Building A Drywall Jack

  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-300
What You'll Need
High-Lift jack (large bumper jack)
2x4 lumber
4x8 sheets of plywood

If you are working by yourself, you will need a drywall jack to hang drywall on a ceiling. Commercial models can cost hundreds of dollars, but with a few simple tools, you can easily build your own jack.

The pipe to extend the jack and the fitting for the top will depend on your jack manufacturer. It is best if the flat 'foot' top of the pipe screws onto the pipe itself, instead of just loosely fitting on. This also means that you can add on lengths of pipe as necessary, depending on the ceiling height. Using iron pipe is much better than attempting to use aluminum or PVC.

Step 1

Bolt the base of the jack to the sheet of plywood using the heaviest bolts that will fit through the jack base. Fit the upright jack into the base, and tighten screws to hold it in place if necessary to keep it stable. The heavier the frame base, the better off you will be when lifting up the drywall sheets.

Step 2

Make a frame out of 2x4 lumber to hold the sheet of drywall. The frame should be 6 inches smaller than the sheet to provide even support when lifted. Be sure to use heavy duty screws to fasten the frame together.

Install cross-members so that the frame looks like a grid. In the middle of the 2x4 frame, screw a 1-foot square of plywood firmly to the lumber. You may need to put in more cross-members to make sure that it is very secure. It is not possible to overbuild the frame.

Step 3

Using bolts, attach the top flat plate firmly to the frame centerpiece. If the pipe screws into the top plate, screw it on now. Then place the frame/pipe assembly over the jack.

Step 4

Place sheet of drywall onto the frame, and check to make sure that the whole thing is stable before you lift any sheets above your head. If the device wobbles, tighten any loose bolts.

Reaching the Ceiling

Most lift jacks only go up about 36 inches. To reach ceiling height, you will need to place the base of the drywall jack stand on scaffolding or a table. Most ceilings are 8 feet 6 inches in height, so be sure to plan the length of the pipe well. Try to have a number of different pipes available to suit your needs.

If you have threaded pipe, you can just add on lengths as necessary. You can use couplings to join several different lengths of pipe together.

Using the Jack

Once you get the whole drywall jack assembled, you can place a sheet of drywall on top of it. Crank the jack to slowly lift it into place, where you can attach it with 1 5/8-inch drywall screws to the joists.