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RotoZip tool and Sheet Rock Installation

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  • RotoZip tool and Sheet Rock Installation

    I learned something today about sheet rock and the roto-zip tools.

    A year ago we had some flooding in our area and several hundred homes were flooded. One home out in the country was flooded but the elderly couple did not get help. I found out about it just before Christmas. We got some volunteers to go and help the couple who were living with a daughter in a small home.

    Five of us managed to buy enough sheet rock and personally install 1 and 1/2 bed rooms, and two bath rooms this past spring. I found a church about 150 miles away with a large group of experienced sheet rockers (and electricians) to agree to come and finish the inside of the house. We have some furniture also to help.

    NOW to the point of sheet rock and the rotozip. Two weeks ago, 4 men from the church group came to look the house over and figure out the material and logistics for their group. They left. The next day I get a call from Jim:

    “Hank, can you go back and count the number of outlets and switches that have NOT been sheet rocked already?”

    Me: Yes.

    Jim: We will send the electrician over before the sheet rocking and we are going to re-wire everything. We want to bring new electrical boxes and install them too so it will speed up the sheet rocking.”

    Me: Ok I will find out.

    I call Jim and tell him 21 outlets not sheet rocked.

    Then I ask: What does the electrical box type have to do with speeding up sheet rock installation?

    Jim: If they have the smooth rounded corner metal boxes, we just mark roughly where the outlet is, tack the sheet rock in place, stick the rotozip in at the x mark and move to the edge of the box, and then position the rotozip outside and follow the contour of the box. That speeds up installation by not having to measure each peace of sheet rock for outlets.

    He said - you can’t use the rotozip with plastic very well, or the square edged boxes either. The round cornered ones speed up the installation by about ten minutes per sheet where there is an outlet.

    The rounded edge type that you use rotozips to follow the contour:

    Learned something new today!
    Hank Lee

    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

  • #2
    Electrical contractors around here hate rotozips. Their story is the rotozip damages their wire. When we built our house the electrician was explaining this to me, not knowing I own several rotozips and how to use them on sheet rock. I pointed out to him if his helper would tuck the wire back into the box the rotozip bit wouldn't hit it, and he should get over it, the sheet rock installer was entitled to use time saving tools just as the electricians did! I noticed that he installed square metal boxes, probably because I wouldn't keep the dry wall crew from using rotozips. Overall the worst wiring job I've seen, kinda like sending food back to the restaurant kitchen and wondering if they did anything to it!


    • #3
      When I built the garage, I used the plastic double gang boxes and cut out all of them with my root zip and didn't have a single problem either following the box or cutting the wires. The professionals that sheetrocked the house this winter, however cut through the wires in at least three boxes and completely missed a couple of can lights in the kitchen.

      The metal boxes might be easier to cut around, but our inspector says you need to install cable clamps for the wires in and out as well as pigtail a ground to the box.
      An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
      A moral man does it.


      • #4
        I've used my Rotozip a number of times on square boxes and it went fine. I establish two of the corners by cutting on the inside, then I move the cutter to the outside. I simply slow down when I am approaching a corner so I don't overshoot. Sure, you can go faster with the rounded handy boxes, but the difference isn't that significant. If you get too aggressive with the round corner boxes you can still overshoot.
        I've never destroyed any wiring because I do my own wiring and tuck the wires into the box. That seems like the proper thing to do anyway - it is a lazy electrician who doesn't protect their wiring by tucking it down into the box. Then again, I've been spoiled because I usually use conduit so there aren't any wires until the drywall is installed anyway.


        • #5
          I used the term "rotozip" and that is a brand name, but I suspect the fellows use a different brand, more like DeWalt or other. The rotozip that I owned at one time was not as tough as my other corded hand tools.

          That said, I am surprised I had not known about this technique before. But then I have never liked installing sheet rock, mudding, or painting walls!
          Hank Lee

          Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


          • #6
            I suspect that those that cut the wiring are not using the correct bit. I think I remember a rotozip bit that has a unsharpened end simular to a route bit with a bearing that is intended to follow the box and notbe so hard on the wiring.

            The problem I had with my electrician was caused by my "builder" ( the county requires a licensed by them builder ) who had contracted the electrician to build to code. There is a way big difference in wiring to meet code and the way the homeowner wants it. I wanted the house lights and receptical wired in zones, which can be done by the code. I also wanted a specific routing of all the wiring throughout the house in the attic because this house has about 1000 sf of livable floor space if I choose to later build it out. If the attic area is later finished I didn't want to have to re wire and re plumb the house because the wiring and plumbing were scattered about on the joists. The plumber followed the routing plan but the electrician slipped that one by me, and still didn't wire in zones like I requested. Ya gotta love um.


            • Slik Geek
              Slik Geek commented
              Editing a comment
              I'm aware of two types of Rotozip bits. As you indicated, the drywall bit has an non-machined (smooth) end that acts as a bearing or guide. You set the depth such that the cutter section only extends roughly as deep as the drywall is thick. The other bits are sharpened all the way to the tip.

              Regarding problem electricians... I have a friend who just had a semi-custom house built. He requested a significant number of additional outlets in the garage (his man-cave). The electrician complied, giving him something like 10-15 outlets in the garage, workbench-height as he requested. After closing, he noticed that all of the outlets were wired to the same breaker! To add insult, the breaker was only a 15A, not at 20A like you would expect. According to Mike Holt's web site, the electrical code only restricts the number of outlets on a circuit in commercial applications (10 for a 15A breaker). No limit in residences.

          • #7
            My understanding of it, is the Rotozip, was nothing more then a sheet rock saw/cutter with a fancier bit, so it could be marketed for other uses. I obtained mine, years ago, for $5 or $10, damaged, when the recall was out. They sent me a new one and I put my old in that box (don't remember the order).
            I've used it once, but that one use would have cost me more then that in rental, so it just sits there until I decide I need it, or sell it. I did find the plunge router base for it around that time and thought now I have a trim router, however every time I have been close to using it, I have already had a full size router setup.
            She couldn't tell the difference between the escape pod, and the bathroom. We had to go back for her.........................Twice.


            • #8
              Originally posted by leehljp View Post

              The rounded edge type that you use rotozips to follow the contour:
              Only problem is those boxes don't meet code for most applications. The box is only large enough to include one receptacle and one wire - running a "daisy chained" cable exceeds the allowable box fill. While they technically can be used for a GFCI, they are really too small for that application as well.

              As others have said, the installers are likely not using the right bit or are not using the tool correctly. The Rotozip is really just a more powerful router. The bit I use has a fixed "bearing" on the end, and the depth is adjusted so only the bearing runs on the box. It is quick work to run it around the box, no damage to the box or wire since there is no cutter inside the box.

              They have been using them on the home improvement shows for at least 10 and likely 20 years, not sure how you could have missed it :-)

              Electrical Engineer by day, Woodworker by night


              • #9
                Originally posted by woodturner View Post

                They have been using them on the home improvement shows for at least 10 and likely 20 years, not sure how you could have missed it :-)
                Well, for starters . . . I don't have time to watch home improvement or other shows that much. I have no clue as to what home improvement shows are on our TV or when. I am just not a TV guy. . . except; except to watch with LOML. She loves watching movies and TVs and talking! So I accommodate her! OH, And I was overseas for 14 of the last 20 years.

                I am an INTP, the logician. I cannot stand to watch 30 minutes of TV or video to find 2 minutes of tips; that drives me crazy waiting to get to the point. Not worth it! I used to read news papers articles when they had REAL journalists: Opening short paragraph - gives the gist; If it draws me in, I will read the details.
                Hank Lee

                Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!