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Tips and Tricks for Accurately Cutting Drywall (page 2 of 3)

Learn the pro tips for properly cutting and fitting drywall.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Measuring Tips

Circular Light Fixtures
Measure from the center of the fitting to the sides of where the drywall sheet will be attached, then transfer the measurements to a sheet of drywall. Take this mark as the center point of the hole. Use a circular hole cutter to score the hole’s outline several times, so that you may then tap it out with a hammer.

Lights Switches and Outlets
Cutting square holes takes careful measuring and marking. Measure from the side edge of where the sheet will go to the right and left sides of the box. Then measure from the top and bottom edges to the top and bottom of the box. Transfer these marks to the sheet of drywall and cut it with a saw.

Preparing to Cut Drywall

While many DIYers find that cutting the drywall is the most straightforward part of the job, it can easily turn difficult if you do not use the right tools or if your tools are not in good condition.

It is important that you always use a sharp blade when cutting drywall. A blunt blade can tear the paper face, leaving a more difficult seam to finish later.

Always score the panels before attempting to cut through them. The best way to cut a piece of drywall is to use the "score-and-snap" method shown opposite. Score along one face of the sheet and then snap it back. If there is damage done to the back of the drywall, it will not be noticed on your finished wall. Always snap the panel away from the score cut.

Cutting Tools

Cutting drywall openings can be straightforward with the right cutting tools. In addition to your basic utility knife and tape measure, you will need some of the following special tools for cutting sheets of drywall.

To make square cuts, use a T-square or framing square. Set the sheet upright with the smooth side out. Set the T-square on the top edge and line it up with your measurement. Run a utility knife along the side of the “T” to score the cut.

Drywall saw
When making cuts around obstacles you should use a drywall saw. Be careful to not damage the paper face with an aggressive motion.

When cutting drywall to size, it is best to aim to cut larger rather than smaller. Use a rasp to shave off excess material. Never force into place a piece of drywall that is too big.

Keyhole saw
Keyhole saws are perfect for cutting around electrical boxes. Insert the tip through the drywall and cut along each side of the box.

Circle cutter
For round cuts, use a circle cutter to get a perfect cut. A compass can also help make a good score line, if you do not have a circle cutter.

These power tools are used to cut holes for boxes and fixtures much faster and easier than cutting out by hand. However, they can create more dust than other methods.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009