ALERT: ANSI/AWI 0641 Wood Casework Standard Is Here

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By Greg Parham, QCC Director of Inspections


Your time may be running out! You may have a project just around the corner for which the new ANSI/AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard will apply. While the new Standard was effective on June 1, 2020, it is just now coming into effect for those projects bid after June 1, 2020 which are starting to be awarded. In the last month, QCP had five (5) projects where the new standard appliesUnfortunately, the woodworkers were not prepared and have faced some challenges. So, what can you do? First and foremost, review the Standard and have a plan.

The ANSI/AWI 0641-2019 Standard’s effective date is June 1, 2020. This means any project bid on or after June 1, 2020 may be subject to inspection using the new standard. The following is a general guideline:

If the project was bid after June 1, 2020, and the wording in the Specifications call for the woodwork standards to be one of the following:

  • Architectural Woodwork Standard, Edition 2, 2014 or 2016
  • Architectural Woodwork Standards, 2nd Edition (with year or not)
  • Architectural Woodwork Standards, 2014 or 2016
  • AWS, Edition 2 or 2nd Edition

…then the current Architectural Woodwork Standard (AWS), Edition 2 would apply. However, should the specifications NOT have one of the above wording variations (e.g., for example the specifications call for the “Architectural Woodwork Standards, latest edition”) then the new ANSI/AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard will apply for the casework on the project.

While there are some changes from the 2nd edition AWS in each of the new Standards that have been released since 2019, the requirements in the ANSI/AWI 0641-2019 will have the most significant impact on your project and the QCP inspection.

The most significant change is that the ANSI/AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard uses Performance Duty Levels in regard to casework construction, drawer box construction, and shelf pins. Therefore, when inspecting, QCP will be verifying that the casework meets the Duty Level requirement. If the specifications do not call out a Duty Level, the default is Duty Level 3. The woodworker is required to provide documentation that the method of construction of cabinet, drawer box, and shelf pin used has been tested and meets the Duty Level required. The acceptable documentation shall be approved testing reports with shop drawings from AWI’s National Testing Center. There are currently two ways to obtain these testing report documents.

1. Contact AWI Technical Director Hunter Morrison at AWI. They have a number of pre-tested* cabinet construction methods that they can provide. Please note, unlike the previous Standard where maximum or minimum tolerances for location of fasteners was provided, the new tested methods must be followed exactly to meet the requirement for the Duty Level. (e.g. If the tested cabinet drawings show dowel spacing at 2” from the front edge and 96 mm on center for the remaining dowels, and the cabinets inspected had dowels at 1-3/4” from the front and the dowel spacing used was 96 mm, the cabinet would not qualify as a Duty Level 3 as that was not what was tested. Likewise, if the tested cabinet drawings did not show the use of screws in addition to dowels and you provided dowels on the required spacing, but you opted to add screws, this would also be considered nonconforming as it was not the way the cabinet that was tested was assembled).

QCP does not make assumptions regarding whether any addition to or subtraction from a tested method affects the Duty Level or not. We are required to inspect to the tested cabinet drawings provided and confirmed as meeting the Duty Level required. Also, please note, the tested method is core dependent. Therefore, a testing report for a particleboard core cabinet may not be used for a cabinet with an MDF core.

2. The second method to obtain the required testing report is to submit your cabinets for testing to a preferred Duty Level. Please note, testing can be performed by the AWI National Testing Center or any AWI approved lab. (Please contact Hunter Morrison for options and costs).

As always, Project Specifications supersede the Standards. Therefore, if the project specifications call for a drawer box construction or shelf pin that does not meet the Duty Level required, those items would be stated as conforming. However, those items do not cancel the requirement for the cabinet box construction to still meet the Duty Level requirement, unless, there is also specification for construction that prevents the box from meeting the requirement.

The key to success is planning. You should review the options above and select which one works best for you. If it is having your own method of construction tested, get the process started now; do not wait for a project to pop up and then try to get the testing rushed through. Testing takes time. If it is using a pre-tested method, review the testing report documents, select the one that works best for you and make the changes to your construction, so you are ready. Again, waiting until you have a project requiring the new Standard, and then rushing to get the report and then make the changes, opens up the opportunity for mistakes that can prove costly.

Please note, this article only addresses one item QCP anticipates to be a significant change for woodworkers. It does not address all of the changes in the new ANSI/AWI Standard. QCP urges our Licensees to review all of the new AWI Standards issued, beginning in 2019, against their current processes and determine how they intend to address them on projects. Planning is key, but also educating your project managers, estimators, and engineers for what to look for and how your firm will address it is the best way to avoid unexpected surprises and costs and assure full QCP project certification.

* The “pre-tested” cabinets (not proprietary) are those  that AWI had built to the current standards and then tested.