Casework: A Guide for Design Professionals

Casework: A Guide for Design Professionals

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Casework, as we’re discussing it in this article, refers either to the separate parts a cabinet or case is made up of, or to the techniques used to build a cabinet or case.

While residential or commercial users of a building may not see or understand the skill and technique that goes into casework as it’s hidden by the very nature of the cabinetry, a well-constructed piece will still adhere to wood casework aesthetics.


Wood Casework Aesthetics

It’s important for design professionals to adhere to the Architectural Woodwork Standards for aesthetics in cabinet casework for various reasons.

  • Design professionals’ drawings include the information necessary to create a better built product
  • The end result is more likely to meet or exceed client expectations
  • The three classifications of grades for casework (economy, custom, and premium) in the AWI standards mean you can ensure you’ll get the standard you have specified

As Bob Borson says in his excellent blog, Life of an Architect:

“I am a big fan of using and referencing AWI standards; it makes sure that the millwork shop that is pricing or building our cabinets knows exactly to which standard they will be held.”


The AWI Casework Types

There are three categories of AWI casework which are based on the exterior exposed face:

  • Wood casework, with wood faces for a transparent or opaque finish
  • Decorative laminate casework, with HPDL or LPDL faces
  • Solid phenolic casework, with solid phenolic faces


How Design Professionals Can Ensure Projects Are Built As Expected

There is a certain amount of effort required of a design professional in the detail and execution of their drawings. A high level of detail, accuracy and adherence to the Architectural Woodwork Standards all contribute to enabling the woodworker to execute a project as the design professional has envisioned.

If the drawings are accurate and detailed, and reference the well-known and accepted AWI standard, this will ensure everyone working from these drawings have clear information. There will be open communication and less margin for error.

But it’s not just about the drawings themselves, it’s also about the woodworker who’s building the casework. Working with a certified AWI woodworker is essential, as they will have a deep understanding of the AWI standards and specifications.  

It’s also critical to undergo an AWI shop inspection and once the casework is installed. This will double-check that the drawings match the results and that the result meets the AWI casework standards.


QCP Advice for Meeting AWI Casework Standards

One area design professionals sometimes overlook in specifying standards is the correct grade needed for the casework, whether that’s economy, custom or premium. It’s important to ensure that your own specifications for casework don’t contradict the grade you’ve specified.

Examples of this include what areas of the casework are exposed versus areas that are concealed, and the surface finishes used in these areas.


The Importance of Inspection

When working with AWI certified woodworkers, the importance of inspection is paramount. Inspection ensures that the shop drawings match the end result and that the casework meets the AWI standards. After all, a project is only as good as its execution.

It’s also true to say that knowing there’ll be an inspection is a fair way of ensuring that the woodworker will provide their very best work.

You will find a lot of handy information and guidance about casework in the Architectural Woodwork Standards, section ten. This section covers casework in detail, as well as compliance requirements.


Elevate your portfolio of work with well-executed interior architectural woodwork projects installed by QCP certified woodworkers. Find out more.

Drafting accreditation - AWI QCP

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