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Old 01-01-2010, 03:05 PM   #1
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Question Cutting plaster with metal lath

I need to install a new service panel in a wall of an old house. Apparently the wall is plaster over wire lathe. Does anyone know of a good way to cut a hole for the panel?

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Old 01-01-2010, 03:23 PM   #2
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What I have done is mark the area and use a skinny screwdriver and score all around it. Once the lathe is exposed you have to cut it with tin snips or (I have use) a stakon tool tip.

It's been years since I have done it but I bet the fein tool would work wonderfully.


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Old 01-01-2010, 03:25 PM   #3
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The best way I've found to cut plaster over wire lath is with one of those thin diamond cutoff wheels in a 4-1/2" right angle grinder. They're 10-15 bucks at a home improvement store, and last forever.

If the home is occupied, you'll need to take dust control measures. Zip Walls or a helper with a HEPA vac on the grinder's rooster tail will work.
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Old 01-01-2010, 03:28 PM   #4
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[quote=Dennis Alwon;163594]What I have done is mark the area and use a skinny screwdriver and score all around it. Once the lathe is exposed you have to cut it with tin snips or (I have use) a stakon tool tip.[quote]

That's exactly what I do for switches and receptacles. It would be misery for a service panel, though. I'd get bored about 1/4th of the way through and start messing up.
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Old 01-01-2010, 05:41 PM   #5
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You could also use the end of a beefy flathead screw driver and pliers and delicately tap out the old plaster. Then drill several small holes (1/8" in diameter) in the metal lathe and then use your dikes to cut it out. You might want to use some 2" masking tape as well. Hopefully you won't come across some funky framing method they used back then and will spared from playing carpenter.
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Old 01-01-2010, 05:46 PM   #6
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IMO every electrician should carry an angle grinder as Marc noted a diamond blade for this task and the thin metal cutting blades for everything else, cuts all thread in a snap and then with a flick of the wrist you de-burr it copper bus, aluminum and makes cutting kindorf a breeze.
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Old 01-01-2010, 06:38 PM   #7
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I use a small 3" 9V. Makita saw with diamond blade.

The RPM is very slow and you can hold a shop vac below the saw to catch the dust
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDShunk View Post
That's exactly what I do for switches and receptacles. It would be misery for a service panel, though. I'd get bored about 1/4th of the way through and start messing up.
That's true I have never had to do it for an entire panel. But if you don't have the money for the tool it will get you by.
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Old 01-01-2010, 09:40 PM   #9
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I would go with the diamond blade too.Angle grinders are a must for any van.
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Old 01-01-2010, 10:30 PM   #10
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I have the angle grinder with diamond blade, but I also have a concrete blade in a cheapo 12amp ryobi circular saw. Cuts real fast in the little stuff and does a fair job in concrete.
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Old 01-01-2010, 10:32 PM   #11
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Whats kindorf? just another name for strut?
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Old 01-01-2010, 10:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Whats kindorf? just another name for strut?
yes...
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:19 PM   #13
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Smile Cutting plaster with metal lathe

Thanks for the responses guys. Off to HD I go to get a diamond cutoff wheel.
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:32 PM   #14
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I've used the angle grinder, and been less than thrilled with the results. You never saw such dust in the air! On one job, a neighbor almost called the fire department as a result.

Another grinder issue is that the wheel you use for metal isn't much good for masonry, and vise-versa.

No, the cat's meow for this job is the Multi-master. Precise, controlled cuts, a great 'feel' for depth, large grained dust that falls to the floor, rather than fill your lungs.

Cut the plaster alone, all around. If you use the round carbide blade, you'll also cut any chicken wire that might be there. Knock out the plaster, THEN get the grinder for the lath.

Though the Multi-master works by moving the blade back and forth, don't worry about vibration, or cracking the plaster. This tool moves so fast you don't hardly feel the vibrations; it's certainly NOT goung to grab the wall and shake it like a saber saw or saws-it-all might.
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nolabama View Post
Whats kindorf? just another name for strut?
Kindorf is the gold covered strut that was made in Pittsburgh,Pa.Not too compatable with unistrut (green) Was made by Steel City.

Last edited by bobelectric; 01-02-2010 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:45 PM   #16
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First thing is to set the customers expectations that the wall might just fall apart. You can do the best job possible on lathe and it still can turn into a pile of crappola. Besides that my experience with lathe has been to run, very very fast..
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:47 PM   #17
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I've had considerable success with a Rotozip and tile cutting bit.
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Old 04-07-2013, 03:55 PM   #18
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I have a house rewire I am about to start on tuesday. plaster and metal lath everywhere. outside walls are solid brick/concrete. sub panel to cut in. Should be fun Was thinking multi tool with a worn blade to the lath, then a diamond blade for the lath itself.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:30 PM   #19
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The angle grinder is good, but creates tons of dust.

I use this inside of homes with my multi-tool. It cuts through the plaster/wire extremely smoothly including the corners (put the blade on so that you have the straight edge), then I switch to a wood blade to cut through the wood.

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Old 04-07-2013, 05:30 PM   #20
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Angle grinder and claw hammer

And a dust mask.


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