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Old 07-14-2012, 11:44 AM   #1
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Am I drilling into plaster and lathe?


All I wanted to do was hang some curtains. I've got a cheap mounting kit from Target, with screws and plastic anchors and I started drilling a 3/16" hole in the wall. I got about half an inch in with no problem and then I hit something hard. It doesn't feel like metal, but then I have limited experience with these sorts of things. I'm drilling close to the window, so I assume I may have hit wood of some kind. The drill bit got stuck at first and I had to switch it to drill in reverse to get it out. I'm just using a basic black and decker drill/driver set that claims to be multipurpose for wood/metal/plastic.

I'm hesitant to push harder and keep drilling because I have no idea what I'm dealing with. There are no electrical plugs on this wall, but there is a baseboard heating unit beneath the window. I think I'm working with plaster and lathe walls, since it's a very old triple-decker home outside of Boston, built around 1900. Here's what a crawl space on my floor looks like; the wall I'm drilling into is the one on the far end. The walls are uneven in places, like they were plastered over something. I understand that it can be quite difficult to locate studs in plaster walls, but I've hit something that won't give easily, and now I'm stumped as to how to proceed.

A tenant at some point previously had screwed a mounting bracket into the wood frame moulding of the window (visible in the first link), which made me want to pull my hair out because it's the only nice window frame in the whole apartment. I was tempted to just use that, but the whole setup looks incredibly flimsy - they only secured it with one screw, and even the rod itself looks pretty fragile.

Also, to cover up these holes, can I just use spackle?

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Old 07-14-2012, 11:54 AM   #2
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Am I drilling into plaster and lathe?


Yes plaster/lathe and very possibly you're hitting a nail.
The bit's sold with homeowner grade tools are crap

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Old 07-14-2012, 09:25 PM   #3
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Am I drilling into plaster and lathe?


You may just be hitting the header for the window. Some of the old lumber dries to be hard as rocks. If you are into wood, you will not need the screw anchors, just a longer screw.

In addition to the bits in kits being crap, the fasteners usually are too. You are better off going to a real hardware store that still has things in bins and buying nice screws.

You may need a masonry bit if you are trying to get nice round holes in plaster.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:01 PM   #4
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Am I drilling into plaster and lathe?


I second that.

It is quite possible that you are hitting a knot in the header or a nail in the header/framing.

My thought is to go around it. Widen the install points of the hangers to see if that will solve your problem.

With older homes, often in time, it's not worth knowing what "it" is... just go around it, if you can..



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