Drywall, also known as plasterboard, wallboard, or sheetrock, is a flat panel made of a gypsum core surrounded by two sheets of thick paper. The plaster is usually mixed with other additives that can reduce mildew, flammability, and water absorption.
This lightweight material is typically used in the construction of interior walls and ceilings, so sometimes you might need to cut a drywall sheet to fit a wall or a certain item.
Depending on your project, there are three techniques you can use to cut drywall. You can use a utility knife to reduce the size of a large drywall sheet by measuring and marking the area to cut, scoring the line on both sides, and bumping the drywall with your knee.
To cut drywall for an electrical outlet, you can use a Dremel tool or a keyhole saw, and for larger items like doors and windows, a drywall saw is the best option. Whichever tool you choose, you have to take precise measurements, mark an outline for the cut, and make the cut.
Read on if you want to know more details and pro tips on how to cut drywall!
Cutting drywall will produce a lot of dust and debris that can be incredibly harmful, so you need to wear safety goggles and a face mask to protect your eyes and lungs.
If you’re using a Dremel tool, you’re going to need heavy-duty gloves because the bits rotate at a high speed and can cause injuries. You’ll also want to wear safety ear muffs because it can get very noisy.
This method is ideal to reduce the size of a drywall sheet when you need it to fit a gap in your wall or when they’re too tall for the room. If you have a utility knife with extra blades, and a drywall square or T-square (a large metal ruler that ends with a T on one of the sides) you can cut drywall in just a few minutes. Just make sure to use a new, sharp blade because a dull one can tear the paper on your drywall
Before we begin, you’ll need to measure the gap in your wall and mark in pencil the place where you need to make the cut on your drywall. Once that’s ready, this is what you should do:
- Lean the sheet of drywall up against a wall at a 45° angle.
- Hold the drywall square or T-square against the pencil marks on your drywall, and square the “T” end with the left side of the drywall. Make sure the edge is properly aligned just where you need to cut.
- Score a line as far as you can with your utility knife. Run the knife slowly so it doesn’t slip.
- Lift the knife and square up on the right side.
- Finish the score.
- Turn your drywall sheet over and repeat the process to score the other side. If you skip this step, the drywall will break off in uneven chunks, adding extra work to your project.
- Locate the approximate scoring area and give it a quick, sharp bump with your knee.
- Smooth the edge of your drywall sheet with a rasp.
And that’s it! With practice, the whole process won’t take more than 5 minutes before you can have your drywall ready to hang.
How to Cut Drywall for an Electrical Outlet
If you need to cut a hole for windows, doors, outlets, or light fixtures there are two techniques you can use: cutting with a Dremel or with a keyhole saw.
- Tape measure
- Drywall square or T-square
- Dremel with a drywall cutting bit
- Guide plate
- Keyhole saw (for small holes) or drywall saw (for larger holes)
- Utility knife
Dremels are small, versatile tools that can be used for grinding, sanding, and even sharpening an axe. While this is not the quickest or most efficient way to cut drywall, a Dremel equipped with a drywall cutting bit can be an excellent choice for precision cuts.
To cut drywall for an electrical outlet with a Dremel you should do the following:
- Measure the distance from the top of the bare wall to the top corners of the outlet you’re making a hole for.
- Then, measure the distance from the top corners of the outlet to its bottom ones.
- Write these measurements down.
- Mark the corners on the drywall sheet with a pencil, and using a drywall square or a T-square, connect the corner marks to create the outline for your cut.
- Equip your dremel with a drywall cutting bit. We recommend adjusting the length of the bit so that it extends ¾-inch to 1 inch beyond the guide plate so that it cuts through the drywall without damaging the wires or electrical box.
- Lean the sheet of drywall up against a wall at a 45° angle and plunge the drywall bit into one of the top corner marks you previously drew.
- Slowly follow the outline downward while applying even pressure to make a straight cut.
- Repeat with the remaining top corner. You’ll now have two vertical cuts for the sides of the electrical outlet.
- Finish the cut following the top and bottom horizontal marks and complete the edge.
- With a hammer, gently tap the drywall piece in the middle of the hole you’ve made to remove it.
If you need to cut a circular hole, you should take the measurements from the edge of the drywall to the center of the circular item you’re cutting a hole for. You can use a compass tool to outline the cut on the drywall sheet.
Working with a Dremel might seem easy, but it actually requires a lot of patience and care to avoid damaging the drywall sheet. Once the cut is done and before securing the drywall, you have to make sure that the electrical outlet fits perfectly into the hole. The drywall should sit flush, without the outlet interfering with any of the sheet’s edges.
How to Cut Drywall with a Keyhole or Drywall Saw
The type of saw you’ll need for this drywall cutting method will depend on the size of the item you need to fit into the hole. You should use a keyhole saw for smaller pieces like an electrical outlet or light fixture, whereas a drywall saw is better for larger holes to fit around windows or doors.
The first 3 steps are the same ones as if you were cutting with a Dremel tool, but we’re going to repeat them once more just in case:
- Measure the distance from the top edge of the bare wall to the top corners of the item you want to fit.
- Then, measure the distance from the top corners of the item to its bottom ones.
- Mark the corners on the drywall sheet with a pencil, and using a drywall square or a T-square as your guide, connect the corner marks to create the outline for your cut.
- Make a small entry cut with a utility knife into one of the sides of the outline.
- Insert the keyhole or the drywall saw and gently move it back and forth until you reach the end of the marked line.
- Repeat the last two steps for all the sides of the hole.
- Gently tap the drywall piece with a hammer in the middle of the piece you wish to remove.
Again, you need to make sure that the item fits perfectly into the hole before you can secure the drywall sheet.
Home improvement projects can require cutting some drywall, in which case you need to be prepared so that you can do it confidently and with care to avoid damaging this fragile material.
In this piece, we’ve given you detailed instructions on how to cut drywall for different purposes, along with the tools and supplies you’re going to need.
All that’s left is for you to get familiar with them to achieve professional results!