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The Curtis Mitertite

Have you ever said to yourself, “How’d they do that??” I have. Lots of times. And when I found a mysterious casing on a recent job, I said it again. This time, though, it took a little longer than a day or two to figure out how they did it.

I was in the midst of trimming out a recent remodel when one of the guys described a miter joint he’d noticed while doing the demo work. What he described sounded more like a Japanese temple building joint than the conventional miter joint found in your typical American house. I was intrigued. When he found a sample of the joint and showed it to me, I was amazed.

What we were looking at was a true “lock miter.” (Click images to enlarge)
The leg casing was cut square across the top, then rabbeted at a miter, with a deep dado right against the miter. The head casing was mitered and cut with a corresponding dado that locked right over the leg.

Here in my hand was a miter joint that, although obviously made by machine, was pure elegance. I began to imagine the glorious accolades I would receive if I could reproduce that joint. My mind was swimming with thoughts of fame and glory when it gradually dawned on me that making this joint on site was not going to be easy. The tolerances had to be very tight (indicating a dedicated setup), and I would have to be able to do it for right and left miters (indicating two dedicated setups).

If I was going to solve the mystery of this joint, some research was in order.

The casing had a stamp on the back side that said “CURTIS 1866”. So I did a little digging on this company. My own research, along with some catalog pages provided by Brent Hull, confirmed that what we were dealing with was the Curtis Millworks Mitertite Joint. As it turns out, the Mitertite Joint was only one of several innovations Curtis became known for.

Charles Curtis actually started out in the grocery business. In 1866 he and partner W.G. Hemingway bought a controlling interest in a firm which ran a small door and sash factory. By 1868 Charles and his brother George Curtis had bought a controlling interest in the firm, which became known as Curtis Bros. & Co.

When George joined the team, one of his first ideas was the introduction of factory glazed windows. Previously, window sash was produced without glass, and a builder had to glaze the window on site. Pre-glazed windows were a pretty risky venture, but the gamble sure paid off. Today, if a window came to the job site unglazed we would stare at it in disbelief!

Another interesting innovation can be credited to Judson Carpenter, an uncle who became the company’s purchaser. Judson introduced the idea of grading lumber used in the shop. The same principles he introduced at Curtis Bros. are still used in lumber grading today.

As time went on, Curtis Bros. focused on streamlining their manufacturing practices and standardizing production at each of their factories. Steel gauges and templates were employed to ensure a product’s uniformity regardless of where it was manufactured. This uniformity meant that parts were interchangeable and replacement parts were easy to procure.

All of this progress eventually led to the development of the Curtis Silentite window. According to Brent Hull, the Silentite double hung window represented the “first major improvement in double hung wood windows in 300 years….”

These improvements came courtesy of the Curtis research department created in 1925. This same department also came up with a proprietary chemical treatment to help prevent wood decay. It was here that the Curtis Mitertite interlocking miter joint was born.

As you can see from the drawings below, this joint locks together tightly and requires no glue. The sample I have has no glue in it at all, and it looks great—tight when closed. In fact, the miter joints we found in the house I was remodeling have not opened in 60 years.

From the top, you can see the dado joint.
But from the face the miter can’t open, even without glue.
The rabbet and dado lock the miter together.  The Curtis Mitertite might be the perfect joint for dramatic humidity swings, if we could just figure out a way to cut it that meets OSHA requirements!

I would really like to recreate this joint myself. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any documentation describing the process used to manufacture it. Curtis was undoubtedly one of the most innovative woodworking companies in history, but either they kept their trade secrets close to the chest, or they have simply been lost in the dustbin of time.

Fortunately for us, this is exactly what a magazine like THISisCarpentry is all about, right?

I’d love to hear suggestions and comments about how this joint could be reproduced on site, or in a modestly equipped shop. Preferably with one setup producing both left and right miters.

So, what are your ideas, fellow carpenters? Can we come up with a way to recreate this joint?

Don’t forget to check out the follow-up article, “Homemade MiterTite Joinery“—an attempt to answer the question about the feasibility of making this joint in the field.


• • •


Dave Parker has worked in the building trades for most of his career, with a focus on trim carpentry and architectural woodworking. At work he enjoys nothing more than a technically challenging project. At home he enjoys time spent with his family at the beach or in the snow. A graduate of The College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking program, he currently produces millwork and high end furniture from his shop in southeast Michigan.


70 Responses to “The Curtis Mitertite”

  1. Chad Faircloth

    Why couldn’t you make up (2) separate router templates, (1) for the each opposing piece of casing? You could make the jigs square with the openings for the dados at 45 degree angles to accept a router with bushing. Make the jig with positive stops at 90 degress to one another to accept the casing, clamp it in place on the square ends of the casing and rout the dados. It would take some accurate setup initially but I would think once the jigs were made you could replicate this joint pretty quickly.

    Chad Faircloth

  2. Parks

    Cost effective? No. But I dont see why I couldnt make a jig to do just that. A “two handed” jig to make right and left joints seems easy enough to me. I love puzzles like this. Especially old ones of this sort.
    In fact, I’m gonna mess around in the shop this weekend and see what I can come up with.
    Of course, with the myriad of trim sizes, shapes, and thicknesses out today you would have to have a bunch of these for different jobs.
    But anyway, It looks like fun.

  3. David Collins

    That’s pretty amazing! When we researched the word and name Mitertite as a trademark for our own product, it didn’t show up anywhere except some cave in Hawaii.
    That joint looks like it was done on a table saw. Probably some kind of a sled with 45 and 90 degree fences. The operator would have to be an expert at setting things up, especially depth.

    • dave parker

      I didn’t know the name of the joint until after my research was done, but you’re right. If you search Mitertite you’ll only get Collins Tool. And some cave…

      • Dean Whitaker

        Dave…..Kinda off this direct subject and not sure if you’ll get this post or not since the original was so long ago, however….
        I am trying to find out more about the Curtis company, specifically their window offerings.
        I have a casement style window that I just took from a 1920’s era home which has the Curtis trademark stamped on the outside of the window casing.
        Any suggestions you could offer to find out more about this window would be greatly appreciated.
        The crank mechanism is QUITE unique and I’d really like to find out more about this window.


        • Curt


          My 1940 Indiana cape cod has its original Curtis windows. A window restoration company told me the quality of the wood used for my windows could not be replicated today. I think Curtis was located in Iowa.

  4. BADB

    I would think you could set up a radial arm saw with a dado cutter head and simply have two depth setting premarked on the saw. You would probably have to cut all the casing to length first and then cut in the Mitertite joints.

    • Steve Jackson

      I agree with BADB completely. This looks like a radial arm job, no doubt. I would fashion a set of 45 degree jigs to hold the trim in place and never touch the saw angle setup. Adjust the depth of the saw and let the jigs do the rest. If I had a radial arm saw in my shop, I would give it a try.

      • Dave Parker

        I tend to think it was specially made tooling that Curtis came up with-dedicated to this use. It probably referenced off the end of a length of casing (the visual long point) and was very quick to complete. I see it being done in three operations at best- and the radial arm always seems to be a key component. The problem is that radial arms are known for being pretty fussy to keep precisely set up. That could be overcome however.

        One thing that should be pointed out is that the dado cutters used were pretty small in diameter to get as deep as needed for as long a cut as possible. I wishi could pass around the actual sample. Then everyone could see the actual tooling marks…

  5. Michael Smith

    Real nice joint,, but I have enough trouble just making a half lap miter joint.. nice work though..

  6. John Chinn, owner of III Nails Carpentry, Richmond VA

    While a fascinating piece of craftsmanship, we all have to accept that with today’s adhesives & fastening tools (which I’m sure they would have had a “carpentergasim” over back then) used properly, we really do have the best methods available. But, there is something to be said for staying up in the shop till 2 AM trying to figure out how to replicate an old school method!

  7. trimcat

    something like this would never get done today on a jobsite. too much time and time is money. in a production setting id be expected to hang and trim roughly 15 doors a day, probably 12 windows with building and setting jamb extensions

    a few years back on one job we biscuit jointed all our mitres and pre-glued up all the casing before nailing it to the jamb however this was on the gc’s house and he wanted to try it. even this slowed us down quite a bit

    • Dave Parker

      While it’s true that it would be a time consuming joint to duplicate I do think it’s worth exploring ways to improve our finished results. The miter joint is a source of frustration and potential embarrassment. (I think most of us have had at least one miter joint open up on us in our careers.) I know I want to do what I can to avoid too many failures. THAT could cost more time and money!

      John is right- our adhesives and understanding of wood movement itself really give us an advantage that was not availible to carpenters in the past. I’m not sure biscuits have proven to be as useful as hoped but that is another conversation.

      Over the next couple months I’ll have the oportunity to check out a system developed by Collins Tools that quite by coincidence is also called The Mitertite. This system really looks to be well thought out. I have just the project coming up to give it a good workout. It may prove to be the next step in ensuring the longevity of the miter joint. I’ll let you know what the results are in an upcoming article.

    • Dixon Peer

      We always biscuit and glue all miter joints. Sometimes, clamp nails come into play too. I remember my father speaking of Curtis Millwork back in the fifties and sixties. They also had an innovative way of doing panels in their doors that shed water from the bottom rail. Somehow the bottom of the panel fit over a tongue in the bottom rail, instead of the other way around. Pretty neat. How about trying to duplicate that?

  8. Greg DiBernardo

    I bet a company like WindsorOne could figure this out (wink, wink).

    Who wouldn’t buy moldings precut like this if given the choice. I know I would.

  9. Raymond T, McConnell

    If you guys figure this out e-mail me and I will buy one. I will charge by the hour. I love it. Thanks Raymond T. McConnell Inc. General Contractor. This is perfect for stain work.

  10. Paul Comi

    If it locks together without glue, I suspect its actually a sliding dovetail with a very gradual angle to it. What I see is a combination of processes one being the mitered half lap cut and another being the sliding dovetail male and female sides. If I had a factory making windows and precased doors I’d consider it, but seems like a lot of trouble to go to as a finish carpenter to trim a home. Plus, the side of the casing is going to be half lapped at the top corners which people may not like.

    • dave parker

      It’s not a sliding dovetail. The square cut on the head piece limits the slip and acts to lock it together. It can be taken apart easily enough but you could have the joint preassembled and carefully carry it over to the jamb. The lap joint is visible from the top of the head casing. I don’t think it’s too unsightly.

      You touch on an important point though. When Curtis was making this type trim they were also making doors and windows at the same time. This pre-cut casing was cut, packaged and shipped to specifically match the windows/ jambs that were ordered.

  11. Joe Dokes

    While this is not exactly the same, lamello makes a nifty self clamping biscuit joint. Unlike standard biscuits they don’t need to be clamped until the glue dries. As a result they can be be used to make a face frame very quickly.

    I used them to make a face frame for a entertainment center I build in my living room. The joints turned out perfect, tight doesn’t begin to describe the finished product.

    You can check out this product in action here:

    I know this is beginning to sound like a commercial, but the things do work. The only downside is they are a bit pricey at about 50 cents each, so on a big project they can add up. I ended up using about 150 of the the things on a rather 13′ X 8′ face frame, I used two biscuits on most joints, I probably could have gotten away with one.


    Joe Dokes

    • Ward

      Very cool, Looks too good to be true, yet i accept that it may be. I gotta try it with my Fireplace frames and maybe the inside first mitered course on my floor borders. . .


  12. Craig Brewster

    CMT makes a joinery system that uses dovetail keys. It is fast to cut and can hold joints together. It is called Enlock.

  13. Kirby Dolak, Owner of Architecural Woodworks

    Dave, How many pages is the book/brochure that you scanned the images from? Any possibility of scanning the rest of the pages and keeping them on Gary’s website?

    Thank-you for sharing the discovery rather than it being lost in history.

    • dave parker

      These were copies of pages that Brent Hull provided for the article. So I would have to re-direct your question to Gary and Brent. I am pleased to have had a forum to share this little discovery. So my thanks goes to Gary and his team at TIC.

      It would be a shame to see this lost to history. The thought has crossed my mind a few times how very close this DID come to being lost. My research efforts resulted in one single document (aside from Brent’s catalog pages). For a company that closed its doors in 1966- when the internet was science fiction-it seems amazing to me that any record exists about it online.

      Keep the comments coming in! It’s great to be in such great company!

      • Dori Conlin

        Just scored a beautiful frame (approx 3′ x 2.5′) in a fav thrift shop, and now I know it was done / made by Curtis Millwork (debossed mark on back, on two pieces, with “Curtis 1866”) Now I just have to determine the date made – – – at least I know it was after 1925… Thanks for your research! Hard to find info on Google without the proper key words. Curtis 1866 frame did nothing but give me advertising. You have put them back on the map, and they deserve it. Thank you. The finish on the frame is amazing, the color rich, the joinery lovely with tacking on the back to stabilize since it is free hanging joinery. Thanks Dave (and Brett)

  14. Cliff

    What if a jig was made with 3 seperate slots in it and they were set at a different depth. You would need 3 slots for the right and 3 for the left. These would have to be set at a 45* and be just wide enough for the trim to slide into them. There would also need to have a stop near the saw so the molding would stop at a different distance for each so you get the 3 seperate cuts. This could probably be done on a crosscut sled and a tablesaw with a dado head or on a radial arm saw with a dado head

    • dave parker

      Sounds interesting. Give it a try and post some photos…

  15. David Bailey

    About 6 years ago now I was working on one of those few houses you take apart and marvel at the craftsmanship and materials used in its construction. While replacing the windows in this house I came across the Curtis Miter. I, like you, kept a sample to replicate, stuck it in that overhead bin above my workbench, and promptly forgot about it till I read your article. I’ve attached some pictures of my sample. I’m able to replicate it in the shop but have not come up with an expeditious way of creating it on site. Perhaps now that you have piqued my curiosity again I will. Thanks for the article.
    [img] 1866 Miter-1-2.jpg[/img]
    [img] 1866 Miter-2-1.jpg[/img]
    [img] 1866 Miter-3-1.jpg[/img]
    [img] 1866 Miter-4.jpg[/img]
    [img] 1866 Miter-7.jpg[/img]
    [img] 1866 Miter-12.jpg[/img]

  16. dave parker

    Nice Photos David. It’s a thing of beauty isn’t it? What strikes me is there is no glue residue-nor is there a nail through the joint. I’d love to see one in stain grade mode.

  17. Bill

    Very cool joint and very creative. Although this joint looks pretty straight forward for a millshop you might be amazed at the some of the operations tools from yesteryear could make, most sashes were not only mortised {mortising machine} profiled {sticker} tenoned (tennoner single or double) they were frenched and relished {litle holes to let water out} and a host of other machines dedicated and built specifically to complete other operations. As for radial arm saw not being accurate the saws used in millshop would likely be a unipoint radial arm saw extremely accurate {still used in many production shops today) or a large dewalt style. Talk to the guys over at old woodworking machine ( they are a wealth of knowlodge and are always willing to help. Great find thanks for sharing goes to show “the more I see the less I know” bill

  18. Gary Irwin

    My guess would be overhead routers were used to manufacture these joints.

  19. Jeff Burks

    Your research department is slacking again.

    Sern Madsen was the chief engineer of the Curtis Co., of Clinton, Iowa. He was granted 25 patents during the 1924-1937 period, all of which were assigned to Curtis Co.

    US Patent 1,940,000 – Granted Dec 19 1933 – Miter Joint: is the patent which became marketed as the Curtis Mitertite. The 1866 date is the Company founding, and has nothing to do with the miter joinery in question.

    Ironically his earlier patent 1,700,683 (1929) Double End Universal Saw was a Do-it-all millwork contraption that was able to (among many tasks) cut the slots to receive miter keys aka clamp nails. Remember those?

    You can of course look these patents up and see the pretty drawings:
    or if you like easymode

    • Gary Katz

      So good to hear from you! And to have you respond to this story, too. Of course you’d be the one to dig up that patent. Yes. The research department at TiC is terrible! But think of what a great opening that is for YOU! You’d be perfect. I can’t believe that machine. I wish I could figure out how it works. Why don’t you do a Sketchup drawing and animate it! :) I’M JUST KIDDING!

    • dave parker

      Nice work Jeff! That’s the type information I was hoping someone might come up with. I think you should consider Gary’s offer.

      That machine is amazing! Pretty much what I had envisioned…


  20. Jeff Burks

    Madsen’s machine sounds like depression era job security. How could they give him a pink slip if he was the only one who knew how to run that contraption? I bet he had a lot of time to tinker with it too.

    It would be interesting to find out if they ever produced the more complex tapered or undercut “locking” version of the joint noted in the patent text. Consider how far precision milling had to come for standard molding stock before joints like this were even practical to attempt in a production setting.

    Curtis is an interesting company. They were one of the major players in the drive to create Standardized Woodwork during the 1920’s. They had their entire product line reevaluated in collaboration with the NY architectural firm Trowbridge & Ackerman. There are a lot of old documents, advertisements, articles and transcripts for Curtis available through Google Books.

    On a related note-
    You may also be interested in: 2,083,354
    John G. Whittier’s 1937 Patent Joint
    Looks like a LEGO miter.

  21. Jeff Burks

    One more similar to Madsen’s:
    Anthony Mainieri’s 1939 Miter Joint

  22. Svend Peulicke

    I was very intrigued when I first read this article and I believe that the question posed “can this joint be easily reproduced in the field” should be answered with a definite Yes.

    I’m new to this group so let me give you some background. I’m a mostly retired general contractor in the California Desert, I’m a woodworker but I also have an interest in metal working and I’m a “Home Shop Machinist”. I have been contracting since 1975 and since 1996 I have been building very high end custom homes. While I did not do the trim work on these project I had many occasions to build custom templates, for my finish subs, to accommodate artisan made custom hardware and (excuse the expression) to idiot proof certain procedures.

    With that said, I decided to prototype some jigs to replicate the joint, the attached pictures show the results.

    I built two boxes to receive 8×8 templates milled from 1/4″ black melamine. The templates were made with openings for two operations on both the leg and the head. The templates would be flipped for the opposite hand and rotated 180 degrees for the second operation.

    After completing the project I now believe that each operation should have its own template since space restraints require the the work piece to be relocated for the second cut, wasting time and inviting errors. Replacing a template only takes seconds.

    I used a plunge router with three settings, one for the main cut on the leg, one 3/16″ higher and one 3/16″ lower for the second operations to adjust the height of the pin and the depth of the dado. After that you just have to adjust the main setting for the head. The main settings will vary with the type of casing being cut.

    The initial setup took some time, but the actual cutting of the joint was very quick. I had some problems with the flexing of the templates resulting in a 0.015″ belly in the miter on the leg. Actual templates should be made of rigid materials or the router base plate should be big enough to be supported by the edges of the box.

    I’m afraid I’m running long here, feel free to edit.

    • Dave Parker

      This sounds interesting! Would it be possible to post photos?

      • Svend Peulicke

        I thought I did Dave but I guess they didn’t go through I will try again.

        • Jamie Patterson


          That is very impressive. I enjoy the final look of the product. Would there be any way you’d be willing to share drawings with everyone to reproduce that?

          If I were you, I might not and I might just go and patent that. Very nicely done sir.


        • dave parker

          I would like to second everything Jamie said! Very nice jig. If you’re not headed to the patent office I would love to see you share drawings…

  23. Rob Johnson

    I like this article. My immediate thought was Festool MFT and Router on a rail guide. This way the joint is not restricted to 45° angles,(Jigs not required) set up would be fast and accurately repeatable. Sadly I don’t yet own an MFT so cannot demonstrate my thinking. In 27 years as a carpenter/joiner in the U.K. I have never seen a joint like this one, the most common way with architraves is to mitre, glue and nail down from the head piece to the leg! On rare occasions they might get a biscuit joint.
    Regards Rob.

  24. Svend Peulicke

    Thank you all for the kind comments.

    Judging from the earlier posts to this article, I don’t think that the demand would be there to justify the expense of a patent search and application. I’m no expert on that, so if my thinking is wrong, please enlighten me.

    I would entertain the notion of sharing drawings on a limited basis, but the following should be considered. The drawings would be revised to make separate templates for the second cut on each piece so the work once placed in the jig would not have to be moved. That would make 2 templates and a receiver plate that should be CNC cut for each setup. The templates would be flipped to make the opposite hand joint.

    The boxes with the stops and holddowns would be shop made to accomodate the type of casing to be cut, especially the for the header piece since it is cut face down and would have to be supported so the back is level.

    If you can let me know who are interested as well as the casing size and thickness that should be accomodated I will see what can be done, maybe we could ask Bill Bode with his CNC router to cut the first one so we could check it for any adjustments that may be needed. I could supply him with DXF files that could be imported into his CAM program.

    • dave parker

      I would certainly be interested in Tips for producing templates- I’m not sure it would be feasible to have the templates CNC machined since we’d need a separate template for each molding we encountered. I really like your efforts though. If there were enough interested parties I’d be gladly among them.

      I think I was most intrigued by your template and the details of your construction of them. And maybe a step by step…

      • Svend Peulicke

        Dave, you would not need a different template for each molding. As I set up my prototype it would handle molding from 2-1/2″ to 5-1/2″ wide and up to 7/8″ thick. That’s why I asked what size of molding you usually handle, this can be sized to just about anything you want.

        The templates have to be very accurate to give you consistent results and they have to fit tight in the jig.
        If I produce drawings, anyone with a CNC router will be able to cut templates out of 1/4″ Melamine and the receiver out of 1/2″ Melamine.

        So a setup with two boxes, one for the legs and one for the heads would take would take two templates and one receiver for each box. Not unreasonable if we can get a few guys together.

        I milled mine on my Mill/Drill, unfortunately the capacity of my mill is not large enough to do the milling in one setup which is a must.

        I will try to do some drawings over the weekend to illustrate what I’m talking about. I’m not that proficient in Sketchup but I’ll see what I can do.

        • Gary Katz

          You should write a follow-up story on this joint, using your drawings and photos, so we can have comprehensive instructions in one spot. Email me. Let’s make that happen!

          • Dave Parker

            Yes -I agree. That would be perfect!

  25. Kirby Dolak, Owner of Architecural Woodworks

    Are there any followers of this thread close to the University of Iowa? They have an archived copies of many company documents from Curtis Bros. They include:

    Curtis, Bro.& Co. Doors, Sash, Blinds. Rand McNally Co., Printers. February 1873, Catalogue of Prices

    “The Evolution of Modern Architectural Woodwork, A History of the Curtis Companies, Incorporated, from the Founding in 1886 to the 75th Anniversary in 1941.” Ditto. 61p.

    Preliminary notes and memoranda on “The Evolution of Modern Architectural Woodwork.”

    When I contacted the University library they stated that the material I was interested in was in two boxes but “The two boxes described in the inventory are only a small portion of the collection, which is mostly comprised of ledger books. I believe these ledger books are mostly made up of financial information, but there may be other topics here too. There are 60 linear feet of ledger books, so my looking through them for you is out of the question. Therefore, the best option is for you to come here…”

    So hence my question, is anyone local and could do a road trip? It would be an interesting trip down memory lane.

    Let me know and I’ll forward my emails from the library contact.

    • Dean Whitaker


      Did you ever make the trek to Iowa? I recently acquired a casement window that has the Curtis trademark on the outside of the posting.
      This is an interesting window for multiple reasons. I am very interested to find out anything available regarding the Curtis product line in the late 20’s
      If you have any available information, the assistance would be appreciated in finding more about this company & everything they offered.
      Please let me know at your convenience.

  26. Michael C. Borg

    The original joints look they were made with a radial arm saw and a dado blade. With that in mind they would not be hard to make on the job site.

  27. Kyle Hepp

    A radial arm saw COULD do this, of course, so could many different machines and even hand tools. when I look at that joint, it screams out “End Tenoner”

    and I think that would be the right choie for most production attempts at something like this.

    I am most interested in this, but I would like to see some head to head comparisons between a freeshly cut reproduction of this joint, vs a Domino assembled joint vs a collins Mitertite assembled joint vs a biscuited and Clam Clmped joint. all are totally solid joints, but one must be SUPERIOR and also, there will be one which is the most sensible to use for various applications…
    If I could borrow a Collins Mitertite system and a pair of Clam Clamps, i would be willing to provide the trim and the time to do a photo and video documented shootout between these to find the ULTIMATE miterjoint. What is the Ultimate Miter Joint here in almost 2012? I suppose we really don’t know the answer to that, now, do we?

    what a great find! thanks for sharing!

  28. Rebecca

    I just found a brass button in the basement of my old house that is stamped with Curtis 1866. It has threads like it screws onto something and two small tips – like it dug into something (wooden). Must have been a window.. or a tool. I have no real point here except that found your site trying to figure out what this button is.

  29. markthecarp

    I’ve just been demo’ing some of these in a 1940 house in Winston-Salem. We are demo’ing after a second floor fire.

    Since the windows are Curtis Silentite and the door trim has the Mitertite joint I think it’s safe to assume the doors are also Curtis Woodworks products. This house has a bit of history, a bit more than just cutting edge technology for it’s day. The house was built by or for Hampton Haith. Hampton had a sister named Ella; she married this guy named Robert Clifton Weaver.

    I’ve found receipts from 1940 in the attic. Sadly they didn’t put the prices on the receipts.

  30. Joel

    I have the 374 page hard cover 1966 Curtis Book. This book was put out by the compliments of the Curtis Companies. Called “Woodwork” The Permanent Furniture for Your Home. This book has amazing amounts of pictured details of all the different wood trim, windows, doors. buffets and stained glass windows available in the late 1800s into the 20th Century. All the prices are in this book also, I am sure it was for the builder. My home has this type of woodwork and it is Beautiful indeed. Wish there was a way to share it with all those who are interested.

  31. Chris

    My grandfather built the house I’m living in 60 years ago. I’m just redoing some of the moldings around the doors and found Curtis moldings. I am trying to figure out a way to salvage some of the good moldings that came off but sanding it down to the original molding is proving to be more painful than I thought. I did have a friend who does woodworking order a blade that duplicates my moldings but making them lock at the corners is one task that was beyond his abilities. I would love to get my hands on the book my grandfather ordered the wood from. Also, would you know if Curtis was only one mill in the country and shipped to stores around America? Or did Curtis have mills throughout the country?

  32. Brad g

    I was on a job about six months ago in short hills, nj and found this joint on all of the door casings. It was for almost the exact same profile also but there were only three humps. Me and my lead carpenter were amazed by the joint system and how well it held up.
    Thank you for this info it is great to have an answer to a question me and my LC have been wondering for months about.

  33. Colleen wilson

    My sister just bought a house that has a drawer that is unique. With three dividers. It says Curtis 1866′

  34. Patty Shaffer

    I bought the home my mother and father built,I heard them talk about the windows there -Curtis, they cranked out. Today I took old baseboards off to sand them down some and repaint them but as I was sanding them off, I got down to the original color that matched the beautiful hardwood floors. And on the back of the bboard it said Curtis Co. 1866 then down a little further it was stamped 7-57 witch was July of 1957.They are still beautiful, I stripped them, cleaned them and am ready to polyurethane them, so glad I didn’t buy those cheap looking ones now.

  35. Ron G

    I’m from Clinton, Ia. and home to the former Curtis Brothers. I grew up about a block from the Curtis family and went to school with the great, great grandson of the founders. His name was Judson (Jud) and was named after his uncle.
    I remember the Curtis company well and also recall the sad day in the community when it was announced that the company would close. The closing was partially the result of the Mississippi river flood of 1965, when the factory was damaged and millions of dollars in damaged to inventory and raw materials.
    The main factory was huge and was three stories high. In all, the property was about two city blocks long and the outside storage yards was like a maze walking through the isles of lumber stacked thirty feet high.
    As a young teenager, myself and other kids would help unload boxcars of lumber on Saturday’s for a $1.50 an hour. Good money in the late 50’s & early 60’s.
    Now to the miter joint that started this article. I grew up in the foot steps of my father who was a carpenter. Just to be clear, I never installed one of these precut cut miters but I have seen dozens of them. Many of these miters were used on precut trim that could be ordered with their windows and doors as an option.
    Today, only a small remnant of the Curtis company still stands and is occupied by a wholesaler. Also, the home of George Curtis still stands along with the carriage house. The house still looks the same with one exception since it was built. The home belongs to the American Business Women (ABW) and they are great stewards. The home is open for tours and host weddings and other private parties.
    In closing, my friend Jud and his sister still survive and make occasional appearances at the mansion and shares their memories of their famous family. Thank you for this great site and the many contributors. Ron

  36. George M. Curtis III

    This article just came to hand. I have wiped the tears away. Named after my father and great grandfather, growing up in Clinton I was the one who some said had “sawdust in his veins.” Started in 1951 working in the factory at 16 tailing molders. This article and these comments are a great gift to me in part because they confirm what I have believed all these years–that what we were doing in that Clinton factory, and others, was more than good. It was bringing fine millwork to people for a reasonable cost. I wish that you folks could have seen the people in the factory and in the office during the early fifties when I started. The people and the material objects and the technology all joined. And I never met anyone in the factory that did not know it with a precision and a passion I have since come to believe was very special. At 7:30 in the morning you clocked in the first thing that hit you was the strong smell, the scent of Ponderosa. At 84 I miss that smell, that world more than words will ever say. Those people did very good works. How I have wished that it might have been sustained. Best to you all. G. M. Curtis III

    • Anonymous

      I grew up in the carriage house on hillcrest by the twin mansions. Silentite windows in my folks house in Leawood Kansas.

  37. Gregg Agoston

    I am helping my son-in-law refurbish the windows in the house that they recently bought. All the trim work and windows are Curtis. The house was custom when it was built in the early 40’s. All the windows are Curtis Silentite. The windows are solid and still in very good condition. We are stripping them down, glazing and painting them. I am looking for a source for the original molding if any one has one. PS all the molding joints are the ones described here. My e-mail is Thanks and great article.

  38. CT homeowner

    I live in a 1950s cape in CT and I love my original windows. I finally googled “silentite” and found these comments. My husband always wanted to replace them with new, vinyl windows and I’m glad we never did and now we’re divorced so my windows are safe! I don’t know much about carpentry but these are exceptionally made, even to a layperson’s eyes. They are still in perfect and functional condition and nothing can replace their quality. Thanks Mr Curtis. They’re not just windows but represent innovation, perfection, and endurance ❤️.

  39. Elle Clark

    I have two of his base kitchen cabinets…one has a door that drops down and you reach in and pull on a wooden piece and out comes a hinged table… it’s very sturdy and all wood slides…double doors and each side has a heavy metal wire shelf that slides out between wood guides. The other one has a metal bread box and two drawers and doubke doors wurh the heavy metal wire shelves…Found them in my 94 yo, MILS house, both are stand alone…now im wondering if all her cabinets might be made by his company, because there are all made with wood glides and drawers go all the way to the back.

  40. Ian Lloyd

    I have a 1966 Curtis looseleaf catalogue that shows the Mitretite . They also use Sealtite to describe their windows.
    I am interested in rehoming the catalogue. Over 108 pages. B&W pics, and scale and full size drawings of their offerings. I understand 1966 was their last year of operation.


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