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Thread: Tips For Shop Wiring?

  1. #1

    Tips For Shop Wiring?

    I've just taken possession of a new house and detached shop building from my contractor, and for budget and entertainment reasons I am going to run my own electrical and finish the interior on my own. I've selected OSB for both walls and ceiling of the 30 x 40 space that will be subdivided by a non load bearing wall into a 14x30 boat bay and 26x30 shop. Pole-barn type construction with both walls and joists 24 on center.

    I'm trying to puzzle through the options for wiring, and looking for tips or experiences to help me decide.
    1. I could bury my wiring in the studs and nail in handiboxes on wall studs such that I have flush receptacles once the OSB is up. That would be cleanest, perhaps, but I have no prior experience in marking out/notching panels so that they fit around the handiboxes. Are there tricks of the trade for getting that right/tight?

    2. Similar to #1, I could bury my wiring in the studs, but leave wires hanging loose - then, each time I put up a panel, I could drill out a hole large enough for the romex to pass through into the back of the handiboxes and surface mount them.

    3. Most expensive would be get the walls and ceiling up, then surface mount and run conduit. Since I get a little over-killish on the number of circuits both 120 and 240 that I plan for each wall, that would actually entail double-runs of conduit between boxes on each wall, as I have a lot of wires to pass through.

    Thoughts, suggestions, don't-do-that's all welcome...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Greater Manor Metroplex, TX
    If you are okay with surface mounted electrical boxes and since you are working with OSB, I would recommend #2.

    Cutting out the holes for #1 in OSB would be a PIA and slow. With sheetrock to cut out for an electrical box, I take a couple of reference measurements, mount the sheet to the wall and then use a rotozip to cut out the hole around the box. Not sure if a rotozip (or something similar) would work with OSB. If it didn't, you would have to use a jig saw on the sheet before you hung it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Central MA
    What is your budget and what is your experience level/understanding of rough wiring? Lots of ways to attack this but the answers to both questions will dictate.

  4. #4
    #1. You will quickly learn how to locate the receptacle cutouts.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  5. #5
    Completely comfortable with wiring/stripping etc. and my way around the breaker box. No experience (and I expect low frustration threshold) with things like bending clothes hangers to fiddle around inside a cavity to fish out wires. As to budget, every dollar I spend on finishing the shop is a dollar less I can throw at the black hole that is a fishing boat.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    I used 1/2 OSB on the walls and ceiling of my 24' x 28' shop and flush mounted the boxes. Since there were a lots of outlets to cut I bought one of the Multi Mark Magnetic locaters. It work reasonably well but you do have to present the OSB to the wall, remove it to cut and put it back, possibly a second time to tweak the holes since you can't bash it over a box like you can with drywall. It gets a little tiresome when you have a lot to do by yourself and you should double check the locations by measuring in case something shifted. Errant holes are not easy to patch. The Multi Mark is setup for stock metal boxes so you will have to adjust the cutouts for plastic or 220V boxes. The OSB is all screwed to the walls and ceiling in case changes are ever needed. I paid the drywall crew of 3 to do the vaulted ceiling and they had it done in less than 3 hours. Should have had them do the walls too.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Highland MI
    Blog Entries
    A useful tool for a big wiring project is a 12' three piece flexible fiberglass fish rod. I am starting to like using PVC conduit and thhn wire in lieu of romex.
    NOW you tell me...

  8. #8
    Put any exterior lighting in the wall. Surface mount everything else in conduit. Stranded wire is so much easier to deal with, and you'll have a simple system so you're not going to have to worry about crashing into things with your emt.

    Why surface mount? If you want to add or change anything, it's right there and easy to either demo or change.

  9. #9
    Plus you can mix voltages and amperage requirements in the same run of pipe.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Pepperell Ma.
    I am a complete newbie to woodworking, in fact I just completed my workshop in my basement, have yet to actually make something, other than what was needed for the shop. ( And yes I am aware that I will most likely be redoing the set-up, as I get experienced, and realize what I shoulda done the first time). BUT I am an electrician (The wiring in my shop is very sufficient! LOL). My experience as an electrician is that things/needs/requirements change. If doable I would always go with pipe (and go at least one size larger than initial requirements would seem to indicate, if possible). A new machine (say a CNC) or something else my feeble imagination can't come up with, is easily added. Yes running some NMC (Romex) would likely be cheaper/easier in the beginning, but adding circuits after the fact is SO much cheaper and easier with pipe. It's just much more flexible for the future. I'm not saying that it's not possible to nail it from the getgo using Romex in the shop, just so much more work to add more down the road. The more single Romex runs you do, the better the future flexibility is. You can switch it in the panel from 120 volts to 220 volts. Just my .02$ (I had to sell the boat when I got married, so I understand the battle). Good luck, Artie

  11. #11
    Screw your waferboard to the studs so you can pull off a panel to change wiring. No glue behind the board either. I drill a single 1/2" hole where the box is, so I can stick the wire through, then use a jigsaw to cut around the box. Careful not to hit a wire with the jigsaw. Take a hammer handle and push the wires into the back of the box before installing the wall board. MUCH easier than trying to fit the boxes perfectly with a tape and square.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Andrew View Post
    Screw your waferboard to the studs so you can pull off a panel to change wiring.
    Good advice. I put all my (1/2") wall and ceiling paneling up with screws for that reason. I've taken one 4x8 sheet down two times to add to wiring (extra emergency light and 220 to a lathe).

    If I had used sheetrock it would have been a lot of cutting and patching. (And mounting things would be a LOT harder)


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    TX / LA border.. Toledo Bend
    John.... Based on your posts.........

    Sorry, but right off the bat w the "Handiboxes" you are not familiar w this work.

    Plastic, or if not... 1900 boxes w/ appropriate mud rings is way more appropriate.

    Also, there is no need here for conduit, at least for the majority of your needs.

    That is speaking as a previous now retired MN Master Electrician and contractor.

    I would HIGHLY suggest to consult w a Licensed Electrician that is familiar w your type of work, then go from there.

    If you mandate DIY where you have not knowledgeably trodden, at minimum pay him to advise and oversee.

    Last edited by Marc Jeske; 08-12-2017 at 11:20 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Leesville, SC
    All 3 methods are doable.

    Method #1. With plastic boxes and romex. Steal a tube of lipstick from your wife, rub the lipstick on the edges of the box, press the OSB board against the box and you have an outline of the box to cut out.
    If lip stick doesn't work, just take accurate measurements.

    Method #2. Much easier and quicker.

    Method #3. My favorite. This is how I wired my shop. Surface mounted boxes with EMT.

    One suggestion would be to use 2 gang boxes so you could put 2 duplex receptacles in each box.
    Also it is good not to put OSB board directly on your concrete floor. Use a couple of spacers when installing your OSB.
    Army Veteran 1968 - 1970
    NRA Lifetime Member
    I Support the Second Amendment of the US Constitution

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Central MA
    #3. Run 1" conduit in a ring around the perimeter of the shop at ceiling height. Start at the panel with two stubs up to go in each direction. Every 10' install a 4&11/16" junction box. Drop down out of the JB's with 1/2" conduit to 4" boxes as needed. Use a single #10 wire to ground everything, and install wire and receptacles as needed. If you're comfortable with Edison circuits (multi wire branch circuits) you can have two 120 volt and one 240 volt outlet in each 4" box with only three conductors plus the ground. Don't overdo the circuits to start, grow into what you need.

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