What Is Millwork? (And 5 Ways To Meet Industry Standards)

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AWI Standards for millwork cover a wide range of technical details that woodworking professionals can comply with. These standards cover both the aesthetic and functional aspects of architectural millwork, and include both customized and common woodwork, from panels, window cases, and crown moldings, to custom kitchen cabinets and drafting and display counters. The term ‘millwork’ is sometimes used interchangeably with casework, but there are several key differences between the two.

Millwork Explained

Any woodwork item that is fabricated in a mill is known as millwork. Included under the umbrella of this term are various types of woodwork products that are customized to fit in specific places. This is why architectural millwork can be different types of wood, depending on the client’s specifications. Doors, panels, moldings and trims are all examples of millwork.

Millwork requires high precision to achieve your desired shapes and sizes. Some sawmills and woodwork shops have computer-operated power tools that precisely cut woods into desired shapes and sizes, providing a solution that meets both precision and efficiency. 

Millwork products of exquisite quality, however, are achieved through the combination of manual craftsmanship and automated precision cuts. Indeed, many aspects of millwork still require skilled manual labor – so we won’t be handing our tools over to AI just yet!

Moving on, architectural millwork drafting is mainly concerned with the decorative woodwork components in a house or building. Some designs, such as staircases, have components that are fabricated in mills but assembled onsite. So, unlike casework products, which are mostly prefabricated, millwork cannot be mass-produced because of its customized nature. Pieces are designed to fit specific spaces, and so need to follow much more stringent practices to uphold the quality and integrity of these pieces.

What Are the Industry Standards For Millwork?

In the US, the AWI Standards for millwork can be followed by woodworkers, architects, and mills to demonstrate that their woodwork project meets best industry practices. In order for a project to receive certification, it has to be audited by a QCP inspector who will assess its compliance with the standards and only licensed firms can provide labels and certificates. 

Architectural millwork standards make life easier for professionals in the construction field by s.universalizing the materials and measurements that should be used in millwork. More importantly, the standards ensure that high quality is consistently maintained. 

This is beneficial for clients as much as it is for professionals because it gives them reassurance for a high-quality finish. In turn, this can mean better business for woodworking professionals.

5 Ways To Meet Millwork Industry Standards

While the AWI Standards aren’t a legal requirement, they demonstrate that woodworkers, architects, and design professionals have followed industry best practices. The AWI has more than 1,500 members across the woodworking industry who adhere to architectural millwork standards. Here are five ways you can meet and benefit from these standards: 

  • Knowing your elements

It’s very important to know how and when to use the various decorative and structural elements of millwork, such as:

If you know the how and the when, you can create projects that can be certified based on the AWI Standards. As a result, your project will be of high quality, both aesthetically and structurally.

  • Using quality materials

High-quality materials for millwork determine the final product. If you use the right materials, your client will be satisfied. You must be familiar with the different hardwood and softwood species if you want to be able to do this.

Only about 900 species of hardwood out of 200,000 species are used in millwork. Meanwhile, approximately 600 species of softwood trees are coniferous trees. You must be able to distinguish good lumber from bad lumber so that you can start your project right. You should also be highly discerning and even picky when it comes to choosing a wood with the right grain patterns, colors, and durability.

  • Following measurements

Most millwork products are customized to specific spaces. This means that you should be precise in measuring, shaping, and fabricating the millwork product based on the specifications of the clients.

  • Training workers

Even if you’re the most skilled and talented woodworker in the world, you cannot possibly do everything, especially on large projects. You need other woodworkers who will work under your supervision. When you do this, it’s crucial that you provide adequate training. You also need to continually learn and improve your own skills so that you’re constantly evolving.

  •  Managing time

Whatever project you’re working on, you should have a precise timetable or deadline. You must follow these. If the deadlines aren’t reasonable, then you should negotiate with the client and find a middleground. The important part is to make sure that you and your client are using the same timescale, and that you meet your client’s expectations by completing the project within this timeframe. 

Find out more about the AWI Standards and how they help you meet & exceed industry best practices.

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