A Dremel equipped with a drywall cutting bit is an excellent tool for cutting around in-wall electrical boxes and other fixtures. It makes clean holes that allow you to install drywall and run your wiring for switches, outlets, and any other in-wall elements. To use a Dremel for this task:
- Measure to locate the electrical box or other items in relation to the sheet of drywall to be installed.
- Mark the center point of the electrical box on the drywall sheet.
- Hang the sheet of drywall, screwing it into place at the top of the sheet only.
- Equip your Dremel with a drywall bit.
- Plunge the Dremel bit into the drywall at the marked center point of the electrical box.
- Move the Dremel downward, cutting in a straight line until you reach the edge of the electrical box.
- Take the Dremel bit out, then plunge it into the wall 1/8 inch below the electrical box edge.
- Cut around the outside of the electrical box, moving in a counterclockwise motion.
- Remove the drywall cutout.
- Push the drywall flush to the wall and screw it in place.
With these steps, you will cut a perfect hole for the electrical box, which will allow you to secure the drywall flush to the wall studs.
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Can You Use a Dremel to Cut Drywall?
A Dremel can be used to make precision cuts in drywall panels, provided it is equipped with a drywall-cutting bit. While you can use a Dremel to cut a straight line through drywall with this bit, it is not the quickest or most efficient way to cut drywall. A Dremel is best used to cut holes in drywall that have specific curves and turns.
- You can cut drywall with a Dremel equipped with this drywall cutting bit.
- Use a Dremel to cut detailed lines with curves and turns.
- A Dremel is best used to cut holes in drywall for pipes and electrical boxes.
Often, you will be installing drywall over studs where electrical boxes have been installed. It’s crucial to cut holes in the drywall as you hang it to provide access to these electrical boxes. That way, you can wire switches and outlets after drywall installation. A Dremel is a great tool for cutting these precise holes in drywall.
10 Steps to Cut Drywall with a Dremel
When cutting drywall with a Dremel or other rotary tool, always wear eye and ear protection, as well as a dust mask over your nose and mouth. Not only are Dremels loud, but they produce a lot of dust when cutting. Once you’ve got your protective gear, your Dremel, and your drywall bit, it’s time to get started.
Locate the Electrical Box
Before you hang your sheet of drywall, locate any electrical boxes attached to the studs. Use a measuring tape to find the center point of all electrical boxes. Measure from the edge of the nearest installed sheet of drywall to the center laterally. Then, measure from the floor to the center point, to find the height of the electrical box. Write these measurements down on your phone or on a piece of paper.
Mark Center Point on Drywall
Before hanging your drywall, use the measurements from Step 1 to draw 2 lines on your sheet of drywall. The point where these lines intersect is the center point of the in-wall electrical box.
Partially Secure Your Drywall.
Begin installing your drywall, making sure the sheet is oriented so that the marked center point lines up properly with the electrical box. Because electrical boxes extend forward from the stud by a fraction of an inch, your drywall will not sit flush with the studs. If you try to secure it in place, you will crack or break your drywall where it meets the electrical box. To avoid this, secure the drywall at the top of the sheet only, with one screw in each stud.
Equip Your Dremel with a Drywall Bit
Insert the drywall bit into the Dremel and adjust the length of the drywall bit that extends beyond the guide plate. The bit should extend 3/4–1 inch (2–2.5 cm) beyond the guide plate. This will ensure the bit cuts through the drywall without damaging the wires or electrical box behind the wall.
Cut From the Center Point to the Inner Edge of the Electrical Box
Plunge the drywall bit into the drywall at the marked center point of the electrical box. Then, cut in a straight line downward. Move slowly, with even pressure. When the drywall bit stops, this means it has made contact with the inner edge of the electrical box. Stop cutting and pull the drywall bit out of the wall.
Plunge the Dremel Into the Drywall On the Outside Edge of the Electrical Box
Now that you have found the inner edge of the electrical box, the battle is half over. But for the drywall to sit flush with the studs, you will need to cut around the outer edge of the box. To do this, plunge the drywall bit into the drywall 1/8 inch (3 mm) below the point where the bit made contact with the inner edge of the box. The bit should now be cutting through the drywall on the outer perimeter of the box.
Cut Around the Outside of the Electrical Box
Move the bit in a counter-clockwise motion, following the edge of the electrical box. To make sure you do not cut a larger hole than is necessary, keep contact with the electrical box. So, if you are cutting at the bottom of the electrical box, exert slight upwards pressure. This will not only keep the Dremel bit right along the box, but when you reach the edge of the box, the Dremel will naturally begin cutting upwards to follow the vertical side of the box.
Remove the Cut Drywall Piece
Once you have fully cut around the electrical box, use a scraper to pry out the cut piece of drywall. Before attempting this, make sure you have cut completely through the drywall, to avoid damaging the drywall or tearing the paper.
Push the Drywall Flush to the Studs
With the cutout removed, push the drywall up against the studs. Make sure the electrical box slots into the hole you have cut for it. If you missed any curves or turns while cutting, make additional cuts with the Dremel. Your job is done when the drywall comfortably sits flush and the electrical box is not interfering with any of the drywall edges.
Fully Secure Your Drywall
With the drywall flush to the wall, secure it completely by driving in drywall screws around the edges of the drywall and along any studs in the center of the drywall sheet. Now, your job is done, and you can easily wire any electrical components or fixtures into the electrical box.
How Do You Cut Drywall with a Rotary Tool?
Use your Dremel or another rotary tool to cut drywall around in-wall elements that must be accessed or that prevent the drywall from lying flush with the studs. Electrical boxes are the most common item you will be required to cut around. In order to perform this cut, mark where the electrical box is on your drywall sheet before hanging it. Then, hang the drywall sheet securing it only at the top. Next, use a Dremel equipped with a drywall bit to cut around the outside edge of the electrical box. After cutting, push the drywall flush to the wall and ensure the electrical box is not interfering with the drywall. Make any additional cuts with the Dremel as necessary to ensure a perfect fit. Finally, secure the sheet of drywall in place with additional screws.