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Tools and Materials for Hanging Drywall Part One

By HHr Staff ~ Colbyt

This article will serve as an introduction to hanging drywall. Hanging drywall is very physical labor. Hanging it on a ceiling without using jacks or dead-man is brutal physical labor for one or two people. A single 4x8 sheet of 1/2" drywall only weighs 63 pounds but the mass weight ratio is way out of balance.

Drywall is sold in several different lengths. At a drywall supply company half inch thick drywall can be purchased in 8, 10, 12, and 14 foot lengths. Even at the BORG you usually have a choice between 8 and 12. Eight foot is most commonly sold for home improvement projects because of the lighter weight and ease of moving it about in an existing structure.

The longer lengths can reduce or eliminate the butt joints in most residential applications. The edges of the butt joints are not tapered and require more skill to properly finish. The fewer of them you have the less finishing work you will need.

The tools:

Hammer with a rounded head.
Dedicated hammers are sold with the properly rounded head and a small hatchet instead of a claw. One does not really need to spend the $25 or so that a well made one will cost. Any 16-20 ounce hammer with a rounded head will work fine. The rounded head is important because it forms the dimple in the paper surface. Sharp edges will cut the paper, make finishing more difficult and greatly reduce the holding power.

All metal utility knife and blades.
The process of scoring and trimming drywall put a lot of stress on the knife blade and body. This is not a place where you want a cheap plastic knife. Buy an all metal body knife. This is one of the few places where I slightly prefer a fixed position blade and leather holster. A retractable blade will work well also and eliminates the need for the holster.

Drywall saw or RotoZip (optional).
You will need to cut out for the electrical boxes. The faster preferred method is to use a RotoZip or drywall router. A Dremel rotary tool with the proper bit can also do the job if you only need to cut a few boxes. For small jobs a $5 keyhole saw can work almost as well. It just takes longer and is slightly harder to hang and finish.

Drywall T-square or 4' level.
A specially made 4' T-square will greatly speed up the process of making the four foot cuts. It is not an absolute requirement. A 4' level or metal straight edge may be used instead. Just a little slower and requires marking the board at the top and the bottom. This method is actually preferred in older or out of plumb/square construction.

Chalk line.
A chalk line will greatly speed up the process of marking the longer cuts that may be needed. A straight board that is equal to the length of the drywall will work equally well if somewhat slower.

Straight edge.
A metal straight edge will help you score clean straight lines. A straight board can be an effective substitute.

Variable speed corded or cordless drill.
A corded drill is better for this job because of the raw power needed to drive a lot of screws in a short period of time. That does not stop me from using my 9.6 volt Makita to do the job. I prefer the balance, lack of cord, and the mobility that the cordless tool offers. I also have several batteries that I can keep charging. The batteries usually last longer than my back does.

If you have a whole house full of this stuff to hang or you are just a tool fanatic, you should consider a dedicated screw gun with an auto feed feature.

This article continues in Part Two



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