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Casework vs Millwork: All You Need to Know


One of the first decisions that arise when designing or remodeling an office space is whether to use casework or millwork. The issue is that many people are unaware of the distinction and frequently use the phrases interchangeably, referring to both types of the woodwork as the same. 

Carpentry is a broad phrase that refers to all types of woodworking. Woodworking is divided into two categories: casework and millwork. While they have certain similarities, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart from one another in terms of CAD drafting and manufacturing perspective. 

Let’s understand the key differences between casework and millwork. 

What is Casework?

In the woodworking industry, the phrase casework refers to wood cases or boxes. As a result, casework literally translates to “box manufacturing.” Built-in cabinets, bookshelves, kitchen island drawers, cupboards, and a variety of other storage cabinets are examples of casework boxes.  

Parts may be partially prefabricated and constructed on-site later, such as a prefabricated fitted kitchen, or they may be totally prefabricated based on standard measurements. Casework can also be built from the ground up, according to specific measurements. Casework entails the creation of boxed furniture such as cabinets (both display and storage), racks and drawers, bookcases, storage spaces, and kitchen drawers, among other things. 

Generally, casework construction would not include custom-made furniture and would instead be used in a modular setting. Any cabinet manufacturer or other furniture manufacturing company (or casework CAD drafters) should supply pre-fabricated building goods (or casework CAD shop drawings) that may be built on-site for the final end product. 

Common Millwork Examples 

  • Cabinets 
  • Bookshelves,  
  • Kitchen Island Drawers 
  • Cupboards 
  • Storage Units 

What is Millwork?

Millwork is woodwork that has been fabricated in a mill, as the name suggests. From doors and panels to moldings and trimmings, the phrase encompasses a wide range of objects. These are usually customized components that are installed on-site according to the client’s exact requirements. As a result, millwork items are frequently one-of-a-kind in terms of dimensions, forms, and materials. As a result, casework is classified as a form of millwork. 

Millwork, also known as millwork design, refers to finished construction items or woodwork created in a mill, such as doors, crown molding, wall paneling, display counters, and custom kitchen cabinet drawing, among other things. However, despite being built of wood, pieces that are important portions of the building itself, such as the ceiling, flooring, or siding, are not included here. 

Common Millwork Examples 

  • Embellishments 
  • Mantels 
  • Balusters 
  • Doors 
  • Wall panels 
  • Window casings 
  • Mantels 
  • Moldings 
  • Wood veneer 

Bridge the gap between COST & QUALITY

Key Differences Between Millwork and Wood Casework?

The fundamental distinction between millwork and wood casework is that millwork is frequently custom-made to meet a client’s specific requirements, whereas casework is not. Casework, on the other hand, usually refers to prefabricated or modular furniture, however, this is not always the case. There can be various varieties, and in the case of casework, customization of colors, surface treatment, and other factors can be done at the user’s discretion. 

Casework is usually less expensive since it can be mass-produced. Another disadvantage of casework is that it is typically mass-produced, whereas millwork is custom-made for a specific area of the structure and cannot be reused for another project. Let’s see some other comparisons in terms of: 

1. Production

Wood casework is typically mass-produced using standard sizes, materials, and designs; however, this is not always the case. Many cabinetry products, for example, share parts, patterns, and even wood veneers. Millwork, on the other hand, is produced in limited quantities and is frequently one-of-a-kind due to client requests. Millwork is therefore less common than casework and has a greater range of variations. 

Although there is a distinction between the two, woodworking companies can also make custom casework. 

2. Cost

When casework is mass-produced and based on conventional dimensions and measurements, it is usually more cost-effective. If the casework parts are sold as a flat pack or ready-to-assemble furniture, the price is significantly lower. 

Millwork, on the other hand, is more expensive because it is usually custom. Millwork is typically fitted onsite by woodworking professionals due to the bespoke nature of their parts and design, therefore labor costs are also a consideration. 

3. Integration

As wood casework is normally created to a set of standards, the parts may not fit properly in position or blend in seamlessly with the rest of the structure. For example, if you need book storage beneath the stairs, a store-bought bookcase would be tough to fit into the available space. Because wood casework cannot be altered, the finish may clash with your décor. 

Millwork, on the other hand, may be smoothly blended into any structure, becoming a part of it rather than just filling it. Millwork doors, for example, are custom-made to fit any space since they are measured and constructed to meet the size of the client’s door openings. 

Millwork, like a bookcase under the stairs, can be created to fit into the geometrical areas meant for it. They can also be finished to match the aesthetic of the building they’ll be installed in, whether that’s through the use of a certain veneer, color, or shape. 

4. Architectural Millwork vs Casework

Architectural millwork  items with intricate designs and precise measurements rely heavily on architectural and technical drawings. The millworker will be unable to build the piece accurately without clear and precise plans like these. 

It could also have an impact on how the piece is installed and used. Wood casework, on the other hand, may be manufactured to a set of pre-set standards and measurements, so it doesn’t rely as largely on architectural plans.  

Some wood casework, on the other hand, is built from the ground up, necessitating comprehensive shop designs. This is especially important if a QCP-certified woodworking project contains casework, as it must meet the Architectural Woodwork and AWI Standards for wood casework. 

6. Retrofitting 

Wear and tear are inevitable due to constant use and the constantly changing needs of customers. As a result, over time you might need to upgrade, renovate, or replace your wooden items. Since newer, significantly improved products have been produced in similar standard dimensions, it is simpler to remove and replace old wooden casework with them. It will be much more difficult to retrofit, though, as millwork is made to order. 

5. Final Product

Millwork is intended to be a long-term investment. As a result, once the final items are installed, they cannot be easily removed or replaced. However, because casework elements can be purchased in modular or semi-complete forms, there is more flexibility in terms of moving or changing out pieces. As a result, casework is a more transient product, whereas millwork is an investment in a long-term piece of furniture. 

Millwork or Casework – Final Thoughts 

Millwork and casework are both essential components of any construction job. As a result, it is critical for architects, interior designers, home builders, contractors, and manufacturers to ensure that shop drawings are accurate and of high quality. 

Although they share some characteristics, they also differ from one another in the viewpoints of CAD drafting and manufacturing. The main distinction between them is that millwork is made to order, specifically to meet the needs of a client. 

When deciding between casework and millwork, you must take into account all of the variables. Though millwork is more expensive, the custom-built products are of great quality and crafted with care. 

You’ll also observe that the workmanship and attractiveness of millwork are significantly superior to that of casework, particularly in the trim and molding. Casework, on the other hand, is a wonderful alternative if you want uniformity and a finished product that is ready to use right away. 

Follow INDOVANCE Inc for AEC Industry Updates and Global Construction News.  

INDOVANCE Inc with its exclusive delivery hub in India is a global CAD technology partner serving the needs of the AEC industry since 2003. At INDOVANCE we focus on the unique need of each project or client and believe in addressing the real challenges and guarantee that the process will be well-coordinated, smooth, efficient, and hassle-free.  

We collaborate with our customers around the world to develop bespoke business solutions using our enormous engineering talent pool and state-of-the-art technology. To deliver long-term engineering and business strategies, we align with your culture and processes to create an unbreakable partnership. With over 500 full-time employees and more than 600 customers in the US, Europe, India, and Asia, we are poised for the next level of success.  

Our casework and millwork services include shop drawings, store fixtures, furniture, and commercial cabinets, among other things. Apart from the design, we will also attend to the finer aspects such as the materials used and safety standards, among other things, to provide our customers with a comprehensive solution and better value for their money. 

Indovance acts as a catalyst, Empowering You for positive change and supporting you to Do More. 

For more queries regarding any of the above-mentioned topics, feel free to connect with us on our website www.indovance.com or contact us on +1-919-238-4044 

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