Matt Wyczalkowski over on the always-helpful Rehabbers Club Yahoo group - which is devoted to sharing info among old-home rehabilitators in and around St. Louis, Missouri - sent us a short report on the ongoing and extensive electrical upgrades in his home:
I am in the process of updating the knob and tube wiring in my 1923 bungalow. Room by room, I am replacing the existing wiring with modern Romex, and adding new receptacles and lights where they are needed. When the house was built, one outlet per (large) room was considered to be perfectly adequate!
One of the challenges of adding receptacles is making accurate cutouts in plaster walls; the cutouts need to fit snugly around the old-work boxes being installed, and this can be a challenge with brittle plaster-and-lathe walls. I found that using a template for the cutout, along with different drill bits for cutting the plaster and the lathe, is an efficient and reliable way to go. It also keeps sawing, which could separate the lathe from the plaster, to a minimum. Finally, an expanding foam sealer helps to keep the box secure and cut down on drafts.
I documented a recent project - installing a sconce light on a wall - with photographs.
Thanks, Matt! I am sure your photo-documentary will be helpful for other folks going through the same process. This is an accurate and relatively easy way to make cutouts for old boxes, which are often irregular and in odd shapes.