Wall chaser for making grooves on walls

A grooving tool, also called wall chaser, is essential if you need to open up wall and floor channels for electrical installations.

Wall chaser

If you need to insert conduits (corrugated) to pass electrical wires, or to position plumbing pipes, the wall chaser machine is perfect for accomplishing a job that would take a lot of effort to do without the right equipment.

The materials that can be cut with a wall cutting machine are different: hollow and solid bricks, concrete and reinforced concrete, bricks and masonry, and of course wood.

In this guide I show you the main features of the different types of wall chasers that will help you make the most appropriate choice for your needs.

Why Buy a Wall Chaser

The realization of the channels for the electrical and plumbing is one of those jobs that even fans of DIY can perform.

It is mainly to break the wall just enough to be able to accommodate the corrugated and / or water pipes of the sanitary and kitchen.

This type of work, if carried out by a craftsman, takes time and money away and therefore, once the channels of the systems have been established, possibly with the help of the plumber and electrician, we can also set to work independently, saving not a little on labor.

When you have to make the channels for the electrical and plumbing for an entire house, then the investment for the purchase of a grooving machine is more than justified because it greatly reduces the time and effort.

What would be the alternative, after all?

Assuming you don't want to spend months demolishing with a bit and a sledgehammer, one of the few possible alternatives would be an angle grinder that works, in a sense, in a similar way to a wall chaser.

The big difference is that with the angle grinder you have to go through it twice, having only one disc, and that you can't connect a dust extractor to it.

Having used the grinder for this purpose, I can tell you that it is best to equip yourself with a professional grade dust mask because after a few inches of cutting the room becomes saturated with dust to the point where visibility, as well as breathing, is almost impossible.

Main features of the different types of wall chasers

A first distinction to make is between milling and diamond disc wall groovers.

Milling cutter

Features: This is the more agile of the two, as it also allows you to make curves. It mounts a tungsten carbide cutter, and sucks all the sawn track from the wall.

Materials to use it on: It is used for soft materials such as plaster, perforated and solid bricks, tuff and gasbeton (cellular concrete).

Cutting depth and width: Usually 40 mm with a width of up to 35 mm. Attention, in the milling cutter you can not select the width and depth of cut, it is the one that corresponds to the cutter mounted on that model.

Power: can range from 1,050 to 1,800 W

Diamond disc wall chaser

Features: Equipped with an aspirator, it performs two (or more) parallel grooves by means of two discs. The removal of the part of the wall between the tracks is very easy and is done with a simple chisel. Only for reinforced concrete you will need an electric hammer. Straight line cuts can be made.

The more discs on the grooving machine, the easier it will be to make channels. Six-disc groovers are professional power tools that allow you to have a track almost ready to use without having to resort to using a chisel to remove the material.

Materials to use it on: Wide range of hard materials to use them on including reinforced concrete.

Depth of cut and width: Up to 80 mm, for a track width of up to 60 mm.

Power: From 1,400 up to 2,400 W

Notes: The disc grooving machine can be traditional or in-line, depending on the motor and its angle that allows a different grip.

Which to choose between the diamond disc and cutter one?

The greater power of the disc cutter makes it ideal for extremely hard materials to cut, thanks to the diamond blades. The discs with which it is equipped can be 2, 4 or even 6, used by professionals looking for maximum performance.

The choice between one and the other depends on the material to be cut. Hard materials cannot be attacked by a milling cutter, while the opposite is true. The tools grip differently. Depth is selectable in the disc grooves as needed with the limitations described above.

The discs of both can vary in diameter, which increases their cutting capacity at the expense of weight.

Dust suction

This feature is important and should not be underestimated. Tracing the wall involves the emission of a considerable amount of dust, the aspirator, especially in the latest models is included, but it is better not to take it for granted.

How to use a wall chaser

The use of this tool must be well planned, better not to improvise anything because in addition to implications that affect the quality of the final work, it is still a dangerous tool and especially for those who are beginners there is a need not to take for granted the principles of operation.

In general it is necessary to define carefully:

  • what the cut you need to make is for: it may be plumbing work to place air conditioner ducts, or you need to insert corrugations for electrical cables. Carefully evaluate their diameter.
  • what depth and width the channel should have: don't be too narrow as you may have to redo the cut.
  • what path the grooves should cut: consider the line to be drawn and the ease of access.

In order to be able to run the track, it is necessary to draw the path in the wall or floor that will house the corrugated pipe. Normally this is done with a felt-tip pen or pencil. If you don't want to risk drawing the path not perfectly in line, you can use a laser pointer. In the most professional models, the laser is mounted on the handle and helps to keep the line of tracing well.

Can wall chasers be used on a load-bearing wall?

The load-bearing walls of a house are, first and foremost, the perimeter walls. Making tracks on load-bearing walls does not affect their stability although, obviously, much depends on the depth of the tracks.

If you have to make tracks for the laying of the corrugated pipes of the electrical system it will be enough not to set the depth of cut of the grooving machine to no more than 2.5 cm.

Considering that the tracks will then be filled with mortar again, this will certainly not affect the stability of the bearing wall.

For the realization of plumbing it would be preferable to avoid affecting the bearing walls but, in any case, the opinion of a surveyor will dispel all your doubts.

Practical advice and precautions to be observed

This tool requires special attention because of the cutting capacity that can generate potential hazards. In general, it is necessary to observe common sense rules in order not to compromise the structure of the property and your own health.

Tip #1

If you are going to make a channel on wall you must be sure that you are not going to touch electrical cables, water pipes or gas pipes. To do this you must equip yourself with a metal detector. In particular, there are many models on the market and some of them are not suitable because they are little more than gadgets and are not good for doing a certain detection work.

Tip #2

When carrying out a cut, it is necessary to have safety equipment to wear: these are glasses to protect the eyes, masks not to breathe in dust, headphones or earphones if the noise in decibels requires it and protective gloves.

Tip #3

Proceed with caution, a very deep trace on a hard material is best done in stages. It takes less force and the job will be easier to complete.

Tip #4

Open windows to avoid spreading dust in the house to the detriment even later for the breathing of the tenants. In this respect, this kind of work should be done away from children.

Tip #5

An underestimated detail is the power cord, when cutting it, take into account that it must not get in the way.

Tip #6

Before grooving, make sure you know how to handle the tool. Make traces on test materials and test the handle.

Tip #7

Maximum visibility of both the trace on the wall or floor and the surroundings.

Tip #8

Remember that channels for laying pipes and conduits do not have to be accurate to the millimeter. In other words: if you have to lay a pipe with a diameter of 2.5 cm, the width of the groove must be at least 3.5 cm, so that the mortar that we are going to add is welded to the surrounding wall.

If the housing will be too precise, the mortar will be distributed too thinly with the consequence that, hardening, it could detach from the wall, making all the work in vain.

Tip #9

A "defect" of wall chasers, if you want to call it that, is their precision.

Referring back to what was written in tip n°8, it must be said that the clean cut of the tracks does not facilitate the setting of the mortar with which we are going to close them.

In particular, if we are going to make tracks on a wall already plastered, it would be good to make some "burrs" with a hammer along the entire channel. These "teeth" will allow the mortar to adhere better to the plaster.