I'm getting ready to frame out a wall in my basement that has an electrical subpanel. I would like to move the panel out an inch or so, so I can frame around it and it will be flush with the finished wall. There is plenty of room and extra cable above so that I shouldn't need to rewire anything. My original plan was to remove cover, frame around it, turn off power, unscrew panel and slide it forward, reattach to studs, replace cover, turn power back on. But, the builders attached it with a ramset directly to the concrete! So, does anyone have any ideas on how to get that thing removed without having to disconnect all of the wiring to get a prybar in there? There might be enough clearance to get a sawsall blade behind the box and cut the nails from there, but I wouldn't bet on it. Any other ideas would be much appreciated.

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    Seems like a LOT of work for the sake of an essentially meaningless move? Leave the panel recessed an inch into the (new) wall face and save the bother...maybe picture-frame it with some cutesy mitered lumber to make a prettier hole, if that matters to you. – Ecnerwal Apr 2 '19 at 0:46
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    @Ecnerwal he can't leave the panel recessed, actually, unless leaves the wall unframed for the entire 110.26(A) bounding box, otherwise the wall itself infringes on the panel's clear working space. – ThreePhaseEel Apr 2 '19 at 1:12
  • It wouldn't have been a lot of work if there were screws. But, things being what they are I'm going to put in a call to my inspector and see if he'll pass it with it being inset an inch. Can't see any real reason that'd make a difference since the code is intended to make sure an electrician has ready access and that inch isn't going to cause any extra access issues being in a wall doesn't cause already. – Cropduster Apr 2 '19 at 2:36
  • Not sure which answer to mark as "correct", since I actually just went with Ecnerwal's comment. I went so far as to get some good metal bits to dry to drill out those nails, but when I was getting ready to do it, I thought "just a little bit of walk and I'm slicing wires" so I just framed around like a window to be covered with a hinged panel. Inspector said that's OK, so that seemed path of least resistance. – Cropduster May 4 '19 at 23:20

Powder-actuated gun nails are extremely hard. You don't want to have to cut them with a saw, and you probably won't have room anyway.

Get yourself an angle grinder with an abrasive wheel. Bracing your hands well against the box, carefully grind away just the heads of the nails. You should then be able to pull the box off the nail shafts.

Obviously, take all necessary precautions when working around electrical current, and use eye and ear protection.

Caveat: Be sure that you have enough length available on your primary conductors to make the move you have planned. You may also be required to install conduit behind the box, where the wires are exposed.

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    A dremel with a cutoff wheel might be easier. Make sure to clean out all the metal filings prior to reenergising. – Ed Beal Apr 1 '19 at 21:06
  • You'd go through a good many cutoff wheels to get through those fat heads unless there's a gap underneath to get at the shaft. Still, not a bad idea, especially where space is tight. – isherwood Apr 1 '19 at 22:23
  • If the wheel prevents access, you could also use a grinding cone/plug. – canadianer Apr 2 '19 at 0:23
  • Since I already have a Dremel handy, I may give that a go if my inspector isn't keen on having it inset by an inch. If inspector's OK with it, I may just leave it where it is. – Cropduster Apr 2 '19 at 2:38

You could drill around it with a 3/8 hole saw with the pilot bit removed, even a 1/4" might work. Don't push too hard on the washer so it doesn't come free. If it does come free drill a hole in it off to the side and insert a nail to stop it from turning. Dremil is expensive if you don't already have one and could take a while. A grinder is a little cumbersome working in a panel. All will work just adding some options.

  • I like this idea, but I wasn't aware that hole saws were made so small. The only ones I've seen are diamond-dust, intended for tile. – isherwood Apr 1 '19 at 22:22
  • Most of the quality holesaw bit sets only go down to 3/4 because of the arbour. I've got some unknown brand junky ones that go smaller. But even a 3/4 bit would do the trick, it'll just be harder to start without a pilot bit. – Joe Fala Apr 1 '19 at 22:36
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    It would be stupendously hard to start. Been there tried that. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 1 '19 at 22:45
  • Not if it fit fairly snugly over the nail head. A 1/2" bit might be just the ticket. – isherwood Apr 1 '19 at 22:52

There seems to be some different ideas between pros about how to do this, according to the following link from 2013.


If you ignore the sub-conversation about using these nails in the first place:

At least one person suggests grinding them down, but there's also someone that says it won't work.

One poster suggests using a small prybar to pop the heads off or "simply" pull the nails out.

Another poster suggests drilling out the heads, which was my first thought, but another person says that won't work. Evidently the nails are case hardened to be able to penetrate the concrete.

I'd think a grinder would be your best bet, but if it doesn't work, try the drill option, with some really sharp bits. Leave the prybar for last, as that can shoot nail or concrete at high velocity any/everywhere.

As always, be safe and use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Oh, and good luck, too! It sounds like you're going to need it.

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