My boy Kirk, owner of Phoenix Drywall, asked me the other day about a Mud Runner, which could replace an angle box mechanical tool. He wanted to know what I thought about it.

Well I have used them before and I know SOME of the drywallers out there use them. I however don’t care for them.

There are pros and cons to every tool or technique out there. For me a Mud Runner takes a lot of the bull work out of it. Because with an angle box you have to be the power, the pusher to force the mud out of the tool and out onto the wall board/sheetrock(name brand).

So in that instance a Mud Runner is great because it more or less pushes the mud out on it’s own. You basically have to keep it on the surface and lift the tool but the machine pushes the mud out. It also holds more mud, meaning less refills.

The things I don’t like, is there are more moving parts, making it more expensive to maintain. And don’t put it in boiling water(bucket warmer alert). The hot water might melt parts on it. Yes some bucket warmers will actually boil the water and some will not. So be ware.

So the things I don’t like about the mud runner are the initial cost of buying it and more parts to maintain. And I also know some million dollar companies that have high tech tools for many of their drywall needs and do NOT use a mud runner.

It’s just not my style. To me it kinda seems like a wimpy way of working. Why not get in there and push on the tool and just get it done. And if you don’t have the muscle, why not hire someone who can push the darn tool?

One trick is of my experience of using the Mud Runner is I had a problem of it squirting out too much mud at the bottom of the wall angle so the solution is: Start moving the tool and then trigger the mud to come out. Similar to moving your paint spraying gun before hitting the trigger for the paint to come out. That way you don’t get  a buildup of mud, an excess in by the baseboard.

As with all tools, practice will make progress. Some people say perfect, but if you take baby steps your more apt to be encourages instead of the reverse.

Here is another take on it… Buy a tool and deduct it from your taxes as a write off. So question: Do you need the tool? Because here’s the deal, yeah you can write all kinds of stuff off. Now, when you go to retire, don’t be surprised if your social security check is SMALLER as a result of you writing too many things off and saving SO much in taxes over the years.

I think yes take your write offs as you NEED them and if you pay in a certain amount, perhaps if all goes well, you can cash in on larger S.S checks in the end.

When I was trained in by Yellow River Drywall, Don Wick, as a virgin drywaller, we did it all by hand, with the exception of spraying the texture.  Al the angles were done by hand. For the angles, we cut the paper tape to length. Then coated each side with mud and set the tape in it. Let it dry and then ran one side of the angle with a 4″ knife. Then came back the next day and coated the other side.

Smaller remodel jobs were coated one side of the angle with quick set/durabond(easy sand). Then coat the other side w/premixed(blue) mud.

And I will tell you… by the time it’s all said and done, it’s a fair amount of work either way. The mechanical tools were created MAINLY to save on your elbows, knees, shoulders. Most of the tools have handles. Which is an extension and therefore saving on your longer strokes and less strokes needed if you do it manually(without mechanical tools).

Some will say you get faster using mechanical tools, well perhaps. If the tools are running correctly. Yes that means you have to clean them up with water(and soap and warm water if that helps). Maybe some 3:1 oil where it helps. I like the oil on the rubber pieces, but anywhere friction occurs is helpful.

If you don’t clean your tools and just keep them in a bucket of water or whatever. And if you drop them or let them get dirty and don’t take care of them and they stop running correctly, then you might have to start skimming stuff out by hand.

Unless you can get them maintained which means maybe you can do some fixing yourself or hire it out. Right now I send major fixes to Al’s Taping Tools in Minnesota. Minor stuff I take to Russ Root(please live long Russ!). I also know how to do really minor stuff myself, but don’t really care to.

My main job is to notice a tool ain’t running correctly and then get it fixed. If you don’t notice something isn’t up to par, the job could turn out bad or maybe you’re spending way too much on labor to help correct what the tool isn’t performing correctly. Or worse, maybe safety could be a problem i.e extension chord needs fixing and shorts out causing a fire.

That’s a whole another subject. Breaker sizes(including breaker box limits), wire size and length, machine draw power. If chords aren’t the right size they can start on fire. If the ground is not grounded at both ends, then you have no overflow. That could cause problems. Overflow you could compare electricity to water. Think of water like if water is getting too high in a bathtub. You know the overflow every tub & sink has. If the water level gets too high it starts draining out. Same thing with a ground. Well I’m not an electrician, so better to re ask these questions to those Pro’s.

Just know there is a ground wire there for a reason and that you MAY have problems if you don’t use it. Doesn’t mean that you WILL have problems if you don’t.

And that is another subject for another blog post.

Back to the tools… I like using a banjo and mechanical tools. That is where I’m at now and have been for years. And don’t see changing any time soon. In fact I haven’t run a banjo in a LONG time, I have helpers that do that for me now.

We are professional painting contractor and drywalling contractor in the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls area. If you are ever in the Chippewa Valley, look me up. I will be glad to meet with you and or discuss with you any question or concern you may have in any area of my expertise.

Lemme give a shout out to Tim Brownell Painting as well, as Tim gave me a big boost in my early yeas through Skill Tech, aka Trillium (who Skill Tech sold out to). As I understand Tim is doing mainly commercial work now a days & is always a pleasure to chat with.

Tim knows how to have fun, a positive attitude and is a fair man and knows how to get things done. He is a bit of a chameleon as most really successful people are.

5 Required Tools Every Professional Drywall Contractor Must Have

  1. Utility knife – for cutting out loose paper
  2. 6 inch taping knife – for prefill and spotting screws/fasteners)
  3. Pan or hawk – to hold mud
  4. Larger taping knives or trowels – 10 inch, 12, inch, 14 inch
  5. Stilts

3 Bonus Recommended Tools

  1. Banjo – to string tape (also puts mud on the tape for you)
  2. Angle Roller – to set tape in angle (use after stringing tape with banjo)
  3. Air compressor with hopper – to spray texture