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Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.



 
 
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  #1  
Old April 9th 07, 06:14 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 9
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.

I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood lath
from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break out.
I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so at
least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the adjacent
stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a little, reaching
in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then carefully cutting the
wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work very well, and takes a long
time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all would
help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a wider
area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back and
forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that would
be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can saw
sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't found
anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work anyway
(which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they must
have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since they
don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new outlets,
etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.


Ads
  #2  
Old April 9th 07, 06:20 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 296
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.

roto zip tool or similar



On Apr 9, 1:14 pm, "BETAC-T" wrote:
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood lath
from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break out.
I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so at
least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the adjacent
stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a little, reaching
in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then carefully cutting the
wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work very well, and takes a long
time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all would
help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a wider
area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back and
forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that would
be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can saw
sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't found
anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work anyway
(which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they must
have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since they
don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new outlets,
etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.



  #3  
Old April 9th 07, 07:35 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 259
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.

On Apr 9, 12:14 pm, "BETAC-T" wrote:
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood lath
from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break out.
I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so at
least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the adjacent
stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a little, reaching
in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then carefully cutting the
wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work very well, and takes a long
time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all would
help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a wider
area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back and
forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that would
be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can saw
sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't found
anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work anyway
(which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they must
have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since they
don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new outlets,
etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.


I remember the first time I had a project that involved cutting into
the plaster walls. As I had a fairly large area to remove I thought a
circular saw was the way to go. I was really surprised when I touched
the saw to the plaster and it generated a rooster tail of sparks!
Didn't cut it very well either. That plaster is quite cement-like (at
least mine is). Since then I have used a sabre saw or a reciprocating
saw a few times, but as you say it is problematic in terms of
cracking, knocking the lath around, etc. It is also likely to break
off the "keys" that hold the plaster to the lath, leading to problems
later as the plaster gradually develops waves or bulges. Also, after
a few minutes the teeth on the saw blade are not just dull, they're
gone. You could try a rotozip. Bit life might be an issue if your
plaster is like mine.

When I need to cut the plaster now I use a a low-tech method: carbide
scribing tool (normally used for scoring cement board for tile
backing.) The scribing tool can be found in the tile section of a big-
box store for about $10. You just drag it along the line you want to
cut, a few passes will score all the way through the plaster. You
could probably then just pull out the piece of plaster you want to
remove and then cut the lath with a rotozip.

-- H

  #4  
Old April 9th 07, 08:20 PM posted to alt.home.repair
RBM
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,690
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.

If you are installing one or two boxes in wood lathe, you could carefully
chisel through the plaster, find the wood and essentially mark the box
centered over one piece of lathe, cut that piece out completely and half of
the pieces of lathe above and below that piece. Now the box fits in the hole
and can be screwed to the remaining half pieces of lathe above and below.
This is best done slowly and with a sharp key hole saw. yes, it's a PITA. If
you are doing a renovation, and need to cut in lots of boxes, I'd use a raco
type "LB" bracket bang on box, either gem or 1900, which bangs on the front
of a stud, which is a much stronger and permanent job, but will require some
plastering. Here is a link to Raco boxes, scroll down to find LB bracket
boxes: http://www.hubbellcatalog.com/raco/R...?FAM=RacoBoxes




"BETAC-T" wrote in message
. ..
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood
lath from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break
out. I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so
at least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the
adjacent stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a
little, reaching in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then
carefully cutting the wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work
very well, and takes a long time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all
would help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a
wider area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back
and forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that
would be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can
saw sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't
found anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work
anyway (which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they
must have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since
they don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new
outlets, etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.



  #5  
Old April 9th 07, 08:54 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,941
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.


"BETAC-T" wrote in message
. ..
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut

out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet

receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood

lath
from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break out.
I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so at
least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the

adjacent
stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a little,

reaching
in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then carefully cutting

the
wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work very well, and takes a

long
time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all

would
help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a wider
area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back

and
forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that would
be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can

saw
sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't found
anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work anyway
(which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they

must
have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since they
don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new outlets,
etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.


Cutting into wood lathe and plaster is never fun. I have always warned the
customer that there may be collateral damage. One thing that I do is put two
inch masking tape around the hole before I begin to cut to help keep the
plaster from breaking off on the surface. Unfortunately once you fully cut
the center lathe it is completely unsupported and leaves that portion of the
wall susceptible to future cracking.

I have thought of possibly cutting out a portion of the center and upper or
lower lathe. Then insert another vertical piece of lathe off to the side
and screwing through the wall to tie it into the upper, center, and lower
pieces of lathe. In theory this would keep the existing lathe stable. I
have never tried this though, but if you do please post back with your
results.

As someone else mentioned, I also score the plaster, but I have been using a
razor knife which dulls the blade quickly. The carbide scribing tool sounds
like a good idea instead.

You can try a Rotozip. I think that they make carbide bits for plaster.
The high speed bit may cut through with less vibration than the forth and
back motion of a hand saw.

For round holes for ceiling fixture boxes I have used a 4" carbide tipped
hole saw with very good results.

I have been fortunate lately in that many of my customers with wood lathe
and plaster have decided to remove it all. It makes it easier for plumbing,
electrical, heating/air conditioning, insulation, and to find and repair
structural problems.

Makita used to make a small diameter cordless circular saw and diamond
tipped blades to go with it. I haven't looked at their product line lately
to see if it is still available. I have one and used it on bigger holes for
bath fans and such. It does a nice job, but there is a tremendous amount of
dust as a result

  #6  
Old April 9th 07, 10:29 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 5,201
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.


"BETAC-T" wrote in message
. ..
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood
lath from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break
out. I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so
at least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the
adjacent stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a
little, reaching in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then
carefully cutting the wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work
very well, and takes a long time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all
would help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a
wider area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back
and forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that
would be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can
saw sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't
found anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work
anyway (which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they
must have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since
they don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new
outlets, etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.


I use a carbide bit in a roto-tool. I cut through the plaster, but not the
lath with it. Then pop the plaster out. I then cut the lath with a keyhole
saw, drilling starter holes as needed first.

Bob


  #7  
Old April 10th 07, 12:56 AM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 3
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.


BETAC-T wrote:
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood lath
from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break out.
I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so at
least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the adjacent
stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a little, reaching
in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then carefully cutting the
wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work very well, and takes a long
time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all would
help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a wider
area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back and
forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that would
be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can saw
sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't found
anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work anyway
(which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they must
have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since they
don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new outlets,
etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.


Looks like you've been getting some very good advice so far. If it
makes you feel any better, my wife is good at cutting holes in lath
and plaster for electric boxes. When I re-wire old houses that have
lath and plaster, all I have to do is mark where I want a box and she
goes at it. I go to the basement and run the circuits, drill holes in
the sill plate where the boxes are going to be and stuff the cable up
into the hole. By that time she's done cutting in the holes and all I
have to do is reach in and pull out the wire.

The moral to the story is that brute force does not apply when cutting
holes in lath and plaster. Easy does it. Use sharp tools. Let the
tool do the work. Buy a couple of saws if you have to, as plaster
will dull a saw blade quick.

The trick to cutting the lath, as others have mentioned, is to _remove
the plaster first_. The trick to removing the plaster is to _score_
it first. Once the lath is exposed one can usually reach in with a
pair of lineman's pliers and grab the middle lath to hold it still
while cutting the lath. Sometimes needlenose pliers work better, or
cut out some of the lath so the lineman's pliers will fit. Go easy
towards the end of the cut. Cut as far as you have to in the upper
and lower laths, on both sides, then just snap off the lath with the
lineman's pliers.

Again, easy does it, start out slow, speed will come with practice.

  #8  
Old April 10th 07, 02:58 AM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 695
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.

Forget the rotozip. The bit will last about a half inch. The best I've
done is with a saber saw and fine cutting metal blades. Figure on about one
blade per outlet hole. Drill a 1/2" hole at each corner, then cut between
the holes. Figure on a new paddle bit about every 15 holes. I just
finished completely rewiring a hundred year old two story, and have many
many smooth blades and worthless paddle bits to show. G Another option I
haven't tried is perhaps a dremel type tool with about a 2" diameter blade
on the end of it.

--
Steve Barker




"BETAC-T" wrote in message
. ..
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.

Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:

I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood
lath from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break
out. I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so
at least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the
adjacent stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a
little, reaching in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then
carefully cutting the wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work
very well, and takes a long time for each hole.

I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all
would help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a
wider area of plaster than using the by-hand method.

The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back
and forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that
would be small enough to do this.

I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can
saw sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't
found anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work
anyway (which is probably why they are only on TV).

So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they
must have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since
they don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new
outlets, etc.

Any ideas? Thanks.



  #9  
Old April 10th 07, 02:59 AM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 930
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.

On Apr 9, 4:56 pm, "volts500" wrote:
BETAC-T wrote:
I have an old house with wood lath and plaster walls, and I need to cut out
a lot holes in the walls for light switches, electrical outlet receptacles,
etc.


Here is what I am doing now, and here is what the problem is:


I am just cutting them out by hand, one-by-one, using hand-held wallboard
saws, etc. The problem is that it is hard to keep the underlying wood lath
from vibrating and causing a wider area of plaster to crack and break out.
I have tried making sure each hole is adjacent to one of the studs so at
least one side of the hole has wood lath that is nailed down to the adjacent
stud. And, I have tried being very careful, cutting out a little, reaching
in to hold the rest of the wood lath stable, and then carefully cutting the
wood lath. But it is still a mess, doesn't work very well, and takes a long
time for each hole.


I don't think using any kind of powered reciprocating saw or saws-all would
help and probably would only make the lath vibrate more and damage a wider
area of plaster than using the by-hand method.


The problem seems to be the reciprocating action of the saws, so I keep
thinking there ought to be some kind of small circular saw that could be
used and plunged into the wall to cut the lath without vibrating it back and
forth. But I don't have, and haven't seen, a circular-type saw that would
be small enough to do this.


I have thought about buying one of those drill bits that supposedly can saw
sideways to cut holes in walls (which I saw on TV), but I haven't found
anything like that in any stores and I have a hunch they don't work anyway
(which is probably why they are only on TV).


So what the heck do professional electricians do? I keep thinking they must
have a tool or know of a trick to make this easy, especially since they
don't want to damage their customers' walls when putting in new outlets,
etc.


Any ideas? Thanks.


Looks like you've been getting some very good advice so far. If it
makes you feel any better, my wife is good at cutting holes in lath
and plaster for electric boxes. When I re-wire old houses that have
lath and plaster, all I have to do is mark where I want a box and she
goes at it. I go to the basement and run the circuits, drill holes in
the sill plate where the boxes are going to be and stuff the cable up
into the hole. By that time she's done cutting in the holes and all I
have to do is reach in and pull out the wire.

The moral to the story is that brute force does not apply when cutting
holes in lath and plaster. Easy does it. Use sharp tools. Let the
tool do the work. Buy a couple of saws if you have to, as plaster
will dull a saw blade quick.

The trick to cutting the lath, as others have mentioned, is to _remove
the plaster first_. The trick to removing the plaster is to _score_
it first. Once the lath is exposed one can usually reach in with a
pair of lineman's pliers and grab the middle lath to hold it still
while cutting the lath. Sometimes needlenose pliers work better, or
cut out some of the lath so the lineman's pliers will fit. Go easy
towards the end of the cut. Cut as far as you have to in the upper
and lower laths, on both sides, then just snap off the lath with the
lineman's pliers.

Again, easy does it, start out slow, speed will come with practice.


BETAC-T

You've gotten good advice...esp "easy does it"

I have a 1930 house with wood lath & plaster...over the years I've
added electrical boxes.

Sawzall does not work.....too much damage.

A sharp keyhole saw or new Sawzall blade in their handle works as well
but you've got to be careful.

I finally settled on Dremel with diamond bit thru plaster.

Dremel with wood bit thru wood lath.

Rotating bit stresses the lath/plaster less than any other techhnique.

If the plaster is smooth (not a fancy texture, like about 1/2 my
house) after the plaster plug is removed I drill through & screw the
plaster to the wood lath.

Smooth plaster is easy to fix / match......the trick textures are a
pain.

I do one box at a time & only very occasionally.

If I were doing a large number of boxes at once I would setup a jig/
guide & screw or double back tape it to the wall

And "go to town" with two rotozips (once w/ plaster bit, one with wood
bit)

Instead of mounting a "tiger box", I glue (construction adhesive)
plywood blocks to the opposite the wall interior face & screw the box
to the blocks. Reinforces the opposite wall & doesn't stress the new
hole. I use deep boxes so I don't need much plywood.

When I'm finished, I "caulk" around the box with SIKA Sikadur
AnchorFix #1.

This stuff gels in 5 minutes, full cure in 1 hour....stronger than
concrete; bonds to plaster, wood & concrete. Fits in a standard
caulk gun

The final installation is rock solid.

cheers
Bob

  #10  
Old April 10th 07, 09:35 AM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 3
Default Cutting outlet holes in plaster/wood-lath walls.


volts500 wrote:

The trick to cutting the lath, as others have mentioned, is to _remove
the plaster first_. The trick to removing the plaster is to _score_
it first. Once the lath is exposed one can usually reach in with a
pair of lineman's pliers and grab the middle lath to hold it still
while cutting the lath. Sometimes needlenose pliers work better, or
cut out some of the lath so the lineman's pliers will fit. Go easy
towards the end of the cut. Cut as far as you have to in the upper
and lower laths, on both sides, then just snap off the lath with the
lineman's pliers.


I forgot to mention when making the first cut in the lath not to cut
it all
the way through....stop it short about 1/4". That way when you are
making the second cut the lath won't flap around. Once the second
cut is made all the way through you can then snap the lath out with
your pliers or use your saw to remove the final 1/4" of lath on the
first
cut. If you use old work boxes with snap brackets, the brackets will
secure the loose middle laths when you tighten it. Here's what they
look like:
http://www.usahardware.com/inet/shop...7/9331esc2.htm

 




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