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#164545 - 06/05/07 10:28 PM Gangable cut-in box routing instructions  
e57  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
I hope I am not the only one who occassionaly has this problem? I often will refuse to cut cabinetry, depending on its value... And will have either the GC or cabinet maker do it. Same goes for certain other finishes or the like.

Just about all the time, I get asked how big the hole needs to be, how big is the plate, etc, etc.... I answer, and leave it in the capable hands of someone who should have the where-with-all to deal with wood... As I intentionally try to stay ill equiped for such tasks.

However, I have often returned to far worse butchering than I could do if I were on on very illegal drugs or had a history of chilhood mercury/lead cocktail consumption.

Not long ago I returned to see a guy finishing up with a saws-all, what he started with a hole saw. Two 2 1/2" holes over-lapping with the middle cut out - it had so much room to move that getting it in was not the problem - keeping it in there was! And to top it all off, there was no way to have the box level without showing a gap.... Several thousand dollar gaff! GC, after trying to get my employer to chip in for what his guy did, because I didn't leave his guy with clear instructions with the box I left him. But other guys seem to have a problem with these types of boxes as well - even if they are trying to do just a square 3 1/4 X 2 1/8 cut out.... I come back to a 3 1/2 X 2 1/2+, or my favorite - 3 X 4". And I get - "the plate will cover that right?"

I used to have a steel template that I loaned to a cabinet maker that did not get returned. But I recently came across a decent drawing program, and have been doodling around with it. So far this is what I have:

It is a work in progress, and was wondering if there are any suggestions, other than trying to get it to print to scale on a single page???

Last edited by e57; 06/05/07 10:36 PM.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#164547 - 06/05/07 11:40 PM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: e57]  
EV607797  Offline
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 745
Fredericksburg, VA, USA

When we did kitchen remodels, we left the cables hanging out with about 3 feet of slack. When the cabinets were being placed, all that we asked for was a reasonable hole to permit the cables to pass. We would come in and wire up the old-work boxes (always metal), install the devices and leave the boxes hanging there. The cabinet people would then know exactly what needed to be mounted and the box dimensions (the finished box was right there in front of them). With about two feet of slack in the cable(s), it seemed to be easy enough for the cabinet guys to get the cutout right and in the correct location. They would just screw the boxes to the cabinet through the box ears and install the plates that we left them. This strategy generally worked well.

The over-sized holes stem from the large use of plastic old-work boxes that are assumed by the cabinet guys as being the norm. Using metal boxes, you gain about an extra 1/8" all the way around. It doesn't sound like much, but when it comes to plate coverage, it can make a huge difference.

Now bear in mind, we worked with more upscale kitchen remodeling companies that were willing to pay a little more to get it done right.


"But the guy at Home Depot said it would work."

#164548 - 06/05/07 11:40 PM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: e57]  
techie  Offline
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 246
palo alto, ca usa
Print it on plastic. (overhead projector tranparancy material) two per page.

Last edited by techie; 06/05/07 11:42 PM.

#164549 - 06/05/07 11:43 PM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: e57]  
Niko  Offline
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 356
Campbell, CA
I always cut in my boxes.
Cover the area with blue painter tape, Do my marking then cut it with a Jig saw. So far it has come out perfect.

One time i had the GC's employee cut in a box in a 4x6 lower window ledge. Who i must say was a true craftsman.

Be kind to your neighbor, he knows where you live

#164551 - 06/06/07 01:56 AM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: Niko]  
e57  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
Ed, I do slightly the same thing spare getting the cab guys (More premidonna than what us electricians are made out to be) to do it. That wouldn't fly in the local climate unfortunately. And I am often not on site when the cabs arrive, and weary of letting them cut with the wire in the hole.

I too am a metal box guy myself. Not too fond of the plastic cut-in. Over cut a plastic one and you're done.

And Niko, although it should go without saying that the wood be protected when cutting - you're right, I should put that on there.

I'm all but too capable to cut my own, but wiegh the option against the multi-K$ of the multi-trade back-charge with the slightest slip. Thinking that if they do it, it's their problem...

Personally I like to pre-drill the holes then go for the roto-zip, or just roto-zip the whole thing. Then put a 1/4" straight router bit in it for the ears. Then some #4 wood screws for support. Otherwise I have been leaving them the actual box I am going to use - which has become accepted policy locally - then let them figure it out, thinking they are capable of doing so. As said, I unfortunately been proven wrong a few times.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

#164561 - 06/06/07 09:07 AM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: e57]  
Retired_Helper  Offline
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 165
Mark: nice, neat, simple drawing. How about adding a note or a table to adjust for 2-gang and up? I'm impressed that you covered the screwless wallplates, also! cool

I'm sure a printing or graphics pro could get this set up for you sized 1"=1" if you wanted to give somebody a template, but why bother? Carpenters and cabinet-makers should be able to measure. They certainly don't get the building prints at 1-to-1. grin

#164565 - 06/06/07 09:30 AM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: Retired_Helper]  
Jim M  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 457
Chestertown, MD, USA
I had made up templates for old work boxes on thin sheets of Lucite. I could hold the template up to the surface and trace the inside of it. I also added the horizontal and vertical centerlines on the template.

#164566 - 06/06/07 10:23 AM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: Jim M]  
Alan Belson  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,803
Mayenne N. France
Mark, for larger-than-stock forstner bit sizes of holes, of any shape, I make a female template, basically a hole cut in a 1/2" plywood plate with a jigsaw and filed/sanded to final size. Yes, you can file wood! With your router fitted with a stock collar, it's a cinch to cut out any shape accurately, the collar follows the template. I use a 30mm OEM collar on my Makita and usually 1/2" [12.7mm] diameter straight bits which means a 2" x 3 1.4" hole needs a 17.3mm bigger hole; say nominal 99.8mm x 68.1mm. I use electronic vernier calipers to assess template sizes. The radius left in the corners can he filed out with a sharp rasp. You need to fix the plate to the surface to datum lines with clamps or double sided tape, and you need clearance for the router base of course, [ not always possible, that's when you decline the work!]. However, the method means it's impossible to cut the hole too big. Carbide tip cutters will cut practically any material except nails. I use this method to house newel posts, handrail sections, cut mortises, etc., and easily get accuracy of less than 0.005" When someone of limited skills and intelligence is butchering the job and delaying you getting paid, I reckon it's time to do your own.


Wood work but can't!

#164567 - 06/06/07 10:48 AM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: Alan Belson]  
gibbonsseabee80  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 40
Chesapeake, VA
I always use a ROTO-ZIP. I have never had a problem. Paneling, floor receptacles in wood flooring etch. Dont buy one and go right for the cabinets. You have to practice and get use to using it on wood and sheet-rock. Otherwise it will jump and runnaway, and you will left with a soup sandwich.

Brian Gibbons

#164572 - 06/06/07 12:54 PM Re: Gangable cut-in box routing instructions [Re: gibbonsseabee80]  
EV607797  Offline
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 745
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
That's funny, Brian. I know exactly what you are saying about practice. I bought mine through a TV informercial about five years ago and I am still afraid to use it. You definintely need to get used to it, just like riding a bike or driving a car.


"But the guy at Home Depot said it would work."

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