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Build a Stud Wall and Fasten Drywall

Screwdriving Made Simple

It's sheer idiocy to do home improvement without power-driven screws. Strong, less destructive than nails, and removable when you screw up, screws have revolutionized home work. But driving big screws with a variable-speed drill can be a tough knack to learn. Try these tips:

  • Frank T's trick: Drag the screw through a bar of damp hand soap. A bit of grease makes all the difference.

  • Drill a pilot hole most of the way through the joint.

  • Drill a bigger hole through the outer board—screw threads only need to grab the substrate—the wood behind whatever you're fastening.

  • Don't try to grab more than 1 12" of substrate. Longer screws take too much work!

  • Use screws that fit a square screwdriver bit, which gets a better grab than a Philips bit.

  • Use a new screwdriver bit, and make sure it's the right size.

  • If your power screwdriver starts to slip, immediately stop. Reverse the drill and pull the screw out a bit before driving it back in.

  • If the screw head gets mangled, replace the screw before it gets stuck.

  • Use plenty of pressure on the drill. Driving big screws is not a one-handed job.

  • Don't overdrive the screw. Get ready to release the trigger just before the screw is home.

Step 5: Drywalling Season

Building Smarts

If your basement is damp, consider using the moisture-resistant drywall sold for bathrooms.

I've already described how to drywall a less-obstructed room in Drywall an Existing Wall, which covers the basics of cutting, fitting, and attaching drywall. A basement is more difficult, due to those obstructions. If you have pipes against the ceiling, as we did, end the drywall just below the pipes instead of making endless cutouts.

To cut drywall around complicated obstructions, make a cardboard pattern. When the pattern fits, mark the drywall from it.

A slick drywall trick: Fasten an oversize piece in position, then cut it off at a doorway or a corner. Guide a utility knife along the stud.

To match drywall against an irregular surface, use a trick called scribing. Hold the drywall vertical, place the pencil in the notch and drag it and the cardboard along the irregular edge. After we cut at the line, the sheet will slide left toward the post. Then will we cut the right-hand edge.

Finish the drywalling with help from the article linked above.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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