The Difference: Casework Shop Drawings and Millwork Shop Drawings

We sometimes hear the terms millwork and casework thrown around as though they mean the same thing. Sometimes folks make it seem like they’re interchangeable, other times the situation lacks enough context to understand what exactly the difference is. So, let’s break it down. What are millwork and casework shop drawings? How are they different, and what should new drafters know about them? 


Casework Shop Drawings

Casework shop drawings reflect the more utilitarian of the two projects. They outline the structure of common organizational elements, like shelving, cabinets, and drawers, while often reducing them to only the functional parts. Although the shop drawings are drafted and customized to the project, these designs will often be used like blueprints to manufacture multiple iterations of the original design, as in mass production. For this reason, precision is key; when one small mistake is replicated over and over, it can become quite costly. What’s more, a lack of accuracy might also impair the function of the design, and since the function is the main event when it comes to casework, that’s not acceptable. Since the end goal of this project is often affordability and ease of use, these drawings are often particularly helpful in situations where some assembly is required of less experienced end-users.


Millwork Shop Drawings 

Millwork shop drawings reflect the more artistic of the two projects. Since the same structures are being drawn out, (ie. cabinetry, shelving, storage), these drawings have the same functional requirements of their casework siblings; however, there is a key difference to the end-user and need of these projects. While the shop drawings are made to custom dimensions either way, millwork drawings are designed to fit a specific space and structure, like a wall of built-in bookcases or a grand stairway. This means the project is only meant to be executed once, in a particular place. As such, these projects are often more ornate and decorative than the streamlined casework projects.


Which Is More Expensive?

When it comes to shop drawings, there are too many variables for there to be a clean answer to this question. Although the casework projects are less custom, they still require custom shop drawings, so there’s no cost savings strictly as a result of their nature. The project scope, timeline, and materials are often the determining factors for cost.


Getting Started as a Drafter 

These differences can be confusing when they aren’t explained directly, but as you can see, they’re not that difficult to understand. Where casework projects will be more utilitarian in design, millwork projects will have a touch more accent and flair and are customized to specific spaces. This distinction lets drafters know what kind of drawings are required and how they’re likely to be used. 
Of course, this is just one example of the nuanced knowledge of shop drawing. Looking to get started as a drafter? Checkout some of our resources to make your way.  Ready to bid on projects? Create your account today.