I'd like to put a media server in my bedroom closet. The problem is that there is no power, cable, or ethernet in the closet. I could run wires along the baseboard, but that is ugly. I could pay an electrician, but that is expensive. The idea I have is to drill a large hole through two pieces of wallboard and run the wires through that. This would be behind furniture and not visible from the bedroom.
The simplest thing I can think of to do this cleanly is a plastic conduit that has removable caps on both ends for when it is not in use, and 'flanges' on both sides to cover the rough cut of the wallboard. Looking at it in profile, it would look like this:
_ _ wall | | wall wall _| |_ wall
In this diagram, the wires would run between the |'s. The _'s are the flanges.
Why not use the built in type vacuum cleaner outlets?? They not only have a "cap", but a spring loaded cover. They sit flush and look relatively attractive. You'll just have to explain to the wife that she can't plug in the vacuum hose there and expect anything to happen. :-)
they sell small round plastic wire devices for running wire through your desk top at the home box type stores. You drill a 3 or 4" hole and slip the sleeve into it and then there is a cover that snaps into the sleeve. They come in different colors and the cover has a slot in it for the wires to come trhough neatly. These would be ideal and I have seen them used in the fashion you describe.
Something that is a little larger than what you are looking for but would still work are plumbing access panels. If you go to homedepot.com and enter Access Able in the search box you should get 4 results with access panels between 6"x9" and 14"x29". To install these simply cut a hole in the drywall and glue the frame to the drywall with RTV. I usually cut a radiused hole on one corner for the final wire bundle to exit the removable panel.
In my den where the big TV resides I mounted all the jacks inside the wall cavity by attaching Panduit surface mount boxes with bottom exit jacks to the drywall with RTV. The finished result looks good since there a neat 1.25" diameter bundle of wires exiting the lower right corner of the panel instead of a zillion connectors on the wall. In this case I couldn't put the jacks behind the TV since the wall back there is solid masonry.
When the panel is no longer needed just replace the cut panel with a new one or cut the entire frame out of the drywall and patch the hole with a piece of drywall.
I'm guessing from your vocabulary that you're in the US. I'm in the UK and would do something quite different, and I don't know whether anything similar would be possible over there. But it might be.
Here you can get blanking plates the same size as power outlets, and it's possible to simply screw them to the wall, with a very neat and inconspicuous appearance.
I'd make my rough square hole in the wall and screw one of these blanking plates over each side to cover it. Then, to fit the cables, I'd remove the plates, run the cables through the wall, file grooves in the narrow bottom edge of the blanking plates for each of the three cables, and screw the plates back in place. The result is neat and airtight, and the cables would lie flat against the wall.
____________________ | O O O | wall | | | wall wall | | | wall |_____O___O___O______|
It looks like a big nose and is also available is a double gang size for even more wires. If all you're doing is going straight through the wall to the other side you could use one on each side and you won't need any conduit between them if it's just low voltage stuff. I've found these for sale at several places and they do the job nicely. Get a couple of "old work" mounting rings, cut out the drywall with a utility knife and you'll have a neat installation. You could just cut a hole in the drywall and screw the plates to the wall with drywall screws or anchors but the rings are the best way as they give you the largest opening and you can stick your hand in the wall.
Home Depot and most electrical supply stores sell plastic devices in the shape of an electrical gang box but without a back. You cut a hole in the sheetrock, following the outline of a template that is supplied with the device and slip the device into the hole. There are swing-out flanges that lock the "box" to the sheetrock.
The finished product looks like a single-gang (double- and triple-gang are also available) outlet with an open back. You could legally (code-compliant) run low voltage wires through these devices and simply connect them to your equipment on either side.
High voltage electrical connections through walls are another matter. Because of the risk of shock and fire you should consider installing a proper circuit in the wall where needed. This doesn't have to create a mess. If there's a basement or attic directly below or above the target area it's usually a simple matter to add an outlet. From the attic above you simply locate the top of the wall (looks like a 2x4 laid flat above the ceiling sheetrock), measure from the nearest ceiling lamp, light switch or other point of reference and punch a hole through using a 3/4" spade bit.
Drop a length of Romex into the wall sufficient to reach the new outlet, leaving enough extra in the attic to connect the end to a convenient source of 110VAC. Make sure the source has a hot, neutral and ground and that it isn't controlled by a switch somewhere. The rest should be obvious. If you're unfamiliar with basic electrical safety, find a knowledgeable friend or pay a pro to make the connections for you. It shouldn't cost much and it beats having an "electrifying experience". :^)
Running new wires up from an unfinished basement isn't usually difficult either. Cut a hole in the wall where the outlet will go, if the home is recent construction reach in with a 3/4" paddle bit connected to a 14" bit extension and drill down into the basement. Push the wire up and have your SO pull it out of the hole in the wall.
On numerous occasions I've needed to run new wires from the basement to an attic two or more floors above. Sometimes you luck out and there are closets one above the other. It's relatively easy to run conduit along the inside of the closet, off to one side of the door. Other times you need to get creative with an electrician's snake.
I've posted numerous articles over the years in this and another newsgroup on the subject of running cables for alarms, entertainment systems, etc. A groups.Google.com search will unearth a few threads which you may find helpful. If you want to share specifics on the layout of your home, especially the area where the project will be done, I'd be happy to give you some suggestions.
Which, for AC power, would violate code. Do it right, put in the correct type of outlet. Either as a leg off a nearby outlet that's KNOWN to have enough amperage to support being extended, or just pull a new leg from the breaker panel.
Then treat the media wiring the same way, just use wall plates designed for the purpose.
Think of it this way, if contractors do it everyday, how hard can it be? If you do it wrong and burn down your house, well, don't expect much sympathy from the insurance company.
I didn't bother with the caps, my conduit is always in use.
For the flange, I took a two-gang blank cover and used a (cheap harbor-freight) holesaw to cut the proper size hole to fit snugly around the conduit. (The more expensive nylon cover plates are easier as they are less brittle.) I sized the length of the conduit to protrude slightly (3/16" or so) beyond the cover. I rounded the edges of the conduit and used caulk to seal the conduit to the drywall (hidden behind the cover). I used normal 2" PVC electrical conduit (grey) but you might prefer PVC (white) or CPVC (off white) or ABS (black) or some other variety of pipe. For a chase that short I think material does not matter significantly.
Oh, mine is an outside air inlet for a pellet stove. The outside protrudes several inches and is cut at a severe angle (to increase the size of the opening) and screened to block insects, etc.