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Cutting Plasterboard For Wired Keypads

Q: Installing hardwired alarm panels there’s often need for square holes in existing plasterboard to accommodate wired keypads and control panels – everyone seems to have their own technique – some are messier than others – what’s SEN’s recommendation?

A: Many alarm and access keypads are designed to be installed over a double gang electrical box. We’ve seen them installed over a single, as well as installed over holes punched in walls by fair means or foul. If you do elect to cut into existing plasterboard, the first thing you need to do is establish stud location with a stud scanner and then decide where the hole will be – to some extent this will be governed by cable access.

Everyone seems to have their own technique when it comes to cutting plasterboard. The old way was to mark the fixing points and the outline of the template, score the wall with a Stanley knife to cut the surface paint and underlying paper, then use something like a padsaw to work around the outline. You need a vacuum to hand – this job is messy. A gentle touch with the saw gives best results and avoids ragged edges.

The modern alternative is to use something like a Fein Multimaster tool or a Quadsaw – we tend to favour the latter as it works on any drill, and you don’t need to buy into the Fein ecosystem to get this small piece of functionality. The Quadsaw has 4 oscillating blades that can be set to cut a hole or a rectangle in plasterboard using only a centre point.

The Australian version of Quadsaw cuts to Australian C Clip dimensions, fits to any universal ½-inch drill chuck and is used at an rpm of 1750-2500 without load. It’s ideal when you need to install things like data port gang boxes, double gang boxes for power, light switches – security system keypads, etc.

Using a Quadsaw is much faster than doing the job manually and the clean cut reduces creation of dust – there is a connector for a dust extractor with Quadsaw, which saves a bit more time.


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