DIY Sheetrock Hoist for About $100





Introduction: DIY Sheetrock Hoist for About $100

About: I've been attempting to build a house mostly by myself for the last five years... I finally more or less finished it before the bunker project and after recovering from cr...

When I was building the house I had decided to hang all the sheetrock myself and sub-out the taping and texture because that would be just too big of a job to take on by myself.

The house has ten foot ceilings and the time before I had rented a sheet rock hoist it wasn't until I got home and realized it was meant for eight foot ceilings and I had to make piles of pallets with a sheet of plywood on top to reach the front garage ceiling and I tend to drag projects out forever so I try and avoid renting things if I can buy it or make it for the estimated cost of a rental. I've always loved to weld things since I was a teenager so I made a trip to the local salvage yard and got some scrap pipe and tube steel which ended up being about $40 since you pay by the pound. I then went and bought a cable hoist like would be on a boat trailer to put the thing in and out at the dock and 4 heavy casters and pulley with a bracket included for about $50.

Step 1: The Lifting Jack

The basic working component is a two inch pipe about five feet long and a piece of square tube steel, thick walled and I think is about an inch and a half across that fit loosely inside the two inch pipe but not so loose it would just float free since you want it to stay inline as you extend it. By dumb luck the pulley I chose had a bracket spaced wide enough for the square tube to fit through but snug enough to keep the tube aligned so it couldn't spin and get the cable wrapped up and it held the pulley pretty close but not touching the tube.

I never question dumb luck!

Step 2: The Base

I thought hard about the dimensions of the base since I wanted to be able to lift 12 foot sheet without it tipping but also I realized it needed to fit a variety of floor areas so I basically made and X that was about thirty inches wide and about five foot long which allowed me to set it up in hallways and doorways and plus I wanted to be sure this would break down and fit in the bed of a pick up. At the center of the X I welded a piece of two and a half inch pipe that I once again luckily stumbled upon at the salvage yard, about sixteen inches long and welded some braces as seemed fit. I welded the caster to the other side and when you buy the caster the bigger the wheel the easier it is to roll across a floor of a house under construction so you don't come to a sudden stop by rolling across any debris.

Step 3: The Top

For the piece on top to hold the sheet rock as you turn the crank I made a basic rectangle using a lighter piece of tube steel and some angle iron about an eight of an inch thick and probably an inch and a half on the sides. I wanted the top to be fairly light and I had noticed on the one I rented the top had a tendency to let the edges bend down which makes it harder to get flush fits when you're along a wall or putting a second sheet next to the first, so when I laid out the pieces for the top I assembled them upside down and used some half inch wood spacers to make the center form a slight arch and once again just dumb luck that worked out so with a 12 foot sheet of Drywall the sheet remains family close to being in a single plain. You can crank it within and inch of the ceiling joists then make fine adjustments before you turn it the last few clicks on the crank. I also built in some slop so you could teeter totter it in all direction a few degree because every once in a while the floor of a job might not be perfectly parallel to the ceiling.

Another important thing is to sty away from multiples of 12 or sixteen inches when deciding where the braces go in the top part. The reason for this is so you don't every lift and piece up and then discover there is a piece of steel in the way keeping you from screwing the sheet rock up which would mean lowering it and shifting it on the platform.

If you keep your spaces in multiples of 20 inches its very likely at random you will have a piece of steel in your way but you will have plenty of areas not blocked to the point you can get enough screws secured to hold it there long enough to finish screwing it off after the lift is removed.

PS I live in Florida about 30 miles from the Gulf and built this house so I would not need to evacuate during a bad Hurricane so all the walls of the house are covered with plywood glued and nailed every 5 inches to the studs before being sheet rocked and some of the ceilings on the main floor have plywood to. The bottom level of the house has plywood glued and nailed to the ceiling which makes for a very strong roof if the top of the house get's shredded. This makes the bottom level very protected and should be safe in a Tornado since its underground on three sides .

The lift worked great for doing this and let me do that part by myself at my own speed.

Step 4: Odds to End On

Another thing I took into consideration was deciding how high the hoist would be at the lowest setting and I decided to allow for emergencies and made the height six and a half feet. If something happens and the cable breaks and the hoist drops suddenly you want plenty of head room when it stops.

Avoid head injuries at all costs, just trust me on that one.

It actually is easier to manually lift a heavy piece of sheet rock over your head as you place it on the lift than it would be if you had to only lift waste high. Sheet rock is kind of flimsy and if you've ever done this you know the best way is to lift it from underneath than pic up the edges and try and carry it in the same plane as the floor. I'm five foot ten and I was able to do at least a dozen pieces of 12 foot sheet rock up on the ceiling completely solo and on days I had a helper we could knock out a room in no time and my back wasn't killing me any more than it normal does.

I also discovered that using the tape used for putting camper tops to the bed of a truck works to let the pieces of sheetrock slide easier without any gouges a spur on a weld might cause. I just left the plastic backing that you normlly pull off of double sided tape and it held up enough to do about 6000 square feet of ceilings.



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    26 Discussions

    Excellent instructable!! but how works the mechanism of the crank pulley? can't seem to figure it out. Can you post pictures of the mechanism? Thanks!

    Heya Lenny,

    I could make one but the price of steel has gone way up and shipping the thing would be outrageous. If you are needing it for a one time project it would be a whole lot cheaper to rent one. When it breaks down the base is about seven by four feet and the top about the same. The post is maybe six feet long collapsed so it would need crated and I doubt fed ex or UPS wouldn't ship it so you'd need a carrier that ships things like engines etc.

    not handy can i make the sheet rock hoist

    Pretty good write up on an equally good project I'll say ! There is a lot to be learned from hiring a proper equipment then reverse engineering one of your own . Often that leads to improvements in material or construction to suit personal idea or multiple uses from your own gear. As it happens I have learnt from your instructable and will ever so slightly modify your structure with a direct copy of the jack for my own ceilings which are due for replacement. So thank you and congratulations on being a capable and calculating trouble shooter.

    Nice job. House sounds great, too. I glued OSB (7/1") on the walls of my barn and intend to repeat on the interior surfaces of the walls as well (good nailing surface or a shop) and structurally - its becoming like a rock. They sell teflon tape in 2" widths that is thicker than used for threading pipe fittings nd could be glued on the surface holding teh sheets so as to avoid rough welds and even some movement of the sheet once "up." I use it on some woodworking jigs that have to slide along the table saw top and such. Good job ad good instructions//pictures.

    2 replies

    Well, my house is like a rock! And made of stone too! The walls are about 70 cm (over 3 ft.) thick and stand for over a century. Taking into consideration the contractor's bad skills when we added a living room, I trust the old part better than the one he built. As for building with wood, do it like you were building a ship. As strong as that.

    I did. Every wall inside and out has plywood glued and nailed underneith the sheetrock so it is similar to a bunch of shipping containers joined to form rooms. The building inspector told me it would take 150 mph winds on the main floor... I'm 30 miles from the gulf and hate to evacuate plus have a below grade level that is big enough to house my entire street plus kennels for all the dogs and cats built under my workbench. Plan ahead!

    I always wondered how this was done. I'm impressed. I need to take a welding class soon. Excellent Job.

    6 replies

    I bought my welder when I was 20 for $2500 in 1981? and was welding quarter panels on cars a week later. It paid for itself in 6 months. They were fairly new on the market then hence the high cost and even a small gassless one at $300 will do an amazing amount of work. I never had a welding class. I watch someone that knows how to do things and learn, it's a lucky knack that I have but usually one time is all I need to get the basic idea and I practiced on scrap metal and never set a car on fire! PS: Always be carefull welding vertical tubes, they are painted or undercoated and the flames turn it into a chimney powered engine. I have though caught myself on fire many times LOL.

    Maybe not. If you are considering MIG welding, that should be pretty easy. I've learned SMAW (shielded metal arc-welding) by myself, just with the help of some books and guitar playing (you'll understand this part when you start welding). Hell, I once asked a blacksmith to weld a stainless steel pipe to a beer keg and he melted two holes in the metal in three seconds! I decided to take it home and weld it myself. You know what? I didn't need more than a dozen welds worth of experience to weld better than that... pro!

    I've had friends who have done that. My stuff would be structural repairs and modifications on high stress areas of cars. There's nothing fun about a sub-standard weld on a car coming loose at a critical moment. On a side note, I've been watching the developments on structural expoxy for cars. It's good for large surface area bonds. Pretty neat stuff. Thanks for the encouragement

    There is nothing funny about welds failing, but there should be nothing stopping you from learning how to make welds of lesser importance before taking those classes. A person that tries to learn by itself is better prepared to evaluate problems when they come up, so I advise everyone to try to learn things alone. Besides, it's always good to have a proper knowledge base before taking any classes. Sometimes, the people that are supposed to teach know less than their students.

    I bought my mig before I ever used one and taught myself. There is a lot of motor skills involved with welding that you can't learn by reading...

    Certainly there are a lot of motor skills to be mastered and that can't be learned by reading, but I was lucky to have found some manuals before I learned how to weld that gave me an insight on what skills I had to learn and even before I got that old SMAW welder in working order, I had already trained those skills. And remember that stick welding is the most demanding process on motor skills, especially when inverter machines ar not used.

    Sheetrocking is fun o new construction :) I did it for awhile and used a lift sometimes. what was teh costing on this if I may inquire? You can get a lift for what 600 bucks? Btw rock on brother :) Sheetrocking is a thrill sport lol. -anthony

    4 replies

    Right around a hundred dollars since I was able to buy scrap steel by the pound, Buying stock steel likely would make it around $250

    Oh, why'd yah put that strip on the wall at the top? Wasn't it wide enough to put in the center and double flat it?

    It cost about a hundred dollars in parts to build and I got asked a lot why I didn't run the 2 foot section in the middle and not knowing better I figured taping the factory edges would show less than taping along a cut. It's easier to finish in the middle as far as mudding is concerned so I figure that's why most finishers like it hung that way but I'm no pro so I dunno...

    >.< Hehe professional drywalling can be a monster :) we would put the joints the middle because with the new tools you can easily make it look smooth with a butt - seam joint. just means a wider joint. 100 dollars would be quite a deal for a lift. Nice job :)