Finishing Tools

Installing and finishing drywall and repairing plaster require a specialized set of tools. For laying out and guiding the cuts on a sheet of drywall, nothing beats a drywall square. After laying out the cut lines, cut with a utility knife. For interior cutouts, such as those around electrical boxes, use a jab saw to plunge through the drywall and saw out the scrap piece. For slight trimming, such as when you want to plane an edge flush at a corner, use a Surform plane.

Once the drywall is installed, the finishing process begins with spreading joint compound over the fasteners and taping and spreading compound across the joints between the drywall sheets. The tools used for spreading the compound are called taping or drywall knives. These come in a variety of widths. For most purposes a 6-inch, a 10-inch, and a 12-inch will handle the task. Along with the knives, get a mud pan to hold a supply of joint compound (often called mud).

The final stage of finishing drywall consists of smoothing the dried compound. The traditional method involves sanding with sandpaper, which is fine for small jobs. For larger expanses of drywall, invest in sanding screens and a holder to mount them on. Some holder models have a dust pickup that attaches to the hose of a shop vacuum. Be sure to replace the filter in your vacuum with one designed to handle drywall dust. For an almost dust-free environment, smooth the walls with a wet drywall sponge, which has a tough abrasive plastic layer laminated on one side.

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