This article is from my roughing-in series for electricians.
Today, you will learn how to drill holes for electrical wires. The process may seem straight-forward, but like anything in the electrical field, it’s the LITTLE TRICKS that make all the difference.
The golden rule is YOU ONLY WANT TO DRILL HOLES ONCE.
I’ll teach you that in this article! – Let’s get into the video!
What We Cover in this Article:
- Before Drilling Holes – What to Know
- How to Drill Holes for Electrical Wires
Before Drilling Holes – What to Know
I’ll first quickly cover some gotchas when drilling wire holes to speed you up, and allow you to work FAST as an electrician.
Prevent Missing Holes When Drilling
The first rule about drilling holes for wires is that you only want to drill holes once. When you miss a stud, it slows you down tremendously, especially in the middle of pulling wire.
You may be on a ladder, realize you missed a hole, and now you have to get down from the ladder, grab a drill, drill the hole, then get back to work.
We prevent this by Planning Routes BEFORE Drilling Holes for Wires.
FACT: You’re ALWAYS going to forget one or two holes. But if you take 5 minutes to figure out the wire route, it helps tremendously in preventing missing holes when drilling!
How Many Wire Holes to Drill
You must count HOW MANY WIRES you’re pulling.. which helps you know How Many Holes to Drill for Wires.
And.. a VERY IMPORTANT GOTCHA… EXTRA-LOW-VOLTAGE WIRES!
Remember, power (120V) must be 1-foot away from data, cable, telephone, fiber optic, and any other extra-low-voltage wire types.
There’s actually a lot to know about drilling holes, because if you don’t think ahead, it will slow you down, it can fail inspection, and things just look sloppy!
Using a Company Drill As Much as Possible
Here’s another one of my golden rules:
DO NOT USE YOUR PERSONAL DRILL FOR LOTS OF HOLES.
Use a company drill as much as possible.
Otherwise, you’ll burn your drill out fast!!
So what do you do then?
Companies often have company drills which you have to share. When it’s your turn with the company drill, make sure to take advantage of it! If you’re waiting on a company drill, then plan your routes for wires and figure how many wire holes to drill while you’re waiting!
When you miss a hole, then use your personal drill. This allows you to work faster, AND protects your tools (especially your drill, as it’s your most expensive tool!)
How to Drill Holes for Electrical Wires
The most popular drill bit we use is called an Auger Bit.
What makes an auger bit so powerful is that it removes wood as you’re drilling. This allows you to drill through many wood studs, without having to remove the drill bit to clean out the hole.
An auger bit can even go through nails, but you want to avoid that, because it dulls it. However, in some situations, you gotta do what you gotta do 😁
Make sure to view different drill bit types for electricians.
Pro-Tip: An auger bit can be sharpened with a file. However, make sure you file it the right way, otherwise you can damage the auger bit!
Make Sure You’re Drilling Wire Holes Level
A huge shoutout to Bob on this pro-tip for the best way to drill wire holes!
Make sure the holes you drill for wires are the same height.
If holes are drastically different heights, it causes unnecessary friction, and becomes impossible at long-length wire pulls!
It can often force you to pull wire from two places (you have to keep moving back and forth to two locations.. you pull slack, then you go to the other location to pull the wire tight for your wire length).
You don’t need to get a tape measure out for wire hole heights, because remember, it’s all about speed. Keep your wire holes at a similar height for a fast wire pull, and professional look!
What Height to Drill Holes for Wires
This is different from keeping wire hole heights the same.
Before drilling holes, you must think about WHAT HEIGHT to actually drill the wire holes at.
Sometimes an object can be in the way, or make things harder to enter the wires into the box. (This is especially true for bending pipe.. you HAVE to take a quick peek of the whole wire route, and pick the best spot to work).
EXAMPLE: Let’s look at plugs and pulling wire.
- If you drill too low, it will be hard on your back, and the wire may be too close to the plug box, making it hard to enter the wire into the box, or stapling the wire.
- If you drill too high, you’ll have to use more staples to get the wire into, which slows you down!
Wrapping Up – Drilling Holes for Wires as Electricians
When we drill our holes as electricians, these are the quick tips:
- Plan BEFORE Drilling Holes (Where is the wire coming from, where is it going, and are there any obstacles in the way, like a structural beam).
- Know How Many Wire Holes You’ll Need (You do not want to cram the holes super tight with wire, as they get hot and can cause a house fire [it can also make you fail inspection!]. Also, don’t forget to keep power and extra-low-voltage wires at least 1-foot apart!)
- Drill Your Holes Level (This makes wire pulling easy, and looks professional).
- Think About Wire Hole Height (If too low, it can be hard on your body to pull, and be too close to electrical devices like plugs.)