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I have a home theatre and I need to run some cables from the floor through to the roof.

My original plan was to drill from the roof down through the beams and then cut a small hole at the bottom through which to feed cables through.

However, I can't find a way of drilling from inside the roof down through the cross beams in the wall frame.

So now I want to cut a panel out in the plaster of the front wall. The panel will be hinged so I can open and close it.

What this means is that I will be able to get a drill in there then and drill through the beams and thus get cables to run through the wall.

I was wondering how to approach this so that the edges weren't ragged but nice and straight into which i can then fit a (door) as such to cover the hole.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Most access panels have a lip that covers a good half inch around the perimeter of the opening, so you don't have to make the hole perfect. Pick up your desired panel from the store so you have a reference. It should include a door and a separate part for mounting on the wall:

access panel

Start by cutting your hole slightly smaller with a drywall keyhole saw.

drywall keyhole saw

Check for any obstructions with this hole and adjust the position accordingly to make your final hole. Use the panel on the wall as a template to mark out the position of the final hole, and then cut that out with either the same saw, a sharp utility knife, and/or a rasp:

drywall rasp

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I have a similar panel in one of my rentals and they do a great job hiding any rough edges. The only real trick to them is mounting, as the mounting screws are usually inside the door, intended to be screwed into a nearby stud. If your panel isn't right next to a stud or brace, then cut a small piece of wood to go inside the plaster, and attach it to the edge of the hole using drywall screws through the plaster and into the wood, then install the access panel and mount to your new brace. –  The Evil Greebo Sep 14 '11 at 12:42
    
Thanks for this. I never thought of buying a panel from Bunnings and fitting that into the hole. That makes the job a (lot) easier. –  griegs Sep 14 '11 at 22:57
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Grab a 4' level, a sharp razor knife, and a pencil. Using the level and a pencil mark out the hole you want to cut, then place the level along one of the lines and using it as a guide make a couple light passes with the knife (don't press too hard). The key here is to be very careful, and take your time. Once you have shallow scores in the wall the knife will follow the same path through the wall on each pass, so you want to make sure these first cuts are straight and in the proper location.

Continue in this fashion until you have all the lines scribed with the knife, then start making deeper cuts until you have cut all the way through the wall (you should not need the level at this point, just be careful to follow the scribe lines when cutting.

If it's drywall, you could use a keyhole saw to make the cuts after scribing the lines I find the keyhole saw makes a more jagged cut, which requires extra finishing with a rasp or sand paper. I prefer to take a bit more time and use a razor. If you do use a keyhole saw, you'll want to make sure you know what is in the wall (electrical, plumbing, etc). The keyhole saw could easily damage an electrical wire, and give you a nasty shock. If this is a plaster and lath wall, the keyhole saw could make a much bigger mess since cutting through the lath can be problematic.

If the wall is covered in drywall, you're done. Hole complete!

If the wall is plaster and lath, you'll have to cut the lath out without damaging the remaining plaster. I find a Cut Out Tool like this

enter image description here

Works very nicely for cutting lath. Unlike a traditional saw that cuts with a back and forth motion, these cut using a spinning bit so it's less likely you'll vibrate the remaining plaster off the wall. You'll want to be careful with this, as you could easily wander and damage the surrounding plaster ruining your nice straight line. You could use the cut out tool right from the start, but you'll need a special bit when cutting plaster.

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+1, using the knife is a great idea and the way I think I will go. I marked the other answer as the correct one because I like the idea of buying a panel and fitting it into the hole. But I really appreciate your answer. –  griegs Sep 14 '11 at 22:57
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