What to Consider and Include in Cabinet Shop Drawings

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Producing accurate, clear, and comprehensive shop drawings is a crucial step to submitting a woodwork project under the AWI Standards. Keeping manufacturers, contractors, and designers on the same page, they ensure that the design concept will look and perform exactly as intended. Most woodworkers do not provide the level of detail in their shop drawings that QCP requires. Continue reading to learn what you should consider and include in cabinet shop drawings, and why they’re so important.

What to Include in Cabinet Shop Drawings

We’ll cut right to the chase. There are several things you should ensure are included in your cabinet shop drawings. These are:

  • Construction methods
  • Desired materials and finishes
  • Joinery details
  • Dimensions
  • Technical suggestions

Beyond this generalized overview, cabinet shop drawings must include detailed representations of the following items:

  • Full-sized profile of trim/scribe 
  • Plan, elevation, and section of the casework
  • Attachment method of face frame members
  • Type and thickness (heights and depths) of drawer members and cabinet doors
  • Section of each cabinet configuration
  • All joinery and connections, including locations of metal work or other specialty items
  • Detailed method of how the cabinet will be attached to the walls and floors
  • Requirements and locations for blocking or strapping

Additionally, under the ANSI/AWI 0641 Casework Standard, cabinet shop drawings must also include which performance duty level the piece is to be tested to. Once submitted for testing, this will be the duty level that the piece has to perform to. Here’s a quick recap of the duty levels and their applications:

  • Duty Level 1 is for light commercial applications
  • Duty Level 2 is for commercial applications
  • Duty Level 3 is for institutional applications and is the default duty level if a duty level is not specified
  • Duty Level 4 is for laboratory applications and is the highest duty level

The layout of the shop drawing document is also important. All cabinet shop drawings must include a title sheet stating the project name, address, AWI grade, and scope. This page is also where the desired duty level should be indicated, along with the desired aesthetic grade (economy, custom, premium) , and contact information for all firms involved in the project. Following the title page should come a table of contents, listing and locating all items included in the submittal package. 

Important Things to Consider

There are three key areas of cabinet shop drawings to consider:

  • Levels of approvals: Shop drawings can either be classed as approved, approved as noted, revise and resubmit, or rejected. This is determined by the design professional.
  • Samples: If the shop drawings have been approved, samples must be provided by the appropriate party. For example, it’s usually up to the design professional to provide samples of finishes which the woodworker must match. It is the woodworker’s responsibility to provide finish samples to the design professional for approval showing the range of color variation they can expect..
  • Scheduling: It’s the responsibility of all parties to ensure that cabinet shop drawings are submitted, reviewed, and approved in a timely manner in order to keep the project on schedule and within budget.

The AWI 100 Submittals standard also outlines requirements for cabinet shop drawings and what they should include, from the system of measurement to the responsibilities of those involved in the project. The latter is of particular importance because manufacturers, contractors, and design professionals all have different responsibilities they must fulfil in connection to shop drawings, and these must be considered carefully.

Manufacturer & Supplier Responsibilities

It’s the responsibility of the manufacturer/supplier to create the cabinet shop drawings and provide these to the general contractor, design professional, or owner for review. The most important thing for the manufacturer to bear in mind is the process of requesting changes and gaining approval of those changes. 

Any changes or substitutions made to the material and/or design must first be identified within the submittal package. They must be separate from the shop drawings and submitted at the same time. To gain approval for these, it’s the responsibility of the manufacturer to submit a formal request for approval. Any changes that are within the shop drawings themselves won’t count as a request for approval. 

General Contractor Responsibilities

It’s up to the general contractor to ensure that the cabinet shop drawings are enforced and followed by all trades throughout the project. Any changes to the design must also be communicated by the contractor and enforced by each subcontractor. This means that if, for example, dimensions deviate from those specified in the submittal package, the specific subcontractor can be identified and held accountable.

Design Professional Responsibilities

It’s the responsibility of the architect or design professional to review the cabinet shop drawings after the general contractor has forwarded them on. A reviewed copy must be returned to either the contractor or manufacturer within 10 days. 

When reviewing shop drawings, the design professional is responsible for:

  • Ensuring the design is in compliance with building codes and local regulations
  • Clarifying, commenting on, or correcting any necessary areas
  • Ensuring the drawings are returned promptly to avoid delaying work
  • Communicating any design changes to all parties involved
  • Providing a 127mm x 203mm sample of the finish specified in the shop drawings

Why are Cabinet Shop Drawings Important?

Everything we’ve mentioned so far provides a standard that ensures the consistent and high-quality delivery of cabinet shop drawings. This is important because the success of an architectural woodworking project depends on these initial drawings, which act as a guide or recipe that everyone can follow. 

Here are a few reasons why detailed and timely cabinet shop drawings are so important:

  1. They eliminate design conflicts and keep everyone on the same page
  2. They provide precise measurements and specifications of the casework
  3. Computer-aid drafting (CAD) technology can be used to streamline the process, in terms of both approval and coordination between architects and manufacturers
  4. They save money by outlining the best construction method, avoiding hardware mistakes, and improving communication between all parties
  5. They ensure that the final product fulfills the design intent, performs exactly how it’s supposed to, and exceeds client expectations