What Is Millwork?

Wondering what is Millwork? Then you’ve come to the right place!

We’ll go through exactly what Millwork is a bit further down this article. But first, an introduction.

An Introduction to Millwork

Any kind of refurbishing or redecorating work asks for an experienced contractor and workers.

You need everything to be perfect and so you contact the best workers for your job.

You discuss your ideas with them and listen to theirs.

Everything goes fine until they begin to speak of technical terms like “millwork”.

Millwork is not known by every person.

You ask them the details, you contact others but everyone provides you with their personal definitions of the same.

It can get confusing especially when you are seriously considering redecorating your place.

Before you get underway with hiring tradesmen, you should be fully aware of what millwork is so that you can make an informed decision on what needs to be done, and how much it should cost.

Refurbishing is more of a one man show, compared to a contractor who then directs its workers to get the work done in a short amount of time.

It is good to trust his instincts but you should also be aware of the details.

On this website, we will make sure that you fully comprehend the basics of millwork, understand what millwork actually is regardless of what others have taught you, and provide you with details about the tools which can be used for millwork.

What is Millwork?

Millwork refers to any item or object that has been processed in a mill.

In simpler terms, it refers to wooden work that has been crafted in a mill.

You come across such items every day unaware of them being “millwork” items.

From the wood panelling in your windows to interior doors to window casing, everything is a product of millwork.

The wooden details you admire at monuments or palaces are also created through millwork.

Bookcases, crown moldings, chair rails, fireplace mantels, stairway, stairway parts, switch plates, wall crown, corners and cornices and even decorative wood items are a part of millwork.

Mill + Work = MillWork

Millwork requires precision as the wood has to be cut in specific shapes and sizes, it has to be framed and even painted to look eye-catching.

It involves very intricate work with the wood.

The decorative items at your place need the most effort as it asks for minute detailing on the wood.

Secondly, the type and quality of wood being used also makes a huge difference.

Some woods are tough to cut while others are not durable enough.

Finding the right quality of wood for specific items also requires experience.

From ancient time wood has been one of the most favored items for decoration – from ceilings to exquisite wooden fireplaces, we prefer our place to be furnished with wood.

These items are originally cut from raw lumber in a sawmill, thus they fall under the millwork category.

Sometimes cabinetry is also included in this category.

However, carpentry and flooring both offer an entirely separate arena and are not related to millwork.

The millwork items, after being cut, need some finishing.

The finishing can be done with the help of a sealant, paint or stain depending on the choice of work and wood preference.

Mostly, millwork is completed with a uniform color.

However, with changing times, the fashion in millwork is also changing.

Nowadays, people prefer stained finish on door frames and trim but painted doors inside those frames.

The choice of wood has also changed.

People tended to prefer refurbishing their house with a single type of wood back in the old days.

However, nowadays people ask for a mix of two different types of wood in the detailing of their work.

Maple and cherry are the most favored wood types in this category.

For a more thorough understanding of millwork, here are some examples;

Examples of Millwork

  1. Portico: The most favoured and beautiful millwork, Portico refers to a small porch equipped with a supported roof leading to a beautiful entrance of a building.
  2. Quoins: These are rectangular shaped masonry pieces extending up to a building’s corner. These provide reinforcement to the structure.
  3. Rosette: These are a part of antiques. A round, unique and stylized miniature medallion that can be employed to an architecture or furniture.
  4. Wall Niche: It is usually a recessed portion of the wall in which vases and other decorative items are placed.
  5. Pediment: It is a rectangular fixture in the upper front part of a building or window. Most commonly seen in ancient architectural structures.
  6. Louver: It is a slatted window line or a shutter used for ventilation.
  7. Mouldings: These are basically wooden strips to cover surfaces or can also be used for ornamental purposes.
  8. Crown Moulding: It is a type of moulding installed at the intersection of the walls and ceilings.
  9. Corbel: It is a piece of solid material which protrudes from the wall to provide support.
  10. Astragal: These are materials covering the gap between a pair of doors to prevent them from swinging back and forth in an open space.
  11. Chair Rail: These are wall mouldings applied at chair height to prevent chairs from scuffing the wall.
  12. Cornice: These are decorative mouldings applied around the top of a wall, building or even a piece of furniture.
  13. Header: It is a horizontal support spanning the opening of a window or door.
  14. Medallion: It is an embellished accent attached at ceiling’s central point.

So, the above examples are all included under one category as “Millwork”.

However, a lot of people get confused while explaining millwork because it also falls under the bigger umbrella of “carpentry”.

What Does Millwork Not Include?

As mentioned earlier, the broader term “carpentry” creates confusion in the minds of many.

Carpentry refers to the art of woodworking and millwork is a part of woodworking.

However, they ultimately refer to different things.

The term “carpentry” refers to the process of constructing things with wood, while “millwork” refers to any wooden object created in a mill, which are usually more intricate wooden finishings and details.

Millwork does not include flooring, sidings or ceilings.

Another confusing term associated with carpentry and millwork is casework.

Again, “casework” is totally different from millwork.

However, it has been used as an alternative to millwork by a lot of people.

So then, how are millwork and casework different?

Read on to find out:

The Difference Between “Millwork” and “Casework”

To recap, here is the definition of millwork:

“Millwork” refers to any kind of woodwork that has been processed in a mill.

This can involve anything from doors, wood panelling, crown moldings, cornices etc.



A basic difference between millwork and casework is that millwork is custom made.

It can be created according to the need of customers and will entail any type of custom-made woodwork.

For example, cabinets shelving, stairways, custom storage.

If there is any space for customization of your woodwork then it will essentially fall under the category of “Millwork”.

Another difference is budgeting.

A rule of thumb is that the total cost of millwork items will be two or three times the cost of the materials required.

On the other hand “Casework” refers to creating boxes. Yes, you read it right!

Boxes of different shapes and sizes like a bookcase, storage boxes or even cabinetry.

The main difference between millwork and casework is that casework includes all those items which are essential for stocking goods (boxes, cabinets, bookshelves etc), while millwork refers to wooden pieces that are custom made in a mill!

Casework, again, is not at all custom made.

You need to have dimensions and measurements for installing a bookcase in your room.

For the very reason, casework is somewhat cheaper than millwork because it does not involve a lot of intricate work.

Can You Do Millwork at Home?

what is millwork

So after getting an insight into the world of millwork, you might be interested in doing some millwork yourself at home

To tell you the truth then there is no harm with that.

You will rather enjoy creating your own masterpieces and decorating your home.

So, the simple answer to this question is YES! You can do millwork at home.

However, you will need some basic tools for cutting, shaping and finishing the wood.

Don’t worry because we are here to help you with it.

Millworkguide.com is all about helping such enthusiasts like you who like trying different things and want to do millwork at home.

We will provide you with ideas, tools, review of tools for you to buy making it a bit easier for you to perform your task at home.

Basic Tools Required for Millwork

What are you afraid of? You might be having an idea in your mind by now so work on transforming it into reality.

Here are some tools you may need to perform millwork at home:

  1. Tool Belt
  2. Hand Drill
  3. Measuring Tape
  4. Sandpaper
  5. Hammer
  6. Nail Set
  7. Nail Puller

These are some of the millwork essentials.

However, its similar to carpentry tools, and you can follow our elaborated guide about basic carpentry tools which will help you in the better understanding of the tools and their proper uses for  millwork.

What Is Millwork – Conclusion

We hope this article has helped clear up any confusion you may have had about Millwork!

As you can probably tell from the name of this site, we have many other articles all related to millwork that you may find interesting.

You can use the sidebar on this page to navigate around the site, or here are a few shortcuts to our most popular articles for further reading:

Different Types of Chisels and Their Uses
Crown Moldings – A Guide To A Beautiful Home
How To Cut Wood Without A Saw
How To Increase the Price Of Your House with Millwork and Moulding