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Best Drywall Cutters 2022

Jan 21, 2024Jan 21, 2024

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From hole saws to jigsaws, even the good ol’ utility knife, these are the tools you need for scoring and slicing drywall.

Cutting drywall can be challenging, time-consuming, and messy. To make matters worse, selecting the right tool from the plethora of products on the market can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. So how do you find the best drywall cutter for the job? If you’re interested in finding the perfect tool for your next drywall project, read on to discover how to choose the right tool along with the nine best drywall cutters in several different categories.

Power drywall cutters rely on electricity to operate. They can either be powered by a battery or an electrical cord plugged into a standard household AC outlet. Power tools are quick and efficient and require minimal manual effort to operate. They are often the best choice for cutting a large amount, or large sections, of drywall.

Manual drywall cutters are operated by the manual effort of the operator rather than by electricity or a battery. The two most common examples of manual cutters are handsaws and utility knives, which are used for making smaller cuts in drywall (in the case of handsaws) or to cut straight sections of drywall (with a utility knife) prior to hanging them on the wall. Manual tools are also ideal in work areas in which you don't have access to electricity, especially if you don't want to dish out the money to purchase a battery-powered drywall cutter suitable for making small and straight cuts.

Corded drywall cutters are typically the most powerful and affordable. However, their cords may make it difficult to reach certain areas if you’re working in a large space since the reach of the tool is limited to the length of the cord. Consequently, they frequently need to be connected to an additional extension cord. They’re also typically a bit larger and clunkier than cordless tools, making them more difficult to handle and maneuver in tight or confined areas.

Cordless, or battery-powered, drywall cutters are powered by a battery instead of relying on a power cord connected to an electrical outlet. This makes them much more maneuverable and portable as they’re often much more compact than their corded counterparts. The main downsides of cordless tools are that they’re usually less powerful than corded tools, and the batteries have a limited lifespan. They can also be more expensive, particularly if you need to purchase the batteries separately. That being the case, it's often best to purchase a cordless drywall cutter that's the same brand as any existing cordless tools you already own and have a universal battery system for.

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A handheld drywall saw (also called a "jab saw" or "keyhole saw") consists of a long blade with large teeth and a sharp point designed specifically for cutting through drywall. Drywall saws are affordable and effective, and considerably less expensive than power tools. However, since they’re a manually powered hand tool, they take more time and physical effort to operate than power tools. They also lack the precision cutting capabilities of many power tools, but they’re incredibly useful for making small, rough cuts of practically any shape that's required.

Another affordable and manually operated option, a utility knife is an essential addition to any drywall project. It's the most commonly used tool for making straight cuts on drywall panels prior to hanging them on the wall, but can also be used to cut a groove into drywall (also called "scoring") to act as a guide for another cutting tool to assist in making straight and clean cuts.

A spiral saw is a power tool that uses a rotating round cutting blade, similar in appearance and function to a drill bit, that specializes in making plunge and curved cuts through thin materials like drywall and plywood. Spiral saws are equipped with a depth adjustment to ensure that the cutting blade doesn't penetrate too deep into the material, which is especially helpful in avoiding cutting into plumbing and electrical lines behind the drywall.

Another power tool made for precision cutting, the oscillating multi-tool uses a rectangular, semi-circular, or triangular cutting blade that oscillates back and forth to make fast and accurate cuts. Although oscillating multi-tools can't be used for making curved or circular cuts, they’re more accurate and efficient at cutting straight lines than spiral saws are. In addition to working on drywall, oscillating multi-tools can be used on a variety of other materials, like wood and metal, if equipped with the appropriate blade. Other attachments available include scraper blades and sanding discs.

A reciprocating saw utilizes a back-and-forth cutting motion to replicate the action of a manual, handheld saw. Although not made specifically for cutting drywall, these demolition machines can rapidly cut large amounts and sections of drywall. They’re arguably the most powerful power tool that can be used for cutting drywall but aren't as effective at making clean, straight cuts. Additionally, the larger blades they use typically makes them more prone to cutting into plumbing or electrical lines behind the drywall. To minimize this risk and offer greater control of the cutting speed, many models have a variable speed control integrated into the trigger. Like oscillating multi-tools, they can be used for cutting several different materials, such as wood and metal, when used with the right blade.

A rotary tool is very similar to a spiral saw, in that its bits rotate at fast speeds to cut, sand, or scrape depending on the attachment you install. The primary advantages of rotary tools over spiral saws is that there is a huge assortment of attachments available for a wider range of applications, which grants them a greater level of multipurpose functionality. Another difference is that they often have a variable speed control, allowing you to control the bit's rotation speed anywhere from 5,000 to 35,000 rpm.

A jigsaw uses the same back-and-forth cutting action as a reciprocating saw, but with a smaller blade to produce more accurate straight and curved cuts. One of the main disadvantages of using a jigsaw for cutting drywall is that the blade doesn't have a depth adjustment, so you run the risk of hitting electrical or plumbing lines if you’re cutting drywall on the wall. Consequently, jigsaws are best used for cutting drywall prior to installing it on your wall. Aside from cutting drywall, a jigsaw can also be used for cutting wood, plastic, metal, and tile if equipped with the appropriate blade.

Hole saws are cylindrical drill-bit attachments with saw teeth around the perimeter used for cutting holes of a much larger diameter than a standard drill bit. Although spiral saws, rotary saws, and jigsaws can also make circular cuts, hole saws do so more quickly and accurately. They’re especially useful in scenarios where making perfectly round cuts is essential, or when you need to cut round openings in your ceiling (like for light fixtures) when another tool would prove impractical. There are even dust collector attachments available for capturing any drywall dust the saw produces to minimize the mess in your work space.

Of the products I recommend here, I either currently own or have personally used many of them in a professional capacity. For the remainder of the selections, I took into account customer reviews on sites like Home Depot and Amazon, as well as researched other articles on high-authority sites that reviewed drywall cutters. I aimed to choose products in a variety of categories to ensure that you find the best drywall cutter for your individual needs and budget.

Key Specs

As a longtime lover of all things Ryobi, I’ve considered this spiral saw my go-to drywall cutting tool for cutting pieces of drywall of all shapes and sizes. This spiral saw's cutting blade rotates at an impressive 27,000 rpm, and the saw has a bit chuck that can accept ⅛- and ¼-inch bits. It's also incredibly comfortable to use, having an ergonomic grip and design that's 30 percent more compact than comparable spiral saws. To sweeten the deal even further, Ryobi threw in a plywood bit and drywall bit to get you started cutting through multiple materials right out of the gate.

Key Specs

From Stanley's FatMax line of tools—which includes the infamous, job-site staple FatMax tape measures—comes the 6-inch drywall hand saw. With its patented SharpTooth technology, it can cut up to 50 percent faster than comparable handsaws on the market, and has a sharpened tip for easily penetrating into drywall. To keep the saw cutting this efficiently for as long as possible, the blade is induction-hardened so it can stay sharp five times longer than blades without this hardening treatment. To top it all off, the saw's thick and ergonomic rubber grip prevents slipping and makes it comfortable to use.

Key Specs

There's rarely a lot to get excited about when it comes to a tool as simple as a utility knife, but the Fastback II changes all of that. It's a folding utility knife with a unique "press and flip" feature that allows you to open the blade with one hand, which is incredibly convenient when you’re in the midst of a project and have your hands full. For when the blade needs to be replaced, the Fastback II incorporates a magnetic storage compartment that folds out from the handle for holding spare blades. Among the other unique features, Fastback included a built-in wire stripper on the bottom of the blade housing.

Key Specs

The RotoZip has been considered the industry standard for spiral saws for years. In fact, on many job sites you will commonly hear tradesmen refer to any brand of spiral saw as a "rotozip." With the astonishing power of 30,000 rpm, the RotoZip spiral saw can make quick work out of any drywall project. To counteract the drywall dust emitted by its fast-spinning blade, it features exhaust vents to direct drywall dust away from the workspace in order to maintain a clear line of sight on your cutting area. It has two grip zones to maximize comfort when you’re working in either a vertical or horizontal position, as well as a built-in "bump switch" for one-handed operation that shuts off the tool when the handle isn't being gripped.

Key Specs

If you’re looking for a tool that can do much more than simply cut through drywall, Dewalt's oscillating multi-tool kit is hard to beat. It's equipped with a powerful 3-amp motor with a variable-speed controller integrated into the trigger for superior control. Unlike many other oscillating multi-tools, it has a quick-change attachment system for swapping out blades and attachments without the need for a separate wrench and includes a multi-brand accessory adapter that can accommodate practically any brand of multi-tool attachment. Perhaps most unique is the tool's guide-system attachment that lets you set the blade's cutting depth, so you don't have to worry about cutting through plumbing or electrical lines behind the drywall. To top it all off, the 29-piece kit comes with a triangular detail sander, sanding pads, several types of oscillating blades, and a carrying case to store it all.

Key Specs

The Milwaukee Sawzall has been the industry standard for reciprocating saws for years, to the extent that reciprocating saws are generically referred to as "sawzalls" on construction sites. I’ve owned my Sawzall for about a decade and have used it extensively for drywall projects—among many others. It boasts a 12-amp motor that delivers more than enough power to rapidly run through drywall, and features a variable speed control built into the trigger for superior control of the cutting speed. Milwaukee also included a counterweighted mechanism and thick rubber grip for vibration reduction and enhanced ergonomics.

Key Specs

While I don't own this specific Dremel model (though I wish I did), my Dremel has served me well for accurately cutting drywall in tight spaces that other tools couldn't reach. The Dremel 4000 is a powerhouse of a rotary tool with a variable speed controller that allows you to customize the cutting speed from 5,000 to 35,000 rpm, which is more powerful than most other rotary tools on the market. It even comes with several attachments and accessories, including a circle cutter attachment for making perfectly round cutouts in your drywall. To store all of these handy accessories, Dremel also provides you with a sturdy carrying case.

Key Specs

Combining affordability and versatility in a robust and compact package, Black+Decker's jigsaw can easily tackle any drywall project along with several other home improvement tasks. It features a 4.5-amp motor that delivers up to 3,000 rpm, while also incorporating a variable speed controller in the trigger for maximum control of your cuts. With its built-in dust blower, it can clear drywall dust from your cutting area to maintain a clear line of sight of your work surface. It has a tilting baseplate that allows you to make 45-degree bevel cuts, which may not be particularly useful for cutting drywall but can be incredibly handy when cutting wood. For the price, this saw's several remarkable features make it an excellent all-around home improvement tool.

Key Specs

The Hole Pro X-305 is essentially an entire hole saw kit in a single tool. As opposed to having to select from an assortment of hole saws of different diameters, the Hole Pro utilizes two adjustable cutting blades for customizing the hole size from 1⅞ to 12 inches. It comes with two different types of cutting blades: a pair of High Speed Steel (HSS) for wood, plastic, tile, laminate, and rubber; and a pair of Tungsten carbide blades for drywall, plaster, fiberglass, and plywood. Perhaps best of all, it includes a dust collection cup that keeps your workplace from getting covered in drywall dust and other debris, and you can even purchase a vacuum adapter for attaching a shop-vac to the cup. Although this hole saw set is a bit expensive, its ability to essentially replace an even pricier option makes it an incredible value for the money.

PM: How do you reduce dust when cutting drywall?

J.F.: To reduce the collection of drywall dust in your work area, you can lay down surface protection (i.e. tarps or drop cloths) on the floor of your work area. You can also prevent the spread of drywall dust in other rooms of your home by erecting a dust barrier (like a Zip Wall) to isolate the dust to your work area. The amount of drywall dust you will create will also depend on the tool you use, but many power tools have shop-vac or dust-collector attachments available that suck up the dust as you’re cutting through the drywall.

PM: How do you cut a straight line in drywall?

J.F.: The best way to cut an accurate straight line in drywall is to use a utility knife and a T-square. Place the horizontal portion of the T-square on the top of the panel, and the vertical portion on the location you want to cut the drywall. Mark the drywall panel with a pencil, and then use your utility knife to lightly score along the pencil mark. Press down on the panel to fold it over until it snaps along the score line, then cut the paper on the back side of the panel with the knife. That being said, this method is only intended for cutting drywall panels prior to installing them on your wall. If you want to make a straight cut on a drywall panel already on the wall, an oscillating multi-tool is often the best choice.

PM: What is the best tool to use to cut drywall?

J.F.: There isn't one best tool to cut drywall, so the best tool will largely depend on the individual job. Some drywall cutters are designed for making small and precise cuts, others are best for making large and rough cuts, and others lie somewhere in between. Moreover, if you need to make curved or circular cuts, a jab saw, spiral saw, rotary saw, jigsaw, or hole saw will be required.

James Fitzgerald is a home improvement freelance writer with over a decade of experience in a variety of trades—he has worked as a ranch hand, construction carpenter, tree climber, maintenance technician, and handyman. His freelance work focuses on DIY, landscaping, gardening, and home improvement. James's writing has appeared in Bob Villa, The Family Handyman, The Spruce, HomeServe USA, Forbes Home, and This Old House.

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The Expert: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: Key Specs Type: Manual or Power Tool: Corded or Cordless: Model No.: PM: How do you reduce dust when cutting drywall? J.F. PM: How do you cut a straight line in drywall? J.F. PM: What is the best tool to use to cut drywall? J.F.