Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills Inc. from shop drawings to storyboards:

May 3, 2019
Amanda Zimmerman


For close to a century property owner, architects, designers and Manhattan penthouse clientele have all sought the custom millwork of Eisenhardt Mills. Even the restorers of historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia chose the highest quality craftsmanship when they selected Eisenhardt Mills for their custom millwork.

But how does a piece of custom millwork go from an idea to a finished product? For wood to go from raw material to a sleek balustrade, stately door or elegant staircase, it has to first be created on paper and wood.

Shop Drawings

The first step in the process is to create shop drawings. Drawings from the architect that have been approved by the client, can serve as the basis for shop drawings, which are larger-scale and fleshed out with details about materials, process and project specifications.

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

This shop drawing is for the arched Honduran mahogany front door fashioned for a New York residence. In addition to the type of wood to be used, it specifies which elements of the project will be handled by other trades and spells out project specifications including elevation and the height and width of the door’s various sections.

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

Additional shop drawings are made to show section details, as in this drawing of the details for the transom. It provides additional views and information about the placement of joints and screws as well as measurements for the section.

Depending on the complexity and scale of the project, multiple shop drawings will be produced in order to spell out the details of the whole and its various elements, so that Eisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen have a detailed plan to work from as they move on to the next step in the process.

Storyboards and Story Poles

Once the project has been mapped out on paper, it’s time to create storyboards or story poles. Storyboards and story poles serve the same purpose—to provide a full-sized layout and measuring tool.

The ancestor of the tape measure, story poles serve as a custom measuring tool rod for your project. Instead of being marked with inches or millimeters, a story pole is detailed only with measurements you mark yourself on the pole to correspond exactly to the specifications of your project.

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

Eisenhardt Mills’ artisans use shop drawings to extrapolate measurements for the markings on a story pole for the library door.

A storyboard works in much the same way as a story pole, except that it is a board instead of a pole. It’s called a storyboard because it tells the story of the project in complete detail. Every angle, every piece of joinery, and every measurement is marked and spelled out. Storyboards create a full-scale reference for craftsmen to begin the process of cutting and working the wood.

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

Using story poles and storyboards, Eisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen have a full-scale reference detailing measurements, the placement of hinges, and areas where the finish is to be applied.

Beauty from Precision

Taking the time to create detailed shop drawings, storyboards and story poles where every angle and specification is mapped out in an annotated template gives artisans the exact information and reference point they need to move forward with skill and confidence. Precision is the foundation of the creative process, and the first step in crafting the custom architectural millwork projects that have made the Eisenhardt Mills name synonymous with high-end, high-quality craftsmanship.

Photo Gallery

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

Eisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen use shop drawings, story poles and storyboards to lay out the details of custom millwork projects.

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

This shop drawing provides section details for the lower, middle and transom panel of a Honduran mahogany door Eisenhardt Mills crafted for a New York residence.

Behind the scenes at Eisenhardt Mills: from shop drawings to storyboards

Full-sized story poles and storyboards developed from shop drawings, give Eisenhardt Mills artisans the exact information and reference point they need to craft their custom architectural millwork projects.