How to Snake Cable Through Walls

Snaking cables through walls can be done quickly with the use of a tool called a fish tape, which is a long, thin metal ribbon that becomes rigid when uncoiled from a spool.

The fish tape is guided behind two points in a wall. The cable attaches to a hook on one end of the fish tape, which is then retrieved, dragging the cable along with it. Basic precautions, such as shutting off the electrical power to the outlets in the wall, are essential for running cables safely.

Turn off the power at the circuit breaker in the room where you'll be working.

Mark the two points on the wall where the cable will enter and exit. For example, speaker wires for a home theater system will need to emerge from the wall near the entertainment center where the receiver is located, and at the spot where the speakers connect to the ceiling or are placed next to a wall.

Drill a hole at one point in the wall big enough to insert the fish tape. If an outlet plate will be installed, use the jig saw to enlarge the hole, making it easier to work with the fish tape.

Drill the second hole where the wire will emerge from the wall.

Insert the end of the fish tape into the first hole and guide it slowly into the wall toward the second hole. It may be necessary to jiggle the tape to move it between the wall and joists or support beams behind the wall.

Grab the tip of the fish tape when it can be seen at the opening of the second hole, pulling the eye of the fish tape a few inches out of the hole.

Tie the end of the cable to be snaked through the wall to the eye in the fish tape.

Pull the fish tape back through the wall and out of the first hole, hauling the attached cable with it.

Cut the cable with wire cutters only after verifying the cable extends long enough through both holes in the wall to reach the connections on the back of the equipment.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Spooled cable
  • Fish tape
  • Electric drill with assorted bits
  • Jigsaw and blades
  • Pencil
  • Wire cutters

About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.