How to Cut Drywall

How to Cut Drywall

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If you are doing some interior work, whether for walls or ceilings, chances are that you will be cutting some drywall. Drywall is definitely not the hardest material to cut, but you do need to have the right tool.

Now, there are many different tools that you can use to cut drywall, and which one you use really depends on your specific situation. Certain tools are best for certain tasks. Today, we want to talk about exactly that.

9 Tools You Can Use to Cut Drywall

Right now, we want to go through a list of all of the different tools that you can use to cut drywall.

1. Utility Knife

Utility Knife One of the most common and effective ways to cut drywall is by using a utility knife, otherwise known as a razor knife. If you need to cut long and straight lines into drywall, or you just need to cut drywall in half, then this is perhaps the best tool to use.
Using a utility knife, you just have to score a straight line into the drywall, but not actually cut all the way through it. Once you have scored a line into the drywall, you then just use a bit of pressure to snap it in half.

This is one of the easiest ways to cut drywall, as well as one of the most cost-effective, as you don’t need any expensive power tools. That being said, you do want to go for a more expensive utility knife, as the cheaper ones come with blades that just aren’t sharp enough for this task. If you are planning on cutting drywall, having a utility knife on hand is always recommended.

In the next section of this article, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to use this method.

2. Drywall Saw

Drywall Saw Another great tool to use for cutting drywall is known as the drywall saw, otherwise known as a keyhole saw, a jab saw, or a compass saw. This is a manual tool, not a power tool, which means that you will have to use those biceps.

With that being said, this is one of the best tools to use if you just need to perform a small job, such as cutting a small hole into drywall. In fact, if you are cutting holes into drywall that has already been hung on a wall, this is one of the easiest tools to use, particularly due to its small size and lightweight. For those that don’t know, a drywall saw more or less looks like a very thin, sharp, and pointed steak knife complete with very fine serrations.

Although this tool is not ideal for cutting very long and straight lines, or for big jobs in general, it does work really well for small jobs. If you want to use a handheld tool with plenty of control, then a drywall saw is ideal. It also moves slowly and allows for great feeling capabilities, so if you hit a stud or wires, you’ll be able to feel it in the handle of the saw.

3. Oscillating Tool

Oscillating Tool The next tool that you can use for cutting drywall, the first power tool on our list today, is the oscillating tool, otherwise known as the oscillating multi-tool. If you have a lot of drywall that needs to be cut, then a manual tool such as a drywall saw or a utility knife just won’t be fast enough.

Something like an oscillating tool, that is affixed with the proper drywall cutting blade, will be able to make very quick work out of any piece of drywall. The cool thing about oscillating tools is that they are still fairly small and lightweight, therefore making them easy to use single-handed, and are also very portable.

Moreover, what you might like about using an oscillating tool to cut drywall is that it can be used to cut long and straight lines, but is also rather ideal for cutting irregular shapes and curves.

If you have a very large volume of tiny cuts that need to be made, especially things like plunge cuts, then an oscillating tool is ideal. Just make sure that you get a battery-powered oscillating tool, so you don’t have to deal with pesky power cords.

For more details about this method, read my article about how to cut drywall with an oscillating tool.

4. Dremel

Dremel The Dremel is another tool that is ideal for cutting drywall. Dremels can take many different attachments, and this does include a special drywall attachment. Dremels have circular bits that spin at very high speeds. Dremels are also very small and lightweight, therefore making them very portable and easy to use with a single hand.

Now, do keep in mind that due to the nature of the bit, Dremels are best used for making irregular cuts and curves. Moreover, they are hard to use when trying to cut long and straight lines. Therefore, Dremels are ideal for many small cuts, but not for long and repeated ones.

For more details about this method, read my article about how to cut drywall with a Dremel.

5. Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw Another tool that can be used to effectively cut drywall is a reciprocating saw. A reciprocating saw works really well if you need to make plunge cuts into drywall, although it is a bit overpowered.

Moreover, a reciprocating saw is also ideal for demolition work, or in other words, for cutting apart, breaking down, and ripping out old drywall.

It’s definitely not the best tool to use if you need very clean cuts, but it will make extremely quick work out of any drywall, not to mention out of most other building materials too. Just be sure not to use this tool if you need to make very clean cuts because it just can’t do that.

6. Spiral Saw

Spiral Saw If you need to make some plunge cuts into drywall, especially for things like getting to electrical boxes, for running wires, and even for small pipes, as well as for things like hanging light fixtures, something like a spiral saw will do very well.

A spiral saw is actually one of the best tools to use for this task, as it can do circular cuts, plunge cuts, and freehand cuts, and is ideal for cutouts as well. The only thing that the spiral saw really is not ideal for is for making long and straight cuts, especially if you have many pieces of drywall that need to be cut.

7. Jigsaw

Jigsaw Although the jigsaw definitely isn’t the number one tool that you can use for cutting drywall, it is an option. Now, keep in mind that no matter the case, whether drywall or otherwise, jigsaws are never ideal for cutting long and straight lines, as they just don’t have enough control.

However, if you need to make some small cuts, especially for things like cutouts and for making holes in drywall, then a jigsaw is going to work very well. Jigsaws are ideal for cutting all sorts of shapes, irregular cuts, and curves too. Just make sure that you are using the right kind of blade for drywall.

8. Hole Saw

Hole Saw If you just need to make some circular holes in your drywall, for running wires or pipes, then using a hole saw, otherwise known as a hole saw cutter, is a great option.

If you are making many circular cuts, then this is absolutely the best tool that you can use. Just remember that you cannot use this tool to cut any other types of shapes, curves, or straight lines. This is a tool that is only designed to cut circles.

9. Circular Saw

Circular Saw The other tool that you can use to cut drywall is a good old circular saw. Circular saws may make somewhat rough cuts and cause tearing to occur, so they aren’t the first choice. However, if you are not too concerned about super clean edges, and you need to make many long and straight lines, then a circular saw is definitely ideal.

Just keep in mind that with a circular saw, you cannot touch curves or irregular shapes.

How to Cut Drywall with a Utility Knife

One of the most popular tools for cutting drywall, especially if we are talking about long straight lines, is the utility knife. Below, we have provided you with a step-by-step tutorial on exactly how to cut drywall with a utility knife.

Step 1: Measure and Mark

Before you get started, you first need to measure the space that the new piece of drywall is meant to fit into. Make sure to use your measuring tape to take accurate measurements. With your measurements taken and written down, transfer those measurements onto the piece of drywall. Use your measuring tape and a marking utensil of your choice, a pencil being best, to mark your line on the drywall.

Step 2: Support the Drywall

With your measurements taken, you now need to find a way to support the drywall. You don’t want to start scoring it without it being supported from underneath. Therefore, place it on something like a sawhorse or a table for good support.

Step 3: Score the Drywall

You are now going to use your utility knife to score a straight line through the drywall. First and foremost, make sure that you have a new utility knife with a very sharp blade, because the sharper the blade, the easier this will go.
Use moderate pressure to score a straight line according to your markings. Remember, don’t apply too much pressure at once, because you might damage the drywall.
Instead, it’s better to make several passes using less pressure. Moreover, make sure that you don’t cut all the way through the drywall, as this can actually cause damage and result in the drywall snapping where you don’t want it to. Cut around three-quarters of the way through the drywall, and then move on to the next step.

Step 4: Snap the Drywall

With the drywall scored, you now want to lean it against something like a wall, with the side that is still intact facing the wall. You can now use your foot or your hands to apply a bit of pressure to the line that you have scored, and the drywall should snap cleanly in half.

How to Cut Installed Drywall

If you are looking to cut drywall that has already been installed on a wall, then there are a few different tools that you have at your disposal. Something like a keyhole saw or a drywall saw will work best if you don’t have any power tools.

However, if you need to make smaller holes or cutouts for things like pipes, wires, or electrical boxes, then tools such as an oscillating tool, a Dremel, a Rotozip, or a hole saw will work best. Personally, we recommend using either a manual tool or a tool that has a very small blade, such as an oscillating tool.

You don’t want to use any tool with a large blade because you don’t want to end up cutting through any studs, pipes, or wires behind the drywall. You need something that will allow you to feel what is behind the drywall so you don’t cause any undue damage.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks: Cutting Drywall Cleanly and Without Dust

Let’s go over some quick tips and tricks to help cut drywall cleanly and without causing too much dust to fly up into the air:

  • If you are using a power tool, make sure to wear breathing protection, as drywall dust is toxic
  • If you want to prevent dust from being created, using a manual tool such as a keyhole saw or a utility knife is recommended
  • If you are using a power tool, and you need to cut straight lines, an oscillating tool is going to make some of the cleanest cuts


Now that you know what all of the different options are, you can make an informed choice in terms of what tool to use to cut drywall.