Drywallers usually try to hang as much drywall as they can, as fast as they can. After more than 20 years of fast-paced production work, though, I wanted to work smarter, not harder. Instead of worrying that anything that slowed the job down would end up costing money, I began to realize that smaller, more complicated jobs could actually be more profitable, as well as less physically demanding.

At about the same time that I was having these thoughts, drywall tools, materials, and techniques began to change. Twenty years ago, for example, my supplier carried only one type of corner bead; now, ordering corner bead can be more complicated than ordering a cup of coffee at one of those specialty shops. But that’s okay, because I’ve made...

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