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Chasing Cables the Easy Way

how to chase cables easily

Chasing cables - what a feaking nightmare. Have you ever had to do this by hand yourself? The drilling, the chiselling, the dust, the arm ache, oh it's a real pain in the butt. All for the sake of hidden cables in a wall. Don't get me wrong - it's totally worth it.. Surface trunking is gloriously dated, but it's still a damn hassle that takes way longer than it should and creates no end of chaotic mess.

BUT, there is an easier way. A way that creates almost no dust, a way that saves you all the arm ache and a way that takes absolutely no time at all. Let me introduce you to.... The wall chaser!

If you read my 2016 renovation cost round-up, you'll already know we spent A LOT of money on new DIY tools over the last year. A wall chaser was one of them, and it's possibly our new favourite tool and something I totally wish we'd invested in earlier! It's basically a circular saw for the wall, cutting two parallel lines into the wall, like slicing through butter. Depending on the material, the inner section between the lines either falls out, or requires a quick chisel to flop out. But it then leaves you with a perfectly cut consistent gap for fitting cables into. The best bit? It takes minutes!

wall chaser vs by hand

You can see the photo on the left is the chasing we had achieved by hand, taking around 1hour (it's actually cement render on the wall, not just plaster!) And the right photo is chasing that's been done by the wall chaser, perfectly cut and took no more than 5 minutes.

So, you might think, this is obviously a job for an electrician. But, unless you're having new cabling put in place, this is something you can totally do yourself to save money. Disconnecting a socket and re-connecting it, is literally all the electrical DIY required and as long as you're confident in that, there's no regulations broken here. (I say that now, the regulations are ever-changing, so do make sure to do your own research first!). Of course if you need to reposition a switch or socket and there's not enough cable to do so, then that may be a different matter. And likewise for any new sockets you might want installing. But for arguments sake - taking a socket off the wall, sinking the cables into the wall and reconnecting everything back up does not necessarily warrant the crazy electrician prices they may charge!

chasing walls for electrics

And in our case, we need to make every saving we can! There isn't a single wire in the house that's been chased into the wall (unless we've done it ourselves!) so a wall chaser seemed like a worthwhile investment - if for nothing else, for the time it will save us!

So the wall chaser we purchased was from the Titan brand (I believe this is a Screwfix own-brand). We have a few tools from this line and they're really quite good quality for a ridiculously good price. This is probably the priciest tool we've purchased from the range, at a cost of £85! But, I guess it is a pretty niche tool. Most people have drills, few have a wall chaser. So, I thought I'd share why I love it and why I should have bought it sooner!

Bespoke Cutting Sizes

The cutting discs can be altered to cut varying widths and varying thickness's which makes it perfect for different sized cables and different amounts of cables that are being fed together. Obviously a single cable for a light switch is going to need a much thinner and shallower chasing compared to a socket with two (thicker) ring cables going in and out. When we've chased by hand, the deeper and thicker the gap needed to be, the longer it would take. The chasing tool takes no extra time and just does it all in one go.

Zero Dust (yes, zero!)

It also has an outlet for attaching a vacuum (we have the Karcher MV3 vacuum - review here) which means no dust. At all! If you've renovated a home, you'll understand how much of a godsend this is! Of course there will still be bits of brick everywhere - but I guess you can't have it all.

DIY wall chasing

It takes minutes & Cuts perfectly, every time!

Before we bought this tool, we chased cables manually by hand with a chisel. This would take HOURS. And I mean hours. And the cuts were far from perfect. A wall chaser takes minutes and leaves perfect cuts, every time. The plaster flops right off in shallow cuts and if there's any brick remaining in deeper cuts, a quick few minutes of chiselling gets rid of it. It's so quick, I'm literally gutted we hadn't bought it sooner!

Save Yourself some Dollar

By chasing cables and back boxes yourself instead of an electrician, you can save heaps (and heaps!) of cash. Whilst the tool isn't by any means cheap, it'll come in handy for every room in our house and its cost is still much cheaper than if we had gotten an electrician in.

how t o chase cables for electrics

So this is how we've been spending our time recently. Or, I should say - a couple of months back (I'm really rather behind on the blog front!). The wiring in the kitchen was absolutely fine (we had all circuits tested with our new fuse box a couple of years back!) but since part of our kitchen was previously the old shower room, all the electrics were a little clumped up at one side of the room. We've managed to spread the sockets out and chase them properly into the wall, so we no longer have any nasty trunking in this room.

We've also relocated the light switch in the dining room, which used to be located across the room. So you would essentially have to walk into darkness and cross the room (in said darkness!) before turning the lights on. Now they're at the door, where you would really expect them to be and there's less of a hazard tripping into the darkness. ;)

wall chasers - worth the investment

The only negative I have about this tool (I can't say whether this transfers across all wall chasers!) is that it can't cut all the way to the ceiling - you have to do the last 5cm or so by hand. The blade is a little lower than the top of the device, so you end up hitting the ceiling with the front of the tool and not being able to reach it with the blade. It's not really a huge deal, I just think there's definitely room for improvement here.

I don't often share our new tool purchases in so much detail (although I do intend on doing a 'what's in our tool bag' kind of post at some point!) but this purchase is just a little bit different to your an average DIYers tool and I wanted to share it. It's certainly not just for electricians and neither is chasing cables.

Anyway, our kitchen electrics are now completely done (hurrah!) which is a huge tick off the DIY to do list and since we've done everything ourselves, we've saved a bag of cash by not having to hire out an electrician.

Do you have any non-typical DIY tools in your tool bag? 

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