Fishing Speaker Wire


Old 06-08-06, 11:25 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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Fishing Speaker Wire

I need some help with setting up some surround sound.

I have read a lot about fishing wire behind the dry wall, but I still am unclear about a few things.

I want to get surround sound in my main floor living room, but I want the wires hidden in the drywall. I have an unfinished basement, so I intend on fishing the cables down thorugh the wall and into the basement.

Once I make a hole in the wall and fish the cable down to the floor, I run into a problem. There is the sub floor and a 2x4 that I need to get through.

I know I will most likely have to drill a hole to allow the wire to drop into the basement, but how do I know where the wire is going to meet the floor? THe last thing I need is to guess and end up with way too many holes in the 2x4 and subfloor.

Are there any tricks?

The rest of the process seems pretty basic, but I can't figure out the best way to get past this jam.
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Old 06-08-06, 03:27 PM
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Depending upon what type of flooring you have makes a difference in what options are available to you.

The first thing I do is look to see if there is anything that passes through the floor you can use as a reference point. It needs to be somehting that you can measure from both main floor and basement. Things like pipes, duct work (be sure to account for the flange on the main floor)

Another simple method if you have carpeting is to drive a nail through the floor and use this as a reference point. Don;t drive the nail all the way in so you can remove it without damaging your carpet when you are done.

If you have a baseboard, you can emove some of it and drill at an angle (from above) and use this as a referrence point.

I personnally use "the force" and let the midiclorians tell me where to drill. They haven't failed me yet, so, may the force or a good measuring tape be with you.
Old 06-10-06, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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You can put a hole in the wall where you want you speaker terminals. Get a helper and a fish. Have the helper install the fish and bang it at the floor. You should hear it tapping where you are at. Then drill away!!

Old 06-13-06, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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First of all, good choice! It's not all that difficult to run wire through the walls when you have access from the basement, and you'll end up with a very clean, professional-looking install.

Here are a couple of tricks that I have found helpful:
  1. Try to orient yourself in the basement based on landmarks upstairs. You'll want to identify where the stud wall connects to the subfloor with reasonable certainty. Look for telltale rows of nails.
  2. Note that the 2x4 wall may "attach" over a double joist downstairs, so you may not have ready access downstairs. All isn't lost in this case, but you'll probably want to drill a (small!) test hole to verify your location. Small holes are easier to fix. nap's nail approach would work nicely.
  3. Upstairs, check for nearby electrical outlets, and use a stud finder with a built-in electrical field sensor. You'll want to use these landmarks as possible ways to orient yourself, but you'll also want to avoid stud cavities with high voltage wiring if at all possible. That will reduce any hum on your speakers once finished.
  4. Use a flashlight once you have a hole in the wall and from downstairs. If you missed the stud cavity, drill another hole downstairs into your "next guess" of the correct stud cavity. All isn't lost!

Good luck with the project.
Old 06-13-06, 03:25 PM
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I just have to share this one anecdote concerning this exact thing and to let you know that even seasoned electricians make mistakes sometimes.

In my area we have a community help project called Christmas is April where all the trades repair homes for lower income folks for free.

So a couple guys were in the basement and were drilling up into a stud cavity to add a recep. The floor and the bottom plate of the wall should have been about 2- 2 1/2 inches. After careful measurement, with confidence of having the "correct" spot to drill marked, one of the sparky's starts drilling. Now mind you, even the experienced ones use some caution and luckily this time, this guy did as well. He was drilling a smaller hole than need just in case of a mis-measurement.

Well he starts drilling. After 2 or 3 inches he figured he should be through but he hasn't broke through yet. Well, he thinks maybe the floor is a bit thicker than first guesstimated so he keeps drilling.

Well he finally buries his bit at about 6 inches or so and still hasn't broken through yet.
Now he's thinking he has drilled into a stud within the wall so he is going to have to move over a couple inches to hit a stud cavity.

One of the other guys figures they should re-measure just to be sure of correct placement. Well when this guy goes to measure, the piano that was near the wall was in his way so he figured he is going to move it. Now as he moves the piano, he sees this hole in the floor. Now that is a strange site indeed but he figures he can use this as a reference point to measure for the correct spot with no further mis-measurement. So this guy pokes something through the hole and immediately hears from the guy that was drilling a minute ago, "hey, where did you find my drill hole?"

Yes, even the seasoned guys make mistakes but the one thing they did do right is they drilled the hole so plumb that the bit went straight into the leg of the piano about 4 inches and never ruptured the side.

It made for a bit of embarrasment but also a bit of humor to break up the free labor day.
Old 10-19-06, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Seatte
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A tip that I used successfully, I learned it from a old central vac installer:

Cut the straight section of a metal coat hanger. Use your drill, and drill it into the floor here the wall and floor meet. Then from the basement measure in about 2 1/4 inches and there is the center of your wall.

The beauty of this technique is:
1) Does not catch on and ruin the carpet.
2) The hole is not formed by removing material, so there is no mess to clean up.
Old 10-19-06, 12:12 PM
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Look for electrical cables coming into the basement from receptacles or light switches in the wall.
Old 10-23-06, 06:03 PM
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I used the method described by robm15 when I rewired my house and it took all the guess work out. The hole made by the wire is so small, there was no filling needed.

Old 10-23-06, 09:16 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
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Get yourself a small powerful magnet, tie it to a string and the end of a pencil. Hang the magnet inside the wall like a plumb-bob. Go in the basement with a small compass like the boyscouts use. You should be able to locate the magnet pretty close. Drill a 1/4 inch hole up through the subfloor and the wall plate. Then use the coathanger trick to fish the wire.

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