Sunday, October 14, 2007
I just realized that this story becomes chaotic pretty fast. Hmm... Let it be - and when it's all said and done, I'll reorganize it so it makes chronological sense for those planning, and find it a permanent place at DZ site.
If you think you have all the tools, think again. The only tool I had to buy was a high torque drill - your usual 1/3 HP kind gets stuck when equipped with bits starting about 7/8", and, in general, more powerful tools mean less kickback and more precision.
Drill bits differ - spades are cheaper but very rough, splinter wood badly on exit, but sometimes may be the only option. Forstner bits are much more expensive, but produce an exact opening - and unlike spades which go astray under slightest provocation, they are self-guiding and it is possible to use one to enlarge a preexisting hole. Remember that Forstner bits are usually pretty short - and the lengths you will have to drill through may exceed 8" (visualize door header left in the wall when someone decided they no longer wanted a door there).
Instead of buying a long bit, buy a short one and an extender - otherwise you might end up a short bit *and* a long bit, which is not that cost effective keeping in mind that one extender will work with many bits.
I will try to avoid using center bits for a while - the Ridgid one I bought broke on the first try - the center piece disengaged from the rest of the bit and got stuck in the wood. Took me lengthy and painful efforts to get it out of there - it happened in quite an inaccessible place.
Absolute must for this project (in my book) is a jigsaw - though you may get away with a drywall knife. It'll just take longer. Decent fish tape won't hurt, either.
A really bad surprise was the amount of dust drywall generates. The cleanest solution is to have a helper with a shopvac standing next to you - worked pretty well for me. Nevertheless, invest in a decent respirator (expensive) and goggles (cheapest and biggest work just fine). Cover all things with vents on the upside with a dust-opaque cloth (plastic is not a good idea because it will not let the air from those vents up - you're risking to kill your equipment).
Don't forget to replace the HVAC filters when you're done.
Be prepared that you will damage or destroy insulation behind the walls you're opening, so plan on either taking extreme measures not to contaminate it with drywall dust (I don't think it's possible), or live with it, or reinforce or replace the insulation altogether (may or may not be possible, depending on the location and size of the opening). Also remember that fiberglass does get under your skin - you may not notice it within first five minutes, but you will for sure notice it within first five days.
The Great Wiring Project, part 1
The Great Wiring Project, part 3