And His Hair Was Perfect
This video is labeled “Drywall installation in 1950.” It isn’t.
I don’t doubt it’s from around 1950. But the material he’s applying to the wall studs isn’t drywall. Drywall is a gypsum sandwich with a paper face on both sides. You apply it to the studs with screws, nowadays, and then you cover the seams with drywall “mud” and reinforcing tape. The face of the panels is paintable. The sheets of drywall are bigger than this, too, usually 4×8 feet, or larger on commercial jobs.
The very able fellow in the video is hanging some form of rock lath. It was invented to supersede wooden lath and plaster walls. Lath and plaster was a series of thin strips of wood spaced about 1/4″ apart on the wall. You’d sort of smoosh the plaster through the gaps when skimming over the lath to lock it in.
You’d install rock lath like this stuff in the video, and then spread veneer plaster, usually in multiple coats, over the whole surface. The back of the board had holes in it. You could use that side as a face as well. the plaster scratch coat would “key” into the holes like old-fashioned plaster and lath used to.Some builders, especially in the Northeast, still build houses with veneer plaster instead of drywall and tape. They don’t use rock lath for a backer, though. It’s long since been replaced by something generally referred to as “blueboard.” It’s basically drywall with a more durable paper face that can take all the water that veneer plaster carries when it’s applied.
Later on in the video, super dude using expanded metal as a reinforcement in the corners. In some wet rooms like bathrooms, that stuff would get nailed over the whole surface, to make a more durable substrate for tile, etc. Try tearing some out in a remodel, if you’re curious just how durable the stuff is. Bring friends.
By the way, the tool he’s using isn’t a hatchet. It’s still for sale everywhere. It’s called a drywall hammer now.