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At least two companies market the equivalent of professional-grade drywall banjos directly toward remodeling consumers: Buddy Tools and Homax. Their tools are plastic versions of the more expensive metal tools used by professionals to dispense tape coated with just the right amount of drywall mud.

Homax’s taping tool applies an adjustable amount of mud and tape in a single step, which they claim can save you half the time over doing it without the tool. The lightweight, plastic tool holds up to 500 feet of tape. The Buddy Tools TapeBuddy, also plastic, applies a coat of mud on the tape that is thicker at the center where it’s needed. They claim they are the only company to do so.

Both the Homax Taping tool and the TapeBuddy sell for as little as $35. Are these tools targeted at the consumer market as useful as their metal professional counterparts, or are they a waste of money? Are they Hot or Not?

Tape Buddy [Corporate Site]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Taping Tool [Homax]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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22 Responses to Hot Or Not? Consumer Grade Drywall Banjo

  1. Trey says:

    I’m curious as to how many pros use banjos. I’ve seen guys tape and float without banjos and they are very quick and precise, usually they don’t even need to sand between coats. Anybody use one of these?

  2. DeadGuy says:

    HOT, HOT, HOT. Drywall finishing is my weakest skill. Probably because I dislike it so much. Taping is the worst part for me as well. When I was finishing my basement, I definitely would have purchased one of these. I would bet that a lot of DIYers would want to use one of these if finishing or refinishing a big area.

    I don’t need one now. I’m all done doing major renovations. I can tape by hand the occasional repairs. But this would have been great three years ago.

  3. paganwonder says:

    NOT! A banjo is great for LARGE jobs with many guys on a tape crew- the banjo man can run out a lot of tape while 3-4 guys follow up with the blades. For finishing a basement or garage you can mud and tape all the joints in the amount of time it takes to clean a banjo. You could also rent a banjo for a day and not end up with another Craigslist listing. Taping takes practice and gizmos don’t replace skill gained thru practice.

  4. DeadGuy says:

    paganwonder, I don’t think you fully understand the absolute suckitude of my taping skills (even with three basement jobs of practice), though I do see your point. And, now that Trey mentions it, I’ve never seen any pros use one either.

    However, anything that makes taping easier and look better for a Mr. Ten Thumbs like me has got to be worth something. I can make beautiful wood things, but that runny muddy messy gunk is just beyond me.

    Thankfully, my basement is done. I ended up putting on way more mud than was needed and sanded it off. It looks good, but, again, my drywall suckitude knows no bounds!!

  5. Paul says:

    Just use self sticking fiberglass tape, as a DYIer, I’ll never use paper tape again.

  6. fred says:

    Never seen my taping sub use a banjo on my residential jobs. Have been on some big hi-rise jobs where the rockers were using a Northstar taper:

    http://www.northstartool.com/t_01.html

  7. DDT says:

    Here in Toronto where I live, people use the mesh everywhere but the inside corners. My uncle is a drywaller and he has two tapers (both 65+), and they just have 4 tools – knife, thing to hold the tape, a 16″ trowel and a 5″ trowel – and they are lightning fast!

  8. metis says:

    paul nailed it in one. unless you’re on a crew with enough to keep up with one banjo, it’s not worth it. kinda like the pro-width paint rollers, unless you’re used to a roller that wide, and can keep it wet until it’s tossed hours later, not worth it for anything diy.

    great tool, but only for the right job.

  9. Brau says:

    Noooo!

    All I need is one more product giving me an excuse to believe that I too can do plastering like a pro. I loathe plastering for all the times I’ve started out all gung-ho, believing I know everything I think I should, believing the hardware store fella who said “It’s really easy!!”, failed miserably and been left a broken …. angry … man, wondering if I was the only kid in the world who didn’t play with mud-pies enough.

    Then, sanding out all my mistakes, for days on end, as penance for my cheapskate induced arrogance.

    I will not use this product.

    I will call a pro and be happy to pay him.

  10. RIch says:

    NOT!

    I do my share of taping (repairs/remodeling). I suck at it too. A banjo doesn’t make any easier, it just makes it faster (for a pro). The hard part is feathering.

    I’ve seen the light on a lot of tool purchases, spending money judiciously to save time. This ain’t it, though.

    My favorite “save time” purchase is one of those Harbor Freight multi-tools. I wondered for years what people actually used them for. Then a contractor I hired was showing me his (Harbor Freight no less!), and I asked him, and he said it was basically used where you’d use a chisel. I filed this away for future reference.

    Then, I started laying laminate flooring. I cut two door casings with a chisel, stopped, and drove to Harbor Freight. The next six casings and two door frames were done in the time it took me to do the two casings by hand.

    But if there’s one thing worse for me than taping, it’s got to be cement. Me and concrete/thinset/grout/mortar just don’t seem to get along.

  11. @RIch:

    But if there’s one thing worse for me than taping, it’s got to be cement. Me and concrete/thinset/grout/mortar just don’t seem to get along.

    Me too! Add caulk to that list.

  12. Ron says:

    Lots of pasted comments on how hard it is to tape drywall by hand. I agree. That’s why we started using the TapeBuddy. You don’t need to carry your equipment to the wall or hold it over your head on the ceiling. You just have the mudded tape and a drywall knife. It has made taping the easiest part of drywall finishing. Read the user comments on the website. Handyman testers give it a 93% approval. You should check it out.

  13. Ron says:

    Plastic Tools? How many of you have stainless drywall knives that are rusty? Drywall compound just tends to eat up what it touches. Not so with plastic. TapeBuddy is made of HDPE plastic that can never rust and has a UV stabilizer for long working life. As Bill from Chicago commented:

    “The bottom line is that the $35 I spent on the TapeBuddy was returned a few times over. It saved me about an hour of work and many pounds of frustration.”

    Plastic is light weight and the prefect material for many tools.

  14. Mark says:

    I used the TapeBuddy on my house. I was taping for the first time and heard a lot of horror stories about it, but it seemed pretty easy with the TapeBuddy. I suggested it to anyone no matter what experience level…

  15. juan says:

    banjos work best for pros. i am a professional drywaller and have been in the trade for almost 7 years now and i must say for a complete residential building to be taped quickly a banjo is the way to go for an expert.
    automatic tapers such as the one fred suggested is good for a pro also but if you are a do it yourselfer then a basket to hold your mud pan and tape is easier and faster.
    research it. taping is not as hard as peopke make it out to be.
    hot! is the banjo.
    not! is the taping buddy.
    also look up how to videos but be sure latinos star in them. because we show how to do it fast and easy.

  16. Ron says:

    The new TapeBuddy has been getting great reviews by users. No heavy equipment to work with and just the right amount of drywall mud on the tape. Prefect for flats, corners and ceilings. Guts, you should check out their website to see what people are saying. Most all the comments above are from people that haven’t used the machine. Try it in your next project and then comment. The DIY network program Cool Tools thought is was really cool. Watch it this fall, 2011, for a review. When the tape goes on smooth, the finish work is much easier.

  17. Marko says:

    Tape buddy is harder than banjo because you cannot run a continuous seam like banjo. You have to carry wet tape to the seam….. If your doing a job that small just put mud on the seam and apply tape….. It’s not complicated, it’s drywall tape…

  18. Marko says:

    Tape buddy should make a small banjo good for 1 or two sheets….

  19. Ron says:

    HOT – “TapeBuddy is a professional tool” says Sears tool buyer. National Hardware Show 2012. You should try it.

  20. klhplaster says:

    homax banjo is hot and now hotter with the delko internal attachment. it is the most complete taping package at a bargain price

  21. Peter says:

    I have been taping for over 20 years and when I saw this Homax banjo I picked one up to see how it stands up to my metal Goldblat banjo. The homax banjo is way lighter, an advantage over the metal banjo. It also has a wheel to enbed the tape as you go along and a corner tool is available for corners as well but not necessary! It worked flawlessly from start to finish. Cleaning is a snap as well with a brush and water just like the metal one. Excellent tool for any one novice or pro!!!

  22. Peter says:

    I have been doing drywall for many years, I recently purchased the Homax taping banjo and I have to say I’m glad I did. I works great!! Saved me so much time and effort. It’s a bit messy but well worth it. clean up is a snap, just hose it off and your good to go. Anyone even a novice can use this tool!!! There’s no cut off blade on the tool but a taping spatula works just the same to cut the tape. There’s a video on you tube available to see it in action. You wont be disappointed!!!

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