I need to attach two sheets of plywood to drywall. One in the closet to mount networking equipment and the other one overhead to mount climbing training board. The closet one does not have to be as sturdy, but I intend to use it as a test for the mounting process.

My walls have narrowly spaced steel studs. I plan to use toggler snaptoggle anchors, carefully locate the studs and install anchors right into them.

The next step puzzles me: how do I reliably transfer anchor locations from the wall to the plywood to drill bolt holes?

I was thinking of employing some sort of coordinate transfer method with a ruler, but I’m not sure it will be precise enough (in my execution).

If I didn’t have to choose anchor location carefully, I’d just drill through the plywood & the wall and would get perfectly matching holes. What to do if anchor are pre-installed?

2 Answers 2


IMO, the most accurate would be to create a template out of a lighter material, maybe builders paper, the thick brown paper that comes in rolls. Create a piece the exact size of the ply, tape two together if necessary.

Tape it up on the wall, mark the edges and then the stud mounting points. Move the paper to the ply and drill your pilot holes. Hold the board up to the wall, match up your marks and then fasten away.

The sequence may not match your fastener type, but I hope you get my point.

I think this is the most surefire way to guard against oddly spaced and non-plumb studs.


Drill holes in your plywood in alignment with the stud locations, temporarily place the plywood, punch each hole with a nail or awl, remove the plywood, and place your anchors accordingly.

However, don't use toggle anchors. Sheet metal screws every 12-16" on each stud will provide more than enough strength for your equipment. Use screws every 4-6" for the other thing (though I'm not sure steel studs should carry human weight to begin with--they're not designed for lateral stability and you might end up with bulged walls when the stud flanges flex outward).

  • What would be the best way to verify stability concerns? I think I have a real steel beam (at least one) in my place but that would require change of location & mounting plan.
    – mikea
    Nov 27, 2018 at 15:59
  • I guess I'd just try the sheet metal screw approach and keep a close eye on things. If you see outward flexing, reconsider.
    – isherwood
    Nov 27, 2018 at 16:06

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