Running wiring in existing walls

Not a whole lot of progress tonight. We cooked dinner out on the grill because it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week. Might as well do it while we can. So we cooked burgers for dinner, chicken for another night, and Irene cooked some sausage on the side burner for another egg bake. We also wanted to watch a little prime time TV like normal people that aren’t ripping apart their kitchen. LOL

What I did get done is more work on our electrical. There will be two outlets in the long wall we did not rip down. One will be placed at counter height to accommodate a future buffet table along that wall. The other will be placed at floor height just to satisfy the NEC rule of an outlet every six feet of wall. I needed to cut holes in the wall for the old work or cut-in boxes as they are known.

If you have plain drywall this is pretty easy. We have plaster over drywall so it gets a bit more involved. At least we don’t have plaster and lathe! I’ll go through the steps I’ve developed for cutting holes for boxes in this combination of wall materials. I know it’s not-too-common but I know I’m not the only one out there with it.

  1. Start by tracing the shape of the box on the wall with a pencil. I held a small level against the box while tracing to make sure the lines were level.
  2. Place painters tape along the outside of the lines you made forming a box.
  3. Cut the plaster along your pencil lines with a razor to scorethe surface. Three passes seems to do the trick.
  4. Drill two holes in opposite corners of your box. I use a 1″ diameter blade type bit.
  5. Insert a keyhole saw into the holes you drilled and cut out the box using the tape as a guide.

Cutting plaster with keyhole saw

The next step was to run new cable from one of the new boxes to this newly cut out hole. I ran the cable through the basement. This is the easiest way to run new cables through your house if you have one and it’s unfinished or has a drop ceiling. If you don’t have a basement you can run them in the attic. Because I would be crossing the water supply pipes with this cable I decided to drill though the floor joists instead of using running boards (a subject I’ll have to expand on later). It’s perfectly safe to drill a small hole through a floor joist like the 2×8 below. Just make sure you drill though the center, the stresses are the lowest there. An auger bit makes quick work of drilling holes for the wiring. This one is 5/8″ diameter.Drilling holes in floor joist
Cable run through holes.
After drilling a hole through the floor from the basement in just the right spot I had to fish the cable up to the hole in the wall. Sometimes you can just shove the cable up through the wall and it comes out the right spot. Other times you need to use a fishhook as it’s known.

  1. I had to start from the bottom and run the fishhook up through the hole in the floor until I could reach in the hole in the wall and grab it.
  2. Get a piece of spare wire, or a string and hook it around the end of the fishhook.
    Fishhook with spare wire attached
  3. Pull the fishhook down from the basement until the spare wire or string appears. Unattach the fishhook and attach the cable you want to pull to the spare wire or string.
    Attach cable to spare wire or string
  4. Go back upstairs and pull the spare wire or string out of the wall until the cable appears. Fold the cable down to keep it from slipping back down into the wall.
    Retrieve and secure your newly fished cable
  5. Profit!
    Install your cut-in box
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