I've done this several times and this is something that just keeps eluding
What is the trick to measuring accurate drywall cutout holes for outlet
boxes? The big issue that I seem to have is that the measurments need to be
accurate by 1/8" all around for the job to look professional and for the
outlet plate to sit firmly. But when I go to do it, no matter how many
times I measure, I'm always off by 1/8" which puts one side 1/4" off and
another snug against the box. I'm a firm believer in measure once cut twice
(or is that measure twice cut once...)
Are there better tools for measuring it? I'm using my tape measure which is
accurate but unwieldy and with that metal lip on the forward edge it can be
off by 1/4" if you get the tape bowed.
Measuring will get you there if you are absolutely consistent about it
but there are other ways to do it too. For example there are tools and
fixtures to allow you to do it more easily. This is one example of
several tools I've seen: http://www.handymark.net/instructions.html And
if you prefer power tools, one of the Roto-Zip tools will allow you to
make the cutout while following the edge of the box.
I have even done it with carbon paper (if you remember back that far)
and someone I worked with once told me that he had done the job by
dabbing his wife's lipstick around the box to mark the board.
On Sun, 18 Mar 2007 09:21:19 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"
I'm a real man, but I keep my lipstick in my purse !
My gay boyfriend gave me my snakeskin purse for valentines day, but I
bought my own lipstick. The color is "ruby frost", and he loves that
color kissed onto his weenie.
Measure with the tape measure you have. It would be best if it is
a wide, heavy blade like a Stanley. Always try to hang some one
piece of drywall that has no outs. Put the metal end of the tape
measure against the installed sheet and measure the left and right
side of the box, get fairly accurate numbers (1/8" or less). Do
the same for the top and bottom. Layout on the new sheet. Cut
INSIDE your marks (too tight), but angle the saw way to the
outside of the cut. The back side of the rock will be way too
big, the finish side will be almost too tight. You may need to
ease the cut to fit, but it will be easy to do in the thin section
left on the finish side.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
Like Dan said, the biggest trick is to angle the saw away from the
center and cut to the inside of the line. Cut from the finished side.
We had a team of sheet rockers on our job that called out measurements
like......a heavy 9/16.
There are tons of tricks. Best one - buy a Rotozip (or approved
equal). Then all you have to do is poke a hole in the middle of the
outlet box and run the Rotozip around the perimeter. Messy and noisy,
but very effective. Sell it on eBay when you no longer need it.
These are also very useful:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
One tip I have is that when you are measuring for an outlet box near a
corner (or into the next sheet) , you will butt your tape into the
corner. But you usually but your tape harder than the sheet will
actually fit because of out of plumb/out of squareness , humps or bows
or whatever. So pull the tape back slightly to allow for a little
gappage in the corner. No need to measure in multiple places.
A Rotozip is a good idea. But you will screw up a number of outlets
before you get it figured out. You have to run it on the outside of
the box, and keeping the bit riding on the outlet can take a little
getting used to. If it is a small job, you won't have enough time to
really get the hang of it, so you will wind up botching it up just as
bad as if you cut them by hand.
The Rotozip's aren't difficult to learn. If you rush anything, you'll
screw it up.
With the Rotozip, poke a hole where you marked the approximate center
of the box, move the tool laterally until you hit the inside edge of
the box, lift the Rotozip up and over the edge of the box slowly, push
back in until the shoe is flush with the drywall, reverse pressure so
you're pushing towards the inside of the box and move the tool around
the perimeter. Slow and steady and it shouldn't be a problem for even
Wear ear plugs and a dust mask.
This method gives you the most accurate cutouts. I had a window screen
I wasn't using to which I attached a piece of clear plastic sheeting.
Next, I found a reference point on the screen relative to the drywall.
This can be a corner, the long side or short side of the screen. Lay
the screen on the wall and use a marker to draw the outlet on the
plastic. Take the screen to the drywall, line up to the reference
point, and using a pushpin or nail, push holes in the drywall to
outline the corners of the outlet box. Cut the drywall with your
The principle used here is transference. However unlike using lipstick
or carbon paper, you do not have to lift the drywall to find the
outlet box. (Think of cutting an outlet box for a ceiling fixture.)
The pushpin outline of the outlet box on the drywall is exact. If you
want an exact cutout, cut outside the outline of the outlet box. This
eliminates the problem in using a Robozip that cuts the inside of the
outlet box but leaves the thickness of the outlet box to deal with.
The window screen I have is made of metal and is semi-rigid. However
any semi-rigid frame will do. I have even considered making a frame
with pvc tubing and 90 degree corners. The tubing can be of different
lengths and if the corners are not glued, they can be interchanged
with different lengths as needed. Obviously the plastic sheet can be
used separately mutiple times or mutiple outlet boxes for the same
drywall panel can be marked at the same time.
Amen. I own the DeWalt version of the RotoZip. I use a jab saw
and the tool stays in the box. On 5/8 rock I much prefer cutting
With the 1/4" carbide burr the tool is great in ceramic tile,
wonder board, Durock, etc.
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
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