What is a Shop Drawing?

Malcolm Tatum

A shop drawing is a set of sketches and drawings that are prepared prior to the creation of various types of devices. The idea behind the drawings is to provide guidelines for the manufacturing of those devices, helping to ensure that quality standards and other specifications are met. Drawings of this type are common for a number of different applications, including the manufacturing of pre-fabricated building components such as elevators or cabinets. Benefits associated with these types of construction documents include the ability to ensure quality, some degree of uniformity in the dimensions of each of the components, and the ability to correct potential issues before they have the chance to complicate the actual installation and construction.

Contractors, suppliers or manufacturers may draft a shop drawings that influence more technical blueprints.
Contractors, suppliers or manufacturers may draft a shop drawings that influence more technical blueprints.

Professionals who normally create blueprints, such as engineers or architects, do not prepare the typical shop drawing. Instead, these types of drawings are normally prepared by contractors, suppliers, or manufacturers in response to the needs of clients. This does not mean that blueprints do not influence the technical drawing that is common to shop drawings. In fact, the detail provided by an engineer or an architect will aid in the creation of a shop drawing that is to scale and fits in neatly with the vision of the architect. Manufacturers who prepare the drawings may also utilize them when working with a client to develop the ideal design for a specific project. This means the shop drawing may relate to a component that is mass-produced, or a series of components that are custom designed for a particular client.

In some ways, the shop drawing is a means of creating the component on paper before moving on to the task of manufacturing the component using materials. This approach makes it possible to adjust dimensions and other elements before any raw materials are actually used in some type of construction. From this perspective, the show drawing serves to minimize waste during construction or during a manufacturing project, which in turn helps to keep project costs within the limits of a budget.

A shop drawing is often associated with pre-fabricated components used in building projects. This means that components of the project such as ductwork for a heating and cooling system, major built-in appliances, counters, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and even pre-fabricated windows and doors are often manufactured using some type of shop drawing. Virtually any type of millwork will involve the use of a shop drawing as a means of producing components that are ideal for the intended purpose. Use of these types of components can help to expedite construction, since the uniform dimensions of the components manufactured with the aid of the drawings are matched to the specific needs of the construction design.

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