Patrick’s Barn: Customizing a Drywall Lift
A drywall lift is a wonderful tool, especially for a solo hanger. But I recently discovered you can’t use it everywhere. Specifically, I found that the lift didn’t go low enough to hang the lowest panels on the sloping ceiling of my barn workshop. After an unsuccessful attempt at hanging this row of drywall without the lift, I came up with a simple modification to the lift.
I drilled a pair of holes in both of the two main arms that support the sheet. I then removed the metal hooks that prevent the sheet from sliding and attached 5-ft. strips of 3/4-in. fir plywood to the frame with screws run through the holes I drilled. I then attached the metal hooks to the plywood arms with drywall screws and small blocks of plywood. The entire modification took about 15 minutes.
The rig worked great and might have prevented an injured back. It also meant that I didn’t have to cut the 12-ft. sheets into sizes I could handle by myself, thereby saving me from having to tape additional seams.
You can read more about my barn here.
My modification meant that the telescopic supports that are useful for large panels didn't contact the drywall. I could have added plywood blocks to these supports so that they'd be in the same plane as the main supports, but this didn't prove necessary.
The plywood arms allow the lift to go about 2 ft. lower than the lift's standard arrangement. The metal hoops that keep the panel from sliding are attached to the metal arms with wing nuts, so they were easy to remove and reposition.
This is how I attached the metal loops to my improvised plywood arms. I was able to adjust the tension on the hooks by turning the screws in or out. This meant that the hooks pushed back (as designed) if they hit a rafter.
At first, it seemed like too much trouble to modify my drywall lift to hang this lowest row of drywall on my barn's sloping ceiling. But the nearly 12-ft. piece broke in half when I tried to hang it myself.