Discussing ANSI/AWI 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework with Hunter Morrison

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In our recent podcast, Jeff Brown, Director of Education at the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI), spoke with Hunter Morrison, Technical Director at AWI, about the new AWI Standard ANSI/AWI 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework.

In this accompanying blog post, we explore how ANSI/AWI 1232 differs from AWS Section 10, what you need to be aware of, and why this Standard follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process.

About ANSI/AWI 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework

Under the AWS 2nd Edition, a producer or manufacturer of wood casework would have referenced Section 10 – Casework. But that Standard was written with custom casework in mind. With ANSI/AWI 1232, there is now a Standard specific to manufactured stock casework typically sold through catalogs and distributors.

The purpose of ANSI/AWI 1232 is to establish minimum aesthetic and performance requirements to provide a well-defined degree of control over a project’s quality of materials and workmanship for manufactured wood casework. “But you could go one step further,” Hunter adds. “You could say that the purpose of this Standard is to establish those minimum requirements for a very specific subset of casework that falls outside of custom casework.”

At AWI, we see three distinct casework sections that affect our members, the industry, and design professionals:

  • Custom casework, which is covered by ANSI/AWI 0641 – Architectural Wood Casework.
  • CSI MasterFormat Division 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework, which is specific to stock catalog casework.
  • CSI MasterFormat Division 1235 – Specialty Casework, which includes hospitality, hospitals, libraries, religious buildings, and other kinds of unique and specific specialty-type sections. (AWI is currently producing a Standard for 1235.)

By breaking Section 10 out to specifically deal with manufactured wood casework, ANSI/AWI 1232 now closely aligns with CSI MasterFormat Division headings. Published by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), CSI MasterFormat is a Standard commonly referenced when formatting construction specs. “For the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, CSI is the gold standard for organizing and communicating specifications and work results for construction projects,” Hunter clarifies.

What is and isn’t included in ANSI/AWI 1232?

In following CSI MasterFormat Division 1232, this new Standard features subsections for Manufactured Wood Veneer Casework and Manufactured Plastic-Laminate Clad Casework. These subsections are further broken out depending on materials. But while ANSI/AWI 1232 has specific material requirements for each component of a cabinet, manufacturers must still follow the custom grade requirements of AWI 300 – Materials.

Items the Standard doesn’t cover include:

  • Anything specific to anchorage and installation, as this is covered by ANSI/AWI 0620 – Finish Carpentry/Installation.
  • Items structural to the building into which the woodwork will be installed.
  • Any product specified under CSI MasterFormat Division 6, as this is covered by ANSI/AWI 0641 – Architectural Wood Casework.
  • Products specified under CSI MasterFormat Division 1235 – Specialty Casework, as this will be covered by the upcoming AWI Standard.

ANSI/AWI 1232 also doesn’t cover manufactured wood casework that’s covered by ANSI/KCMA A161.1 – Performance and Construction Standard for Kitchen and Vanity Cabinets.This Standard was published by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA), an ANSI-accredited non-profit organization that represents residential cabinet manufacturers.

As Hunter explains, “The main reason is that, as an ANSI Standards development organization, we can’t conflict or compete with other existing ANSI Standards. KCMA has a Standard for kitchen and vanity manufactured wood casework. So for those products, you’d defer to their Standard.”

Aesthetic and structural grade requirements

Aesthetic grades

Like many other AWI Standards, ANSI/AWI 1232 has an aesthetic grade requirement. However, it doesn’t distinguish between premium, custom, and economy. Instead, it only lists single requirements.

“In general, the Standard uses the requirements that would be found under custom,” Hunter confirms. “But there are a few exceptions where we might have used what would be considered an economy or premium requirement under a different Standard.”

Structural grades

ANSI/AWI 1232 uses the same performance Duty Levels as those introduced in ANSI/AWI 0641. The difference is that Duty Levels 3 and 4 aren’t included as options. As such, Duty Level 2 is the default structural grade, rather than Duty Level 3. That’s not to say a company cannot provide a higher duty level cabinet if they choose to do so.

What are the design professional’s responsibilities?

AWI Standards are meant to exist and function in the absence of specifications. As Hunter puts it, “A design professional could specify AWI Standards with no further details and receive a well-produced product that meets all of the aesthetic and structural requirements of the Standard.”

Instead, the design professional’s responsibilities begin when their project has additional requirements. These include:

  • Specific finishes
  • Pattern and grain directions
  • Toe kick finishes
  • Interior clearance
  • Flame spread
  • Moisture resistance
  • Specific hardware
  • Species of veneer

For a more complete – though not exhaustive – list of design professional responsibilities, you can refer to ANSI/AWI 1232 5.0 Supplemental Information.

Who needs to know about ANSI/AWI 1232?

If a project contract specifies ANSI/AWI 1232, it’s important for any party that’s going to use that contract to understand it. That includes the general contractor, the woodworker, and the installer.

Since the Standard involves a testing component, the woodworker must use a tested construction method. They’ll also need official test report documents to illustrate their conformance to that testing.

Why is 1232 an ANSI Standard?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) facilitates the development of American National Standards by accrediting the procedures of a Standards Developing Organization (SDO). Since AWI is an ANSI-Accredited Standards Developer, we follow a strict set of policies and procedures for creating standards. Once those procedures have been completed, the necessary documentation is submitted to ANSI for approval..

“This process is important because it serves and protects the public interest,” Hunter explains. “The Standards developed by ANSI-accredited developers must meet the Institute’s requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process.”

These four terms can be understood as follows:

  • Openness: The Standard is open to public review.
  • Balance: The ballot body that votes on Standards approval is balanced between producers, users, and general-interest parties.
  • Consensus: The ballot body must have a majority vote on the approval of the Standard for it to pass and be presented to an ANSI board for approval.
  • Due process: SDOs must adhere to ANSI’s neutral oversight, assuring that all interested parties have the chance to participate in a Standard’s development.

Read our guide to the AWI Standards of architectural woodwork to find out more about ANSI/AWI 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework and other woodworking Standards.

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