Drywall Measuring & Cutting

measuring and marking drywall

In some ways, the process of cutting drywall defies logic. After all, you learned in the old game that scissors can cut paper but rock breaks scissors. So the idea that a blade can cut the rock of a drywall panel is mildly amazing.

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Making inside cuts
The core of drywall is made from gypsum, a mineral that's mined from the earth. But gypsum is a relatively soft material, and it needs a paper backing and face to retain its shape. By slicing through the face paper and scoring partway into the gypsum core, you create a fault line. When you apply pressure along the back, the panel snaps. Cutting the back paper completes the cut.

The score-and-snap technique works great for straight cuts, whether along the panel's length, width, or diagonally. But you need a different approach to make an inside cut. The manual method employs the jab saw. With a little practice, you'll become proficient.

A jab saw will cut an opening quickly, but not fast enough to suit a professional drywaller who is always in a race against the clock to make a profit. That's why many pros use a drywall router. After a practice session, you'll be able to cut openings for electrical boxes with accuracy and speed. You probably wouldn't win a race with a professional, but you'll get pro-quality results.

Going around in circles
A jab saw will do an effective job of cutting circular openings for pipes and ceiling canisters. But if you're faced with the task of cutting a bunch of holes for ceiling canisters, choose from one of several tools that will speed your task. A manual circle cutter looks like an overgrown beam compass, and will quickly score the drywall. Another choice is a hole saw.


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