Random Lengths to 16 Feet

There are a few buildings from the early 1970’s in upstate New York where you may still be able to see running trim in uniform 8 ft. lengths. This was a brief aberration from the standard for running trim, which is “random lengths to 16 feet”. I had been working briefly as a lister for a millwork subcontractor. The lister makes out the mill orders, including cuts and finishes to rough stock. At that time, based on limited architectural background and some fence-building experience with my dad, I thought the ideal length for anything made of wood was 8 feet, and, if it didn’t come that length, it was our responsibility to make it that length. As a result, the parts that were milled under my listing orders were typically delivered to the construction site in uniform 8 ft. lengths…until I got the call. One day the boss called from a high school construction site, and he asked me why the running trim was all delivered in 8 ft. lengths. He said the contractor’s superintendent was upset about that and wanted it the regular way: “random lengths to 16 feet”. Once I understood the problem, I also realized there were about 4 other projects that would be making the same call.

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