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The Worst...Tool...Ever

One day while sitting down to dinner an innocuous little drop of water dropped to the floor next to where we were sitting. My wife and I looked at each other, then at the ceiling, then at each other again. "Where did THAT come from?".

A further inspection of the ceiling revealed the classic drywall bubbling and a bit of discoloration that is the telltale sign of water damage (sidenote: apparently we don't actually look up at the ceiling all that often, unless of course, it's raining down upon us). After quickly consulting my mental blueprint of the house, I realized that this very spot we sat happens to be directly beneath - the master* bedroom shower.

While we could quickly ascertain what was leaking, it's a bit more involved to ascertain exactly where it is leaking. Given that the water was pooling in the ceiling under the drain pan and not in the walls where the feed lines are, it was a pretty safe bet that either the drain pain or the drain pipe were leaking. We were hoping for the latter.

In order to figure out which was the culprit, I decided to run a hose directly into the drainpipe to see if the water would resume didn't. As a quick check to verify that the drain pan was the culprit I covered the pipe and filled the drain pan with water, and discovered the root cause of the problem. The 4-inch thick concrete drain pan built in 1971 was, not surprisingly, leaking. Knowing what it was going to take to demo 4-inch thick reinforced concrete and build a new bathroom, we very happily contracted that job out to the pros.

However, once the pros were finished, we were still left with a roughly (and I mean very roughly) 3 foot by 3 foot hole in our dining room ceiling. This is just the kind of thing any self-respecting homeowner "should" be able to fix by themselves, I thought. At this point, I'd never actually hung or repaired drywall before (unless you count putting toothpaste in nail holes in my old college apartment) and as it turns out, cutting your teeth on ceiling drywall is an exercise in absolute misery. Fortunately, my dad was there to help me out, although he made very clear his fatherly obligations ended and hanging the drywall. He was to have nothing to do with mudding it.

So with my newfound DIY swagger, I headed off to Home Depot to get some <insert super manly voice here> joint compound, drywall tape, and one of them...tray thingies</end manly voice>. As I peruse the drywall tools area, I happen upon a very special-looking drywall knife that's shaped at a 90-degree angle.

"Why...what is this?" I wondered.

"An inside corner trowel. Well, what luck, I have some inside corners that need trowelin'. "


And this is how I discovered the...worst...tool...ever...invented. After doing my best 6-year-old-decorating-a-cake impression on the flat parts of the patch job, I proceeded to the corners. The first challenge with using an "inside corner trowel" is actually applying the mud to it (turns out, nobody actually calls it "joint compound" except for idiot newbs like me). I'm not even sure you're supposed to put the mud on it, but I did it anyway. About half of it made it onto the wall, with the other half deciding to decorate either the floor or some part of my body.

Eventually, I mastered the get-it-on-there spread-it-quick-and-thick technique and I will say, that with the proper technique this bad boy can lay on copious amounts of mud in a big hurry. Though the same could be said of simply grabbing the mud with my bare hands and slinging it at the wall, with the latter providing a more aesthetically pleasing finish. After many coats, a lot of sanding, and some choice language echoing (mostly) in my head, I manage to "muddle" (pun intended) through the job and patch up the dining room ceiling. Painting it, however, would wait for 8 or so more years. After all, it's not like we look up all that often.

It wasn't until some years later when we decided to re-insulate the upstairs bedrooms that I discovered how you're actually supposed to mud drywall corners...and the technique has absolutely nothing to do with an "inward corner trowel." A quick search on YouTube can give you all the details (or video, with 2.2M views!).

Basically, the proper technique is to apply drywall tape and then mud one side at a time in very thin layers. Why one side at a time? So your hand and/or the drywall knife isn't screwing up the wet mud on one side while you work on the other.

So why do they even sell an "inside corner trowel" - because newb's like me (and you) will clearly buy one. Just because Home Depot sells it, doesn't mean it actually works! Vancouver

Corner Trowel or "plank shim"?

Carpenter (the creator of the video above) says it best: "Corner trowel? Ohhh, you mean my plank shim. That's about the best use I've discovered for this thing since I've had it."

So what does any of this have to do with brentabl? Well, through the years I would end up doing several more drywall projects, each time learning after the fact that I either bought a stupid tool that didn't work or I didn't buy a tool that would have made life a lot easier (drywall square anyone?). It was these experiences that were the nexus behind the creation of our "job kits". Our drywall job kit, for example, provides you with all the right tools you need to hang and patch drywall. No more going to the big box store and buying $50 worth of the wrong tools that you're going to use once every 2 or 3 years. Instead, download the brentabl app, dial-up one of our job kits, and have all the tools you need to do the job right. Best of all, you can send them back when you're done. No need to waste space storing a mud tray, different-sized knives, and that stupid inside corner trowel you shouldn't have bought anyway. Happy Doing!

*yes, I'm aware that the appropriate, politically correct, and hypersensitive term for this is now "primary" bedroom <eye roll>

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