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Thread: Cutting Plaster on Wood Lath

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    NJ
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    44

    Cutting Plaster on Wood Lath

    I've been getting more and more jobs in houses with old wood lath and plaster. My method has always been to use a Rotozip with a tile cutting bit (I use the 1/4" bit hoping it will last longer than the 1/8" bit) to cut the plaster and then use a wood cutting Rotozip bit to cut the lath. Sometimes I burn the wood cutting bit up in the lath even if I go slow. This is a long process and the dust travels EVERYWHERE which isn't the customer's favorite thing to see.

    What do you guys do? Tips or tricks appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Scotland Neck, NC
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    439
    Quote Originally Posted by NewOnMyOwn View Post
    I've been getting more and more jobs in houses with old wood lath and plaster. My method has always been to use a Rotozip with a tile cutting bit (I use the 1/4" bit hoping it will last longer than the 1/8" bit) to cut the plaster and then use a wood cutting Rotozip bit to cut the lath. Sometimes I burn the wood cutting bit up in the lath even if I go slow. This is a long process and the dust travels EVERYWHERE which isn't the customer's favorite thing to see.

    What do you guys do? Tips or tricks appreciated!
    The newer rotozip have a vacumn port to attact a shop vac. Failing that it will take two people to hold a vac hose near the cutter. Once I have the plaster cut I don't have a problem burning bits on the wood lathe. Don't touch the plaster!!!! Same as a momentary dip in the dirt with a chain saw. Your Done!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    848
    Quote Originally Posted by NewOnMyOwn View Post
    I've been getting more and more jobs in houses with old wood lath and plaster. My method has always been to use a Rotozip with a tile cutting bit (I use the 1/4" bit hoping it will last longer than the 1/8" bit) to cut the plaster and then use a wood cutting Rotozip bit to cut the lath. Sometimes I burn the wood cutting bit up in the lath even if I go slow. This is a long process and the dust travels EVERYWHERE which isn't the customer's favorite thing to see.

    What do you guys do? Tips or tricks appreciated!

    Are you talking installing boxes where just wires are now? Asking because I just did 5 in a 1870 house. Half K&T half newer romex. No boxes in the ceilings on 1st floor. I sread a dropcloth took my roto zip and vaccum cleaner hose up the ladder and went at it.
    The more I learn the less I seem to know....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    75
    I also use a rotozip with a tile bit. But I use the tile bit on the lath as well. First I cut the plaster and knock it away. Then I use the bit to cut the lath slowly. I find there is less chance to burn out the tile bit with the wood.

    I have also just purchased a Fien Tool. I have used it with a grout bit to cut into some very hard plaster. Then the wood blade to cut the lath. There is a lot less dust and following a straight line is very easy. I do have to remove some of the plaster in the corners by hand or I could roto zip that part as well. My employee loves the Fein tool as he butchers the plaster otherwise. (porbably saved his job).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    265
    I have the Craftsman version of the Fein tool. WHY? Because it is cordless. It is a very useful tool. The tool is only $99. Extra battery is $25. Flush cut blades are (2) for $12.

    Yes the Fein is also a great tool. I wanted to try the Craftsman to see how it would work. I am happy to say it works quite well.

    It is great for cutting in boxes, trimming 2x4's to get a box to fit, and just general cutting.

    Plaster will chew up the wood blades, so yes, use a tile blade.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    265
    Oh, the Craftsman also has a vacuum port. I rarely use it though since it doesn't kick up a lot of dust.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Delmarva, USA
    Posts
    1,645
    You have to use a good shop vac when roto-zipping, or else the dust will be everywhere. The accessory head can be bought separately, with a nozzle for your vacuum hose:

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Northern NJ
    Posts
    608
    We outline a square for the box with a drill 1/4" or smaller (many holes) then even off the edges of the plaster with a razor.

    The wood lath is a PIA. We drill through the lath then snap off with needle nose.

    The roto zip lost favor with us. We couldn't get the bits to last.
    Joe Howard
    Elec Contractor

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    44
    Hey guys, thanks for the replies.

    I kinda lied in the first post to make it easier, I actually have the Dewalt version of the Rotozip, not the Rotozip brand. Because of that, the vacuum attachment doesn't fit (I bought one and had to return it).

    However if the Rotozip method is what you guys think is the best tool, I'll go buy a Rotozip brand model and vacuum attachment.

    jzadroga, that's interesting that you use the Tile bit for the wood lath, definitely easier than changing out hot bits halfway thru the job. The wood lath doesn't dull the tile bit? Anyone else have any experience with this method?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    461

    old fashion way

    Ive allways used the 1/4 masonary drill bit through the plaster and sometimes through the lath. After the holes are cut and the plaster is knocked away, I use a hacksaw blade to cut through the lath. I have found through trial and error it is best to cut 7/8 of the way of both sides of openning before finishing a final cut, it keeps the lathe from slapping away from the hole. Vertical spacing between the laths can vary for house to house for a cut-in box. I usually remove 2 1/8 laths, to remove 1/8 of a lath, make two vertical cuts with the hacksaw blade and split off the middle with pliers.

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