Old work box for a shallow wall

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Old 01-10-17, 09:26 PM
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Old work box for a shallow wall

I have a interior wall in my upstairs (1920s house, plaster walls) that is shallow. I've been working on rewiring with mostly 20cu plastic blue old work boxes, but this wall is too shallow even for a 14cu box. I did find one of these at the hardware store, which will fit for depth: 3 x 2-1/4-Inch Old Work Switch Box: Model# 487 | True Value but for a single run of 12/2 romex and a receptacle I'll be over on box fill.

Any recommendations as to what I should use, or do I just 'cheat' a little on the box fill requirement?
 
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Old 01-10-17, 09:50 PM
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That angled metal box is going to be tough to work in.
What about a shallow plastic box ?
1-Gang 14 cu. in. Old Work Box-B114RB - The Home Depot
 
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Old 01-10-17, 09:59 PM
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Have you considered a 1900 box and plaster ring?
 
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Old 01-11-17, 04:59 AM
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I've used 1900 boxes before and they serve the purpose but it requires a larger hole usually to anchor the box strap to a stud which is fine if you will be working with bare walls and just the studs. This would be the best way to go.

But if you are not taking off the wall material then maybe--> I have also used these before. Shallow old work boxes. These work nicely however you have to be mindful of the thickness of the wall material as it is difficult to slide the box in the hole and push flush against the wall. The box goes in on an angle. The only hole you have to make is the exact size of the box. I would suggest buying at least one and trying it out on a scrap piece of wall board. It takes a little effort to get it in the hole but holds nicely once you tighten the screws. But, these are very shallow and can not fit a GFCI receptacle in it. The receptacle will not go back far enough in the box to be flush with the wall. It is hard to see but there is a compartment on the side of the open part of the box which give you a bit more space.
 
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Old 01-11-17, 07:24 AM
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PJmax - Those 14 cu boxes are still too deep. Stand about 1/4 proud on the face of the wall - even with the keys busted off the plaster wall behind it.

pcboss - I have considered that - at least a 1900 box, and just throwing two receptacles in it. Tell me more about the plaster ring when doing old work - how do you finish over it? Just slap drywall mud around the hole?

AJFES - I tried those boxes, but the plaster & lath walls are just too thick. I had considered removing a little additional plaster around my cutout so the 'ears' can lay on the wood lath, but then I'd need an extension to bring the box flush again with the wall surface. Might be a plan B or C...

Thanks for the replies!
 
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Old 01-11-17, 08:08 AM
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You would need to patch over the plaster ring. Drywall mud would work.
 
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Old 01-12-17, 06:12 AM
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AJFES - I tried those boxes, but the plaster & lath walls are just too thick. I had considered removing a little additional plaster around my cutout so the 'ears' can lay on the wood lath, but then I'd need an extension to bring the box flush again with the wall surface. Might be a plan B or C...
Yes, the wall thickness is an issue with those boxes. I agree. Working with lath and plaster walls is a pain. As it is quite difficult to cut a perfect hole for the box even when using an oscillator. The plaster crumbles and lath splits and sometimes the even the tabs on the plastic box don't open wide enough to grip the wall. Especially if you are faced with a wall that is not only plaster/lath but also has a layer of sheet rock on top of that.

The 1900 box would then in my opinion be your next best bet. It will require a larger hole so you can mount it against a stud but then you can patch the wall. The 4x4 box even at 1-1/2 inch will give you enough space for a receptacle and two romexes, one in and one out.

I prefer to anchor the boxes to studs with the straps that are part of the boxes because there is far less chance of it becoming loose in the wall over time of people pulling hard on the cord to pull the plug from the receptacle.
 
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Old 01-12-17, 11:38 AM
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I've had really good luck with the oscillating tool - using a diamond grout bit to cut through the plaster, and then switching to the wood saw bit for the lathe.

I agree the 4x4 might be the best route for me - plus the additional space should be nice for wiring. I only have a couple spots for receptacles and a switch - I might just use a 2 device cover and put 2 receptacles in it or a switch and receptacle, and skip the mudding.

One more question - I think the bathroom wall is a narrow wall too. Will a 1.5" deep 1900 box and a 5/8 mud ring be deep enough for a GFCI?
 
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Old 01-12-17, 12:55 PM
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I just did a bunch of work in a house with very thin walls 3/8 sheetrock on 2x2 construction for all the interior walls and 3/8 sheetrock on 2x3 for exterior walls. The only boxes that would work were 1.5" or 2.25" deep steel boxes with Madison clips.

Given that it's very difficult to splice in boxes this small, plan on putting larger junction boxes in an accessible basement, crawlspace or attic to make the majority of your spices and only run single cables to the shallow boxes. You may need to use GFCI breakers for circuits where GFCI receptacles will not fit.
 
 

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