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Drilling Into Studs for Electrical Wiring | Tool Lab | Ask This Old House

In this video, This Old House master electrician Heath Eastman explains how pros drill through studs for running wires through wood-framed walls.

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Master electrician, Heath Eastman shows us the trade tricks for drilling holes through studs. Heath shows us the frequently used tools, including his drills, attachments, and drill bits that make drilling accurate and code-compliant holes a breeze.

Drilling a Hole Isn’t Always as Easy as It Seems
It might sound very easy to drill holes through wood, but it can be a challenge when that wood is vertical and tightly spaced. And, with codes dictating where those holes can be, there’s more to it than simply drilling.

Drill Bits and Attachments
The most common drill bits used for drilling through studs are auger bits and spade bits. Auger bits look like large twist bits but typically have self-feeding tips and large, heavy-duty flutes that can handle a nail or two. Spade bits have wide, flat tips that remove a lot of material quickly, but are a bit less durable.

Drill Choices
While there are a few different drills that can potentially handle the job, most electricians can get by with two: a standard drill and a right-angle drill. Standard drills are great when they fit, but right-angle drills provide a lot of power and leverage, and their heads fit in tighter spaces than most standard drills.

Where to Drill
Note that the holes through which electricians run wires have a specific location requirement. They cannot be within 1 ¼-inch from either edge of the stud. This leaves about 1 inch of space in the dead center of a 2×4. To avoid accidentally drilling too close to the edge, use a ¾-inch spade bit. With 2x6s, it’s less of a concern as there is plenty of clearance.

Corners are Tricky
Drilling into corner stud assemblies can be difficult depending on the position of the other studs on either side of the corner. The best method for these applications is to use a bit extension and drill from the outside of another stud, or use a right-angle attachment to drill through the assembly.

Pulling the Wire is the Easy Part
If you’ve drilled accurately and evenly, pulling the wire is the easy part. They should pull right through the studs with a little guidance. For the corners, it may be necessary to push the wire against the wall and create a slight curve in the end. Then, simply pull the wire back slightly to align the tip with the hole and finish snaking it through.

Use Nail Plates Where Spacing is a Challenge
It’s not always possible to drill perfectly in the center of a stud, and the wires may be too close to the edge. Nail plates are ideal for these situations, as they sit on the edge of the stud underneath the sheetrock and prevent someone from driving a nail or screw through the stud and into the wire.

Where to find it?
Heath explains what tools he uses and how he uses them when replacing an electrical receptacle. He shows the right way to use wire strippers to strip back the insulation jacket on wires. Then he uses needle-nose pliers to “hook” the end of the wire in order to wrap it around the terminal screw. Heath then uses a special torquing screwdriver to tighten the screw to the correct tension.

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Tool Lab:
Tool Lab is a series that features unbiased reviews and objective tests of new and noteworthy tools. In addition to reviews and testing, we’ll also be producing user guides, buying guides, and tips and tricks for getting the most out of tools. Tool Lab is geared towards those with pro-level experience or interest—those who are new to the trades, have been working in the trades, as well as advanced DIYers who want to know what pros know and want to perform at their level. Be sure to catch new reviews and content each week on or on YouTube.

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Drilling Into Studs for Electrical Wiring | Tool Lab | Ask This Old House


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