Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page includes notes on pigtails.


Placement of junction boxes is important in wiring. Regulations insist that any time you have a splice between two wires that you have a junction box at that point and that you make the box accessible from a habitable space. This can be a difficult requirement depending on just what you consider to be habitable.

When you have installed all of your junction boxes, including those to contain outlets and switches, it is time to get out your favorite tool, THE DRILL, the one that uses the 480-volt power supply, the one that needs two extension cords.

I love drills. They have the same look, sound, and effect as a ray gun in a science fiction movie. They have that gun-like shape, the high-pitched whine, and best of all, the hole that is a product of this weapon of the handyman. Think of it: you can bore a hole through two inches of wood in a matter of seconds and with minimal effort! Warning: You should be careful to rein in your enthusiasm with the 480-volt power drill, or you can quickly turn your do-it-yourself project into a brick of Swiss cheese.

Use your drill to carefully make a path through your frame. Route the wiring from your distribution panel to the various junction boxes. Strip the insulation about six inches from the end of each wire, and strip the individual strands of about one inch of plastic coating. Then connect your outlets. Be sure to use the pigtail method. Pigtail? That's right. Does this mean instead of twisting the wires together with an independent wire to the receptacle you should braid them? If so, you would want to enlist the help of the local girl scout troop. To top off the pigtails put a little cap on each splice. The result is very cute.

In the cause of safety, you may wish to put some electrical tape on these splices. I have found that one roll of tape per junction box is about right. The general rule is: take up any free space with the black gobby tape so that the receptacle will fit snugly in the box.

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Fuse Box
Three Way Switch

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About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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