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Articles by Brent Hull

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Building a Timeless House in an Instant Age, Part II

The birth of standardization

Our stop in Clinton wasn’t just about the changes in the millwork industry due to advances in technology. It was really a study of the consequences (often unseen) that resulted from leaps in technology. The technological leap that took place in Clinton, Iowa in 1870 was ultimately the result of the Industrial Revolution. Other leaps for homes occurred as power tools came on the job, and these leaps continue today as computer controlled machines (CNC) take over our shops and mills. It is a strange and ironic fact that an increased level of technology and the increase use of technology in building does not necessarily lead to higher quality or more beautiful homes. Read the full article…

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Building a Timeless House in an Instant Age, Part I

The birth of the hammer

Our story begins in Chicago. Though the hammer was not invented here, it is where the current use of the hammer was born. Up until the early 1800s, if you were going to build a house or a building, you did so with large timbers that were cut and fitted together like a large, well-made chair. Using mortise and tenon joints, along with pegs, large timbers—6 or 8 in. across—were cut and fit together yielding a house of mass and strength. All houses and buildings of wood, pre-1830/40, were built with timbers; they were all timber-framed. Read the full article…

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The Magical Entablature

This article is a follow-up to “The Misused & Confused Chair Rail“, which I wrote for TiC a couple of years ago. It generated a lot of positive and negative feedback, and hopefully it challenged your ideas of how to use a chair rail. That article also led to many questions about other trim elements. One question that continues to come up concerns how to build mantels. Read the full article…

The Misused & Confused Chair Rail

How high should we install chair rail? Ask most carpenters and they’ll either say 36 in., 32 in. or they’ll measure the back of a chair and tell you to lay it out so the chair won’t scar the wall. Well, I’m sorry to say, that unless your ceilings are 16-ft. tall, 36 in. is way too high for the chair rail; and letting the back of the chair set the chair rail height is like letting the size of a rug decide the size of a room. In most cases, it just doesn’t work! Read the full article…

Terminating Versus Supporting Moldings

If I were to say: “Hi are how you? Brent I’m Hull.” You might wonder what I drank for breakfast. I mean, you’d recognize the words, they’d sound familiar, but the way I used them wouldn’t make any sense. But if I said: “Hi, how are you? I’m Brent Hull,” you’d respond without a hitch, my words would make perfect sense (depending on what you drank for breakfast!).

Well guess what? There is a language to classical design, too; a vocabulary that’s dependent on moldings for communicating purpose in a room. If you speak the language, all your finish work—your, bookcases, mantelpieces, doorways, and ceilings―will communicate fluently with your customers. Read the full article…