Is there a knack...

Hello All
...To surface mount boxes?
There I am, overstuffed cheapo surface mount box. Need to open a knock-out. Give it the gentlest of taps and half the box snaps off.
Is it just me being clumsy, or are cheap surface mount boxes far too brittle and work out being false economy when you're breaking 1 out of every four?
--
Simon Avery, Dartmoor, UK
uk.d-i-y FAQ: http://www.diyfaq.org.uk /
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Simon Avery wrote:

Happens to me too. :-( Also, who designed those round plastic elec junction boxes? What a load of crap. You can't get more than a couple of wires in without taking out the screw which is a pig to get back in, if it doesn't fall on the floor and get lost.. Do electricians really use them? Chocky connectors in plastic boxes would be miles better...
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I use loads of them but the 4 terminal 5A are no use for the reasons you say, I always use the 20A variants ... can get all the wiring you want in these.
Rick
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Rick Hughes wrote:

I am in fact using thee smaller ones extensively.
There are a few tricks I have learnt. Firstly, at least they don't break when chipping out teh wire passage holes.
Secondly, remove ALL the screws first, and put them to one side.
Thirdly, spend time cutting and stripping wires and planning internal layout, especially if you don't want to screw them down till they are wired. Its always a toss up as to whoich is going to be the biger pain IME...
Then make sure all wires are carefull laid across the slots, and reinsiert screws. If a hint of coss thread - remove and start agin, or you smash the stupud brass inserts. How I get the screws in is to ut the screw in teh driver end, and hold it there with a fingertip. Then just screw it backwards till it slips into the thread start, then forwards.
The secret is knowing its going to be irritating, and just doing it the slow way to start with, which then ends up faster than crawling around looking for the grub screw. Always remove and store spare grub screws from unused terminals as well....

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This is *exactly* how I lay out a junction box. Saves a lot of hassle, though it does seem to take ages. Did two lighting boxes today, circuit, switch, lamp. One had circuit out as well, the other had two lamps. Took 45+ minutes from unpacking the boxes to screwing the lids on.
But I do use 20A boxes generally as even with all this preparation, 5A can be a squeeze. Only if space is very tight do I use 5A - most recently above an unfitted false ceiling where there was just a couple of inches height to play with and the box had to be mounted vertically on one of the battens.
Hwyl!
M.
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Simon Avery wrote:

I cut the "outside" part and drill through the "inside" part, if you see what I mean ;) Still manage to break them sometimes.
I got some from somewhere a while back though were more like nylon, in that there were quite soft - probably substandard and dangerous...I decided against using those ;)
Lee
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They are made for telecoms use. I rather suspect the mains ones are supposed to be at least thermosetting plastic.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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Tried various techniques, still break them, but did 4 this morning using a combination of a drill and gentle taps with the flat iron on a pin hammer with no losses :-)
Tony
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Isn't snapping them out with a pair of pliers the best way, I don't think I've cracked more than I intended for a long time now.
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Chris Green ( snipped-for-privacy@x-1.net)

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I use a screwdriver handle to break off the outer tab and the blade to break out the inner skin covering the hole. Using pliers or cutters is guaranteed to shatter the box.
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On Sat, 6 Dec 2003 17:12:20 +0000, Mike Tomlinson wrote:

Old pair of side cutters to "nibble" the exterior hole. Flat bladed screwdriver to knock out the inside. Yet to find a way of not haveing any spalling on the outside though.
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On Sat, 06 Dec 2003 14:03:13 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@digdilem.org (Simon Avery) wrote:

I use a variety of gentle taps on the knock-out to open it up.
I usually try a pair of sidecutters as a small hammer side-on, also jabbing with a small screwdriver. If I'm really serious I would tend to employ the rounded end of a small pien hammer. I don't use a lot of force on this job, just gentle taps.
Can't remember having seriously broken a pattress box though. The finished "hole" is usually a bit jagged in nature but that's not terribly important on the grand scale of things.
PoP
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Yup. I've never quite worked out why the thinnest of the plastic remains intact while it breaks across a thick bit. Luckily, I pretty well never use plastic surface mounting stuff - I prefer metal clad regardless of where it is to be used.
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*Ever stop to think and forget to start again?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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I usually hacksaw down the sides of the outer skin, where it is thinned, then break the remaining tab off with pliers.
Colin Bignell
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Simon Avery wrote:

Tell me about it.
Hate the bloody things.
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I almost wrote the OP myself last month.
The cheapest screwfix are definitely more brittle than the MK / Crabtrees, presumably the filler to resin ratio is much higher. After cracking a couple I ended up Dremelling from the outside with a mini abrasive disk at the "weak points" and snapping off the tongue with a pliers. After that the internal skin knocks out with a screwdriver tip (from the outside).
Also, in the current screwfix boxes that I have, the boss around the thread insert foul the internals of Wickes own brand double sockets. Typically, I only discovered this after I had a row of them installed and wired below worktop height. Dremel to the rescue again, mini cylindrical grinding stone.
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