STEP FOUR: START BANGING and DRILLING: When you get back from the store or garage -or wherever you had to go to get fasteners, the hardest part of the job is done. You still have to do things right, so let’s take the simplest example first, -a tall narrow case and a single stud close to its center. Here is what to do.
1. Drive a nail into the wall where you think the center of the stud is. Use a small finish nail and be gentle. If it goes in too easily, you missed the stud. Move it 1/2 and inch to the right or the left and try again. If it still missed go 1/2 inch in the other direction. If you still get nothing, go out another 1/2 inch in each direction. If you have to go out much further then this, ether your knuckles are defective or your electronic stud finder needs a new battery. Stop and rethink things. If you do find wood -and the nail will let you know- don’t drive it in -pull it out. Then move the nail to the right or left 1/2 and inch and try again. What you are looking for now is the EDGE of the stud. When you know roughly where the edge of the stud is, you can figure where the center of the stud is, and this is much more useful then simply knowing that the stud is somewhere under your first nail hole. When you find the edge, back up 3/4 inch and make a little mark. If you want to get fancy, make a vertical mark and then put a little circle around it. Ø this means center.
2. Now measure from this point to the mark you made to show the edge of the case when it’s where you want it.
3. Duplicate this measurement on the inside of the case -being sure to SUBTRACT FOR THE THICKNESS OF THE CASE SIDE. Make a little mark (maybe a neat little X) about 2 inches down from the top and 2 inched up from the bottom of the inside of the case.
4. Drill a hole through the back of the case. The size of the hole is a function of the type of fastener you are going to use. For the time being, use a 1/8″ bit.
5. Now is a good time to have a helper because you are going to use one hand to hold up the case and the other hand to hold the level and get everything lined up and your third hand drill holes in your wall through the holes in your case.* Drill these holes with some authority. Drill through the sheet rock and into the underlying wood stud. Here is how to select the right bit: Hold both the bit and screw up to the light. You are looking for a drill bit that is just a little bigger then the shank of the screw, -this is the part before the threads. If you are drilling into hard wood, you might want to go up a size. For sheet-rock screws, for example, drill a hole with the same 1/8-inch bit.
6. Change the drill bit for a 3/16-inch bit. Now enlarge the holes on your case. You want the screw to pass through this hole easily. In this way, the little holes in the wall are perfectly co-centric with the holes in your case.
7. Change bits again -this time for a driver. Double check for location and level, and if everything is as it should be, go ahead and drive your screws. No need to overdo it, the screws are so strong, (in tension) that they can pull the back right off your case. All you need is for the case to fit neatly against the wall.
So far so good, but what about the situations where there is no stud in a co-operative location and you’re using hollow-wall anchors? Most of what you do is the same as using a simple screw. Measure things, but measuring is not so important because you aren’t counting on hitting a stud anyway. (Do a TLAR -That Looks About Right)
A. Drill smallish holes through the back of your box and then transfer these holes to your wall.
B. Change drill bits and enlarge the holes in your wall to 1/4″. Don’t worry that this seems a gosh-awful big hole -you will cover most of it up.
C. Now carefully drive the anchor into the hole. You just need to set the little teeth on the back of the flange into the sheet-rock. You might give it an extra tap to get the flange to sit flush with the wall, but don’t over-do it.
D. This next part is the tricky bit. You want to use your drill and driver to turn the screw till it deforms the anchor. You want to do this just enough. If you do it too much, you will break it and have to start all over again. How do you know when you are tight? Drive the screw slowly and feel for when it gets hard. Or listen for your drill slowing down. If you have a scrap of sheet-rock handy, burn an anchor doing a practice run. This is probably the best solution -it will make you an instant expert. Once in a while, the little bolt on the end of the anchor breaks off for no good reason. You have to start all over again, -no way to salvage it.
E. Remove the screw -it’s actually a bolt- and put it through a washer and then through the back of your case.
F. Hang it all on the wall. It’s possible that you will have both regular screws and hollow-wall-anchors on the same case. Get everything ready before you start driving things in and it will go easily.
* There is actually an easy solution to this problem when you are working alone. Do this. Find your self a stick (a 1 x 2 for example), about as long as the case is wide. Start three nails in it -one at the center and one a few inches from each end. Line the stick up below your mark that indicates the height of the bottom of the case and drive the nail in. Put your level on the stick and adjust one end or the other up or down till the level is happy and drive that nail. Then drive the last nail. This makes for a temporary shelf to level and support the case while you are fiddling about.
It’s also useful to either put the drill in your pocket, or stick it through your belt like a pirate pistol. I’d be embarrassed to tell you the number of times I’ve gotten a thing all lined up and in place perfectly, and reached for my drill and found it just out of reach, and I’m supposed to be a pro.
Bill Harvey is an expert cabinet maker and the author of Collector’s HOW-TO -a series of online articles for the collector or hobbyist to use to protect the valuable stuff. He also owns Home-Museum.com -a source for display and drawer cases just for collectors.
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