Gone Fishing

We moved the upstairs computer today, into our library/study. So, I figured I’d fish some Cat 5 and install an ethernet jack there. Nothing I haven’t done before… should take, oh, an hour or so, right? Well, not this time, it turns out..

The difference between this time and all the other times I’ve fished wire, is that this time I’m fishing the wire in an outside wall. And I learned today that my outside walls apparently have lots of horizontal fire blocking in them. After awhile of fooling around in the attic with a 4′ flex drill bit (the longest one I have), I came to the conclusion that I either need a longer flex bit, or a new strategy. So, I’m going to try fishing down to the basement instead. The hitch with this is, there’s a floor joist blocking most of my access to the area where the wire would come through. However, I think there’s enough space there to get the job done.

Why don’t I just use wireless, you ask? Well, that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

Followup 11/11… OK. I can say that absolutely without question, that was the hardest I’ve ever worked to fish a wire through a wall.

After a few attempts, it became clear that wiring through the basement wasn’t going to happen. It basically boiled down to: no drilling access from below, and no way to drill a straight hole downwards through the hole in the wall. I would have had to spend more money on specialized tools, or make more holes in the wall to facilitate drilling. That made it a non-starter.

So, I went back to my original plan to fish through the attic. To get to the wall opening, I needed to drill down around 5 feet, through a top plate and two pieces of 2×4 fireblocking (the beveled ceiling in the room actually helped me out — otherwise the distance would have been greater than 5 feet). My 4 foot flex bit was not long enough. So, I lengthened it using a 12″ bit extender I had lying around. That did the trick. Here was the winning formula:

  1. Drill a 5/8″ hole through the top plate. The flex bit is only 3/8″, but the initial hole needed to be 5/8″ to accommodate the bit extender.
  2. Attach extender to flex bit, and drill through fire blocking until the drill bottoms out on the top plate.
  3. Go downstairs, locate bit in wall opening, and attach pull wire through hole in bit.
  4. Smear wire pulling lubricant on the bit and the pull wire.
  5. Go back into attic, and carefully back the bit out of the hole.
  6. Detach pull wire from bit. Attach Cat-5 wire to pull wire with electrical tape. Apply wire pulling lubricant.
  7. Go downstairs and pull wire down through wall opening.

That’s it. Seems simple, but it took several failed attempts, many swear words, and a couple of skinned fingers to get it done. Bottom line, I won’t be fishing wire through outside walls any more unless I absolutely have to…

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