. I have yet to metal detect an old yard without finding something good.

There are many sources of information that you can use to find prime metal detecting ground. Some of these are old maps, old newspapers, old post cards and historic journals.

One thing to keep in mind. Don’t complicate your research efforts! You are looking for potential metal detecting sites not comprising a detailed history of your area.

Metal Detector Swinging and Gridding techniques

Once you are on a prime spot for metal detecting you want to find every last goodie the ground has to give up, so you’re swinging and gridding technique has to be up to par.

There is no point in metal detecting good ground if you’re walking right over 70% of the goods.

Swinging your metal detector, this is by far one of the most important aspects of metal detecting. When you swing the coil of your metal detector you want to be sure the coil is parallel to the ground and as close as possible to the ground without actually touching throughout your full swing.

Letting the coil of your metal detector touch the ground can cause erratic operation and false signals, swinging the loop of your metal detector in a pendulum action will cause a major loss of depth on full right and left.

Metal-detecting swing

Running a grid will help to ensure that you are metal detecting every inch of the ground you are on. The easiest way to metal detect in a grid like pattern is to work one small area at a time in both directions. This may seem like overkill, but if you are on good ground you really don’t want to pass up anything!


Once you have pinpointed the target, clear the surface material and check the hole again for the signal. If there is no signal, then the target is amongst the surface material. In this case, search the area until you have located the target.

If, however, the signal is still there, remove a few inches of soil from the surface of the ground. If the target in not visible, sweep the coil over the hole again. The signal should become louder. If it does, continue your digging.

Take care of how you dig. A swift blow to an object with a pick could deface a valuable coin or split a piece of gold in two. If the object is not clearly visible you might need to scan the soil which has been dug up, so be sure to pile the soil carefully whilst digging.

Scanning the Soil

There are two methods of scanning this soil: Spread the soil out, then sweep the coil over it to locate the target. (Be sure that there is no object buried in the ground below the soil).

Lay the coil on its side near the hole. Pick up a handful of soil from the pile and pass it across the coil. If there is no signal then place the soil in a second pile away from the first and grab another handful of soil.

Continue this process until you receive a signal; the target is now in your hand. Sift through the soil until the object is located. Once the target has been recovered it is a good idea to run the detector over the hole again to make sure that there are no other targets to be found.

Once a target has been found, there is a high chance that more targets are close by, so it is advisable to search the surrounding area extremely carefully.