The Wood Man
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer
Callan Maulsby pursues his passion and craft at Hull Millwork
I’m a woodworker.” That’s what 34-year-old Callan Maulsby says when someone asks what he does for a living. Conversation starter? You bet, although we immediately glance down at his hands to see if he still has all 10 fingers. Even we amateurs realize there is a certain danger when you’re working with power tools.
Maulsby remembers his father building things when he was growing up. It’s something he hopes his 8-year-old son is taking in, too, although right now he’s focused on cardboard boxes and Legos. “I think at that age you absorb stuff you’ll use later on, but I’m really hoping he becomes an engineer,” he says with a smile.
While he planned to study architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington, he realized quickly that he didn’t have the passion for college. Instead, he worked at Simple Things Furniture Company for a while, which could explain his goal for wanting to build furniture, and then joined a North Texas millwork company for two years. When he heard about an opening at Fort Worth-based Hull Millwork (hullmillwork.com), one of the premier architectural millwork shops in the country, he pursued a job there. Owner Brent Hull’s historical restoration and residential construction expertise is widely respected, and Maulsby wanted to learn from the best. He joined the team in 2016.
“Here, you get to collaborate with other woodworkers and be part of a team on some very special projects,” says Maulsby. His co-workers range from artisans who’ve been plying their craft all of their lives to newbies learning if wood is their passion.
Hull’s success led to an expansion to some warehouses outside of Benbrook. The cavernous room where Maulsby works is filled with power tools, workbenches, ongoing projects, stacks of wood and more. Maulsby’s work area is neat and tidy with everything in its place: Small hand tools are rolled up in canvas bags, blueprints are stacked neatly on the table, scrap wood is in an orderly pile. “It can be messy work, but I like an organized workspace,” admits Maulsby.
He says he’s happiest when he’s busy and problem-solving. He sketches out designs, even when blueprints are provided. “I want to make every piece by hand even though there are machines that can do it for you these days.”
Even while the whine of the saws and music from boomboxes fill the room, Maulsby is able to zone in on the task at hand. It’s one of the things he likes about woodworking. “It can be dangerous so you have to concentrate; it’s safety first always. Plus, it’s kind of a mental escape for me,” he says. “It might sound odd, but it’s really possible to be ‘in the moment’ with wood.”
Maulsby is eight years sober and credits woodworking for helping him stay that way. That, and riding mountain bikes, hiking and spending time outdoors. He’s also taken up painting and photography.
When it comes to outside projects, he has built art objects, and he has dabbled with building his own furniture. He plans to pursue it even more as his skill set grows. “I definitely look at doors, windows and cabinets differently than I used to.”