How to install an old workbox: Clamping style studless outlet box

How to install an old workbox: Clamping style studless outlet box

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Johann a TV mounting Technician and Editor
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Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Johann Holsinger

Need to install electric outlet with no studs nearby?

Installing your newly bought TV or simply rearranging your home theater system in a much better location is one of the most exciting DIY projects you can do at home.

The problem when mounting your TV brackets is that existing walls may not have electrical sockets to plug in your TV.

And if your desired location doesn’t have studs nearby, this is where a studless electrical box helps.

Wall for TV outlet

How does an old work outlet box work?

You can move and replace the old fitting or retrofit the electrical box without fastening the box onto a stud or removing or adding framing to your wall.

An outlet box for the studless part of the wall has a simple clamping mechanism that tightens behind the drywall while attaching a screw to the front of the back wall [1]. 

You can locate these clamps at the back of the box on top and at the bottom of the outlet box, creating a nice secure hold.

Here’s how you can install a studless electrical outlet without studs:

Outlet box on a drywall

Step 1 Order a studless electrical box.

When looking for an electric box that is for studless installation, make sure to get the right one and not a standard outlet box.

Looking at your choices can be overwhelming.

New workboxes would have fixings on the sides that are to provide access and screws to studs.

You are looking for an outlet box without the side mounting screw holes but instead, look for front-facing screw holes and a small clamping system to grip onto the back of plasterboard when tightened. 

They can be sold to thread one electrical device (one gang). These old work boxes are made of PVC.

Carlon B114R-UPC one gang outlet box

While others would hold cables for more electrical devices.

Carlon Lamson Sessons 3 gang

Steel remodel boxes usually have plaster ears and secured stronger by madison straps attached on the sides of the box. These straps or side brackets are sold separately.

Hubbel Raco 506 Switch box steel with plaster ears with madison straps


Some old work outlets do not have boxes inside as they are dedicated to low-voltage cables.

Arlington LV1 10 Low voltage mounting bracket

Step 2 Trace the outlet on the wall.

When the outlet arrives and before tracing anything out, prepare the box’s mounting screw by loosening it a bit.

Most of the fittings come tightened by the manufacturer. Screwing it hard may damage your wall. 

Now your outlet box position is ready, start leveling it from the bottom edge of the box’s face while sitting flat on the wall. 

Start tracing the outlet box by marking the four corners with a pencil and drawing a line between the corners.

Do not include the box’s ear. Otherwise, cutting a hole in the box’s ears will leave no wall for clamps to hold on to.

Marking the wall for installing an outlet box

Step 3 Cut the hole into the wall.

You can use different tools for cutting the hole out.

You can use a scoring knife, a drywall saw, a jigsaw, a rotary cutter, a saber saw, or an oscillating tool for cutting the holes.

You can start with a scoring knife and cut the hole completely with any of the saws mentioned.

Cutting a hole in the wall for outlet box

Step 4 Run the cables into the box.

Before inserting the box or threading the old or new cables, pry the clamps open. They can be hard to open if you have already inserted the box.

Turn your power supply off before working with open cables (Never work with live cables). 

Thread the wires in the wall cutout before running them out through the box. 

.Allot about 8 to 12 inches of excess cable for the wall cutout to the electrical box.

Some boxes have allotments for both power and low-voltage cables.

Arlington LVDR2 2 Gang

You want the sheathing still secured from under the clamping tab, about 1 inch above it, with about 6 to 7 inches of exposed cables. 

A more flexible old work box would accommodate more power and low-voltage wires for your home entertainment system even without a stud.

Arlington TVBR2505K Flat Panel TV Cable Organizer

Step 5 Insert the box into the cut hole.

You can now insert the box into the cutout in the wall.

You can use the scoring knife to enlarge the hole to accommodate the outlet box if needed.

Step 6 Fasten the box into the drywall.

Tighten the mounting screws as you hold the outlet box, securing the box ears against the drywall.

The clamps will now extend outward as you drive the screw and take a grip behind the drywall.

Tighten until you can feel some resistance but remember not to overtighten as it may damage the wall.

Fastening old work box into the drywall

Step 7 Install the face plate.

Installing the face plate is no rocket science.

You only have to clip or screw it over the electrical box, and that’s it, just make sure to pick one with the buttons you need for the cables you are running.

There are many types of face plates you can install over an old work electrical box, like this recessed outlet box with a face plate from Arlington. 

Screwing an outlet for cable

When should you use an in-wall cable concealer kit?

For entertainment systems, nothing beats a complete in-wall cabling kit that you can install without studs.

If you find another way to get fixing, this is so much easier to install.

A complete in-wall cabling kit is much better if you want many different types of wires for your home entertainment or if you want to add more wires later as technology develops.

For anyone who is not comfortable with dangling cables, you can use an in-wall cabling concealer to hide all wires inside the wall.

There are appropriate slots for HDMI, Ethernet, Speaker, and low-voltage cables available.

And you can always add more as there isn’t a limiting amount of jacks as there isn’t a defined faceplate.

It all depends on the devices you’ll install next to each other, run whatever electrical cables you need.

Here are a few tips:

  • Ensure you know what cables run behind your walls.
  • Do not thread power cables behind your walls yourself.
  • Do not run data or audio cables next to or beside electrical cables inside walls.
  • Tie those low-voltage cables in bundles!
  • Always inspect your cables before running them behind the wall.

In wall cable system kit

Now that you are done.

You now have installed an outlet even without studs nearby. You can place any device next to your wall plug, like your fixed or full-motion TV mount, and still, work discreetly.

Get ready next for a brand-spanking new wooden coffee table!

Without messy wires, have a cold one on a head turner of a table!

Imagine having a living room bar fridge and an entertainment system that share their spots in the wall without worrying about hidden studs or dangling cables!

More information:

  1. Old work electrical boxes bs new work electrical boxes published in

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