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A Brief Outline of Steel Detailing

21 Jul 2020 | by Admin

The Process

Steel detailing is the process of creating drawings for a steel fabricator. The steel fabricator is responsible for installing the steel framework of a construction project. The Detailer creates drawings that will be the fabricator to cut and weld necessary steel members together. A detailing company utilizes architectural and structural engineering drawings to gain a working knowledge of the overall design intent of the building. By interpreting this information, a Detailer is able to create a different set of accurate drawings for the purpose of steel work fabrication. The drawing would also have the layout instruction to enable the fabricator to install and erect the steel framework.

Simplified Elaboration

In layman’s terms, we can conclude that an architect designs the look, while the engineer calculates the required size and location of the steel to ensure structural integrity. A Steel Detailer uses information from both to provide detailed drawings to provide exact dimensions on individual parts to be welded and installed by the fabricator A Steel Detailer produces a set of two drawings namely – shop and erection drawing, providing details on steel members utilized for fabrication and erection of the structure. Previously, the task was carried out manually using pencil, paper, and drafting tools such as a parallel bar or drafting machine along with mathematical aids like logarithmic tables. With time scientific calculators began to be used along with manual tools.

Present Scenario

Presently, steel detailing is done using computer-aided design (CAD). Special software specifically designed for steel detailing is used and information related to drawing, numbering, and quantities are manually fed into the system. Technology has further improved as today companies are using applications to create 3D models to carry out steel detailing, the final drawings are derived from the model. There are majorly two types of drawings produced by a Steel Detailer, which include:

Erection Drawings: These are dimensional plans that guide the fabricator at the construction site, providing details on ‘Where’ and ‘How’ to erect the fabricated steel members. This includes details on work to be done such as bolting or welding.

Shop Drawings: These contain the exact requirements for fabricating each individual member of a structure. It includes material specifications, member sizes, accurate dimensions, welding, bolting and painting requirements and any other information required that supports the completion of an individual member.

With the introduction of computer-aided detailing, it has become easier to incorporate changes enabling a smoother workflow with collaboration between the Detailer and the client producing the most optimized drawings as final output. Plus, the software has reduced human errors to make the job and process much easier.


While there are many steel detailing companies, select a company that is aware of rules and regulations, and strictly abides by the prevailing standards and practices. A good steel detailing company must facilitate the most complex project and make it feasible for a fabricator. Look for their track record and the degree of success they have had with steel detailing in the industry, reasonable experience makes for good technical expertise.

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