A lot of highly skilled builders I know can't stand working with drywall. As someone who makes his living turning the inside of a building white, I understand their feelings, sort of. Yes, drywall is heavy, and it can be unwieldy. But thanks to the generous tolerances we get to work with, placing even 12-ft. drywall sheets is much easier than any other type of panel. But what I really love about drywall (that must sound sick) is that it's one of the easiest materials to cut and shape. For most of my career, I cut out entire houses using just a utility knife and a couple of handsaws. Since I discovered the joy of using a router, my job has gotten even easier.
Take advantage of the tolerancesRegardless of which tool I might be using to cut drywall, I always try to take full advantage of the tolerances: On the rare occasion that I cut a sheet too tight, some smart aleck invariably reminds me that "the tape is 2 in. wide." This old drywaller's refrain doesn't mean we can be sloppy, only that the finishing process allows us enough wiggle room to make sure every piece fits the first time. As a rule, I make all my cuts at least 1/8 in. shorter than the actual measurements. Whenever I'm working into a corner where a succeeding sheet will cover the gap, I allow a good 1/4 in. When I have to make freehand cut-outs -- say for recessed light fixtures -- I back-bevel those cuts to give me extra wiggle room without opening a gap on the face. Back-beveling makes it easy to trim drywall in place with a knife if the cutout is a bit tight.
Straight cuts are "scored and snapped"
Unlike plywood, drywall doesn't need to be set up on sawhorses or to be cut with a circular saw. I often work right off a pile of drywall, but I've found the most efficient position for marking and cutting is on edge against a wall. For straight cuts, I need only a tape measure, a 4-ft. long drywall T-square and a $3 fixed-blade utility knife.
"Score and snap" is not a wrestling move. The author uses his left hand and foot to steady the 4-ft. drywall square, which serves as a straightedge for crosscuts. After scoring the face and breaking the gypsum core, he makes a foot-long cut through the back paper. Finally he simply aplies pressure to snap the sheet in two.