Seven Essential Drywall Tools to Sheetrock Like a Rock Star

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Drywall, for me, they should have called it hell-wall. Drywall is super messy, challenging to maneuver in place and as awkward as a nerd’s first date to install. Throw in the fact that finishing it with joint compound is as difficult as spreading peanut butter onto a piece of bread with a 4’ long fan blade, and you can see how this home improvement task often overwhelms even the most experienced of DIY professionals. But it’s certainly not rocket science and with the right tools, knowledge and manpower, anyone can install and finish their own drywall. Use these seven essential drywall tools for hanging / finishing and while we can’t guarantee you’ll get perfectly finished drywall every time, you’ll at least be pointed in the right direction!


If you’re not up for the pro’s freehand scoring, a 48″ drywall square like this one from Johnson Level is invaluable

Remember that old song It’s Hip to be Square? It’s true, especially when you’re hanging drywall. Gaps between drywall boards might not seem like a big deal now; but wait until you have to finish it. It’s going to take a lot more time, material and manpower to finish drywall boards that have excessive gaps between cuts. Using a 48″ long metal T-square is the only way to accurately and economically cut drywall sheets. For a pro tip, be sure you keep a fresh razor blade in your utility knife to prevent damage to the sensitive paper finish on your drywall sheets.

Drywall Lift

A lift like this Pentagon Drywall Lift doesn’t have to break the bank to prevent breaking your back, they start at around $150 on Amazon

You think you’re tough huh? Try holding a 12’ sheet of drywall on the ceiling with one hand and screwing the sheet with the other hand. It’s insanely hard, but professional sheetrock installers do it every day. Unless your forearms are like Popeye’s, save your back and rent/buy a drywall lift. These crank-up lifts can install 12’ sheets on ceilings and walls with ease and can make maneuvering them to fit tightly together a snap. Check out our buddy Patrick over at Fine Homebuilding wielding a modified drywall lift on his barn project. This isn’t an essential tool on small projects with multiple helpers, but if you’re working solo or working a large job, believe me, it’s essential.

Adjustable Depth Screw Gun

Adjustable Depth Screw Gun
My DeWalt Adjustable Depth Screw Gun for Drywall

Holding all that weight suspended from the ceiling takes a hella-bunch of screws. Most building codes require a 6-8” screw pattern on the seams and in the field (check your local codes!) But even with all of those screws in place, if they penetrate through the finished paper too far, they’ll be useless and the sheet will eventually peel away from the wall or ceiling. Use an adjustable depth screw gun to quickly and correctly hang your drywall.

Paddle Bit

Now that you’ve hung the drywall, the hard work is just beginning. Drywall finishers use a metal mud pan to hold a workable amount of joint compound to apply to the seams and screw holes to achieve a smooth finish. But when joint compound comes directly from the bucket, it tends to be thick and tough to work with. By mixing a small amount of water directly into the bucket, a more workable joint compound is created. Use a paddle bit for drywall mud hooked up to a ½” drill to mix mud to a workable state.

Assorted Finishing Tools

Keeping each successive layer of joint compound as smooth as possible takes the right tools. A metal mud pan stores the joint compound while a drywall knife is used to spread the materials onto the seams and nail holes. Use a small, medium and wide blade drywall knife to help ensure each successive coat of mud is as smooth as possible. Corner or butterfly drywall blades work great for inside corners. A taping gun or “bazooka” is used when you need lots of seams taped as quickly as possible, all though they can get really messy, really quick. Use fine grit mesh drywall sandpaper and never use wood sanding paper on a drywall finish. Remember, the smoother you put each coat on, the less sanding you’ll have to do in the long run.

Drywall Hammer and Drywall Rasp
A Drywall Hammer and Rasp are Also Nice to Have Too

Spray Texture Hopper

Not many drywall final finishes are totally smooth. Most finished drywall has a fine coat of textured joint compound applied to its finished surface. A spray hopper gun can easily keep your hand finishing down to three coats or less depending upon how heavy a texture you use. Use the paddle bit to mix a bucket of joint compound to a pancake batter-like consistency before pouring it into the hopper and you’ll be on your way to getting a perfect textured finish.

Any essential drywall tools we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Eric

Since Eric built his first skateboard ramp in his parents driveway; he’s breathed, slept and eaten DIY construction. As a second generation master carpenter who runs two Florida-based construction firms, Eric’s had the chance to work on everything from Mcmansions to your local mall to the cat lady’s bathroom. So when it comes to dealing with construction s@#t; he’s the man—literally. There isn’t a tool or construction material that Eric hasn’t used and abused, and if there is; it’s rocking in a dark corner nervously waiting for him to show up for work.

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8 thoughts on “Seven Essential Drywall Tools to Sheetrock Like a Rock Star”

  1. We work with these tools on a daily basis. A drywall lift making hanging rock so much easier! When I first started out I didn’t use one and I quickly realized how much harder is with only manpower.

  2. It doesn’t need to be a pleasant one, however it’s super useful to hurl a divider sheet up for a decent joint at the roof. A scratch and a drywall saw are outright unquestionable requirements. While I possess a genuine screwgun, it just assembles dust since I’ll generally go after my consistent effect driver. Furthermore, I can’t differ much with a drywall lift for solo employments in totally open rooms, however I’ll bring my movable bolster sticks and have a second individual to set sheets on the roof. To wrap things up, I propose conveying both fiber and paper tape to the occupation.

  3. Why not to throw out scrap wood. I had been remodeling a bedroom in my girl friend’s house at the time and realized that I had no drywall hawk for the spackle (I also didn’t have enough cash). I had gone into the basement and found a piece of scrap 3/4 plywood, an 1 /12 in, wood dowel from a closet and 2 sheet rock screw’s. I cut the plywood to 12×14 in. then drilled 2 holes and the cut the dowel to 10 in. length, then screwed the dowel and counter sunk the screw’s. My scrap wood hawk worked well for the entire time and then some.SO DON’T THROW OUT YOUR SCRAP WOOD. You never know when it will come in handy

  4. Sorry, I worked drywall for many years and don’t know what a speed square is. Guess I’m too old to try it now. I agree with Arnold about the drywall lift, it might be handy if the floor is smooth and clean but this is rarely the case when hanging drywall. I would add a sharpening stone and a hook bill knife to the collection. A hook bill knife works great for shaving a small amount off the edge of a sheet. There are two types of drywall saws, keyhole and a 15-inch, they are both handy.

  5. Get a kicker… It doesn’t have to be a nice one, but it’s super helpful to heave a wall sheet up for a nice joint at the ceiling. A rasp and a drywall saw are absolute must-haves. While I own a real screwgun, it just gathers dust because I’ll always reach for my regular impact driver. And I can’t disagree much with a drywall lift for solo jobs in wide open rooms, but I’ll bring my adjustable support sticks and have a second person to set sheets on the ceiling. Last but not least, I suggest bringing both fiber and paper tape to the job. The tapers I’ve worked with love their paper tape, but you might find mesh easier to work with.

  6. A speed square is one of the easiest methods of removing a “little bit” – 6″. which is a pretty common task. Especially if you can stab your knife in a notch.


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