How to Make Straight and Angled Drywall Cuts

This story shows how to make the different types of cuts in drywall that may be necessary in your project.

Cutting Drywall

Cutting drywall is surprisingly easy if you follow a few simple rules and develop consistent techniques.

First, make sure you have a sharp blade in your utility knife. A sharp edge will slice the face paper cleanly and score the panel deeply enough for a clean break.

A dull blade will snag the paper, and as you push harder to try to make it cut you multiply the chances that the blade will slip and cut you. That's why a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.

Second, make sure you keep your fingers well out of the knife's path in case it does slip. Position your free hand to the side of the line.

Third, make sure the straightedge is actually straight by sighting down its length. Check your drywall square by drawing a line across a drywall panel, using one factory edge as a reference. Switch the square to the opposite factory edge, and make sure that the blade aligns with the pencil line. If you can't adjust the square, buy a replacement.

Checklist

Time
Allow approximately five minutes per marking and cutting

Tools
Utility knife and blades, tape measure, T-square, pencil, jab saw (or drywall router)

Skills
Measuring and marking, using a utility knife

Materials
Drywall panels

Step 1

Mark the piece about 1/4 inch smaller than the space it needs to fit. Use a utility knife to cut through the outside face of the drywall and into the gypsum. Make a second pass to deepen the cut; you do not need to cut through the sheet.

Step 2

To complete the cut, bump the back of the sheet at the line with your knee as you hold the sheet. This will snap the gypsum so you can fold back the sheet. Slice the back paper along the fold line with a utility knife.

Fitting Angled Pieces: Step 1

Rather than measuring the angle at which a piece must be cut, measure the length of the horizontal run and the vertical rise.

Fitting Angled Pieces: Step 2

Transfer the measurements to the drywall, then draw a line between the two marks. Cut and snap the piece along the line.

Fitting Drywall Around a Window or Doorway

Run the drywall right over door or window openings, and cut it after you've fastened the panel. Use a coarse-tooth saw to cut along the studs at both sides of a door opening, then score and snap the horizontal line.

With windows, you'll usually have to use a jab saw to cut the entire perimeter. Simply cut along the studs until you reach the header, then make the horizontal cut. A drywall router speeds through the cuts needed at both doors and windows.

Although you might be tempted to create a seam above these openings, you'll get better results if you cover the opening with a single span of material. An unbroken expanse of drywall can better resist the stresses that often occur at the corners of openings.

Scribing Drywall to Fit

To cut a piece of drywall to fit against an irregular surface, hold the piece near the surface and trace the outline onto the sheet with a scribing tool.


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