I'm running a new light switch and have to unfortunately notch out a hard to access joist to get into the wall above. Our house is a small antique cape house and this will not affect the floor's integrity. What kind of saw would be best for a hard to reach 2x8 board like this?

  • 1
    The layout is not clear. Using the "edit" button below your question text, and the "moon and mountains" button over the resulting editing window, please attach a photo of the joist you're asking about. Jul 2, 2021 at 1:39
  • Probably an oscillating saw ("Fein", etc), but not sure since the picture didn't upload. Jul 2, 2021 at 2:33
  • It's impossible to say from what little information we have. Photos are necessary.
    – isherwood
    Jul 2, 2021 at 15:03

3 Answers 3


Before you get wrapped up in "notch", have you considered drilling a hole? A long(ish) bit, either auger or spade, will go a good long ways, which makes it easy to deal with tight spaces. And you can pick up a 10-14 inch extension if you need one.

  • I'm now leaning toward a hole with possibly a small hole saw bit. Thank you for the advice, it should also better preserve the joist.
    – Mike L
    Jul 2, 2021 at 3:06
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    I can't see a hole saw working well, they are best for thin material.
    – Jasen
    Jul 2, 2021 at 5:20
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    @MikeL I would look into a long "electrician's augur" bit. They are available in lengths up to 48" or so, and augur bits have a screw thread at the end that makes them self-feeding after a small push to get them started. They also have a flexible shaft so you can get it in through the hole in the wall, then bend it and push it up into the top plate above. They can be a bit spendy, but your local tool rental place will probably have them for a very reasonable price.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 2, 2021 at 12:45

There's several options,

You could just carve the notch using chisels.

You could drill the notch using a spade bit and changing the drill angle as the hole grows. you may want to practice the technique on some scrap before you use it in anger.

You could screw a temporary guide block to the joist and drill a hole partially in the joist and partially in the block.

You could drill a series of shallow holes to make a notch.

You could use some combination of the above.

  • Thanks so much for the ideas everyone. I'm going to use some type of drill method, possibly a flexible bit
    – Mike L
    Jul 3, 2021 at 15:35

Notching always compromises strength. Drilling is by far the least compromising option.

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