In-Ceiling Speakers – Taking a different route(r)

I am out in NY at a project that is still in the construction stage. All wire is pulled but it isn’t time for trim yet. I came out to get the lighting system fired up. When i got here i found all of our porch/deck speaker wires coming out of tiny holes instead of their brackets.

The ceiling for the covered outdoor areas are wood. Plywood then tongue and groove slats. 1-1/4″ depth with tons of nails. About half of the speaker locations had a hole large enough for me to get my hand inside so it was easy to figure out where the joists were. The other half were 1/2″ holes and took 3 times as long because i had to break out my old school tools/techniques to find the center of the stud. Ok i pretty much just used a solid piece of wire and spun it around until it hit something :). It did take 3 times as long because i wanted to be careful and of course the electrician mounted the lights and the fans up against a joist making it impossible to center speakers in some areas.

My first instinct was to break out the sawzall with a thin blade. Since the ceilings were painted and done this idea got thrown out. Second idea was a jigsaw. After counting the number of speakers (20) i decided that manuevering a jigsaw upside down was probably a bad idea. Third idea was to use a Labor Saving Device hole saw. I posted at Remote Central about it. A few people voted for the LSD product. A few for one from another company and one guy brought up the rotozip with a circle cutter. I have some experience with cutting speakers out with a rotozip. It works fine but the bit kept snapping and it was hard to keep the line straight after my arms got tired. The circle cutter might have made it easier. I didn’t think it would be a good fit for wood but it gave me an idea. A router!

I got a piece of furniture grade wood from the cabinet guys. Then i picked up an expensive hole saw and cut a template. I used a countersink bit to drill 4 holes in the template about 1/8″ from the circle cut out so that i could mount it to the ceiling. The speaker bezel/grille covers these holes. The router worked very well. I was able to cut most speakers out with 1 quick pass using a 1-1/4″ bit. The shank on 2 bits broke off when they hit nails. They were $25 each… ouch. Photos below.


  • rob

    December 25, 2011

    $25 bucks x2 for some really nice holes seems a bit on the high side. You probably would have had more luck with a spiral downcut bit. That way the fuzzies get pushed into the hole and you get a clean cut and probably a little bit more luck when you hit a nail. Nice idea though. If it were me I would have gotten the utility knife and recip saw out… 🙂

    • admin

      December 29, 2011

      I had 20 to cut speakers so 2 busted bits wasn’t too bad. The problem is that the ceiling is toung and groove nailed to plywood. Tons of hidden nails beat the heck out of the router bits.

      I wanted to use a reciprocating saw. We decided against it because the Sonance Visual Performance speakers are not very forgiving and the ceilings were painted. There was a wedding on the property the following day so not much room for error.

  • Isaac

    June 30, 2012

    Through past posts etc, I’ve noticed your company has a knack for keeping things profitable, making sure hours are billable and overall charging where charges are due.

    So out of curiosity, would a (relatively) small snafu like this incur additional charges or not?

    • admin

      July 2, 2012

      Every change is billable. This one in particular cost me $250 in tools that i had to buy locally and 10 labor hours. The cost is passed to the client and then the client can choose to make the builder (or whoever) accountable for the charges.


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