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Inside Look Into the Steel Detailing Process

Steel Detailing Process

The process of steel detailing is an important and multifaceted step in constructing anything that is made of this material. This includes commercial buildings, non-building structures, air handling units, elevators, bridges, industrial plants, and more. The architect or structural engineer of the project creates an idea and then puts it on paper in a generic form. The drawings may also contain things linked to the mechanical systems, which actually relate to the fabrication of the specific steel members.

The next step in the steel detailing process is that the steel detailer will take these design drawings and then transform them into very specific diagrams for each of the steel pieces being used. Plans and drawings are created to make and erect all steel members, including joists, metal decking, handrails, stairs, braces, columns, trusses, and beams.

Shop Drawings

When it comes to steel detailing, the drawings provided by the detailer cover how the steel pieces are made, and they are actually referred to as being shop drawings. They are used to identify the specifications needed to fabricate every piece or member of a particular structure.

The drawings are used by a steel fabricator to create and produce the needed members. When it comes to steel detailing, some things the shop drawings may include for every piece are:

The size

Specifications of materials used

Dimension requirements

Surface preparation



Requirements for painting

Manufacturing conventions

Instructions for steel fabricating

When it comes to steel detailing, after the steel fabricator has produced the steel members, then the detailer will step up once again and create the drawings needed for where the steel members are actually being used. These are referred to as the erection drawings.

Erection Drawings

The steel erector on the construction site is the person who will refer to the erection drawings in the steel detailing process to know where and how to build with the provided steel pieces. Dimensional plans are provided with the erection drawings to clearly identify the steel members, along with the work needed on the site including bolting and welding, along with the installation of masonry anchors.

Additional Responsibilities and Duties

When it comes to the duties and responsibilities of the detailer during the steel detailing process, there are other things they are required to handle. These include:

Observing the design drawing parameters using industry standards, including the ones set by AWS – the American Welding Society, as well as AISC – the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Presenting the created drawings to the architect and/or the structural engineer to be evaluated before they are released or given to the fabricator.

If the structural drawings do not have proper information, offer information to the structural engineer.

If detailers are not certain about the information, preventing them from finishing the drawings, then they can send an RFI – request for information – the right parties before moving forward.

Sending the drawings to another detailer (the checker) for accuracy and completeness.

Monitoring the changes during the creation of the drawings and identifying the revisions that are needed by assigning a letter code or a number in the revision block on the drawings.

Resolving any comments that may have been made from the checking and approval process.


CAD is now used instead of manual drafting when it comes to steel detailing. The detailer that users these systems typically generates the drawings on a computer and uses software that is designed for this specific purpose – then prints them. The skills needed for steel detailing include a proficiency in how to use computers, as well as how to use the needed CAD software. Some steel detailers even use various three-dimensional modeling applications. This provides an even more in-depth drawing for those who are responsible for fabricating and erecting the structure in question.

To learn more about the steel detailing process, contact the professionals at HI-Q Design Inc today. Our team will help you get your project done no matter the size or scope.