pocket hole in lath and plaster

locust_houseAugust 27, 2009

I really messed up!

I decided to replace the old recessed TP holder in my bathroom with a new one. After removing the old one I realized that the hole in the lath and plaster wall would be too small for the new holder.

Using the provided paper template and a borrowed jigsaw, I drilled holes in the three new corners and then proceeded to use about 10 saw blades to cut through plastic tiles, top-coat and then the lath and plaster (each blade lasted about 1.5" inches before getting ground down by the ancient plaster).

Well, at the end of all this, I have a larger opening but I didn't stick to the template perfectly and the opening is still about 1/8 inch too narrow.

I tried using the jigsaw to cut a thin strip off one side, but it just mangles the plastic tiles and throws chunks of plaster. I also just can't control the saw very well on such a thin cut. I'm afraid I'm going to lose a finger!

How am I going to get this hole just a little bit wider?

I don't know what to do. Any ideas? TYIA.

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locust_house

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 9:32PM
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steve_in

Do you have a Rotozip with the Zipmate attachment? I have used that with a metal cut-off wheel to cut through plaster. I use the metal wheel since it is thinner than the masonry wheel. It seems to work pretty good. I then use a jig saw or a wood zip bit to cut through the wood lathes.

Someone may have a better idea than this, but this has worked for me really well putting outlet boxes in plaster walls. I don't like to use the plaster bits that they sell for the Rotozip. They seem to overheat and they don't cut through wood very good at all.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 9:42PM
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locust_house

I don't have a rotozip but maybe I could borrow one. Does it work sort of like a dremel tool?

I was trying to do cheap fixes to the bathroom (re-painting the painted-over plastic tiles, new towel racks) but as usual that was a silly notion!

Thanks for your response. I like the idea of working my way through the layers. :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 10:17PM
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brickeyee

"I don't have a rotozip but maybe I could borrow one. Does it work sort of like a dremel tool?"

It is a dremel tool on steroids, with a depth adjustment.

It will go through the plaster easily, then you can cut the wood lathe.

The zip tool can also cut wood, but you have to move at the correct cutting speed to avoid burning up the bits.

Be careful cutting the lath to not break the 'keys' (where the plaster sticks through the gaps in the lathe) holding the plaster to the lath.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 9:15AM
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kimkitchy

How about using an old fashioned rasp, since the amount of material you have to remove now is so small? I've seen my DH do that sometimes (although we didn't have to deal with the plastic tile). It would be slow, but could be very incremental. You sure wouldn't want to remove too much and have the hole be too big!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 10:49AM
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locust_house

Thanks for all the tips. I'll look into the rotozip.

BTW, the plaster is mixed with sand I think. It's a lot like cement! At one point I found it easier to knock out a stubborn chunk with a hammer than to saw it. I have a newfound appreciation for the durability of these old walls!

Kim, I actually tried a rasp but since the lath has been cut it's unstable and moved, and the plastic tiles responded by chipping unevenly. But it did seem like something worth trying.

This is the most frustrating 1/8" I've ever encountered!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 11:09AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

4" grinder is terrific for this kind of cut; terrifically dusty, too.
Casey

    Bookmark   August 28, 2009 at 8:05PM
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brickeyee

"4" grinder is terrific for this kind of cut..."

Just not for the inexperienced when it grabs and kicks back.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 11:02AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Adjective "terrific" cuts both ways!
Casey

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 11:51AM
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locust_house

I was too scared of the grinder, so went with the Rotozip which cut through the plastic tiles OK, but got really gummed up with the adhesive under the tiles and actually sparked in the plaster (flecks of sand?). Ended up chipping away the plaster with the claw of a hammer and then going back to the jigsaw for the lath (the rotozip seemed to be burning it).

Anyway, the deed was done. Thanks everyone for your advice!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 8:53PM
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