Drafting table

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Project by tooling51 posted 07-15-2013 06:38 AM 2281 views 6 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My college aged son wanted a drawing table he could use standing or sitting. He google image searched vintage drafting tables. He combined different elements and came up with his own design. The top is 42”x32”. It is walnut as are the feet and the frame is oak. The metal tightening knobs are salvaged from an old junked drafting table, the rest are turned with a nut embedded. It took us longer than anticipated, figuring arm lengths and trunnion placements but it works well and can be adjusted by one person. He also wanted a plexiglass center to be used as a light box. Eventually it will be back lit.

-- Rick, Kansas

8 comments so far

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1966 days

#1 posted 07-15-2013 09:54 AM

Cool drafting table…quite impressed with the mechanics of it…great job.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View steliart's profile


2801 posts in 2831 days

#2 posted 07-15-2013 10:59 AM

Excellent design and build.
Been a graphic designer I worked all my life with drafting tables and light boxes and the only thing I would have made different was to use glass over the plexiglass.
Nice job.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View tooling51's profile


4 posts in 1921 days

#3 posted 07-15-2013 09:49 PM

Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. Steliart, why would you prefer glass and would it be frosted? Any suggestions on methods of back lighting would be great also. Thanks.

-- Rick, Kansas

View Christophret's profile


150 posts in 2144 days

#4 posted 07-16-2013 02:39 AM

Very cool!
I like that!
Check out mine in – my projects.
I also have a seperate light table in the works.
I bought a 36” x 30” x 3/8” acid etched plate glass for my light table (i wanted it big), it cost a few bucks.
But I plan in getting window frosting to further difuse the opacity and im looking into the LED light strips opposed to bulbs. You want a bright steady glow to trace elements and patterns.
Nice work and design! Almost reminds me of an animators light table…

-- I cut it twice and it's still too short!

View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3232 days

#5 posted 07-16-2013 06:38 PM

Lovely table, a perfect match to the chair.
It will be a wonderful place to draw.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View steliart's profile


2801 posts in 2831 days

#6 posted 07-16-2013 09:27 PM

First of all glass is strong, doesn’t flex or scratches, you can cut on it with an art knife, doesn’t get hot from the back light and many other reasons. In Graphic Arts light boxes are always made with glass. Boxes made from plexi are basically for viewing photo slides or other transparencies, but this is a drafting table so glass would have been my choice.
I have two ways doing them. First if the box is deep enough then I might use white plexiglass and then clear glass over it (make sure the glass have rounded edges). Second if it’s shallow I would prefer to use two pieces of glass. A white or frosted glass under and a clear over or two frosties together depending from the power of the back light. Another trick is, if you need to fog the glass more I can always add a sheet of tracing paper between the two.
For lighting I always used fluorescent tubes, depending of the box size, 3 small ones will do just fine or you can also use a circular fluorescent tube, works very nice too. What we are trying to do is to have even spread of light under the table.
If you are building a box around them then make sure you open 3-4 one inch holes to each side for ventilation and cooling it down.
Hope that was helpful enough.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View tooling51's profile


4 posts in 1921 days

#7 posted 07-16-2013 10:09 PM

Yes Stelios, very helpful. Our plexiglass is only 1/4” thick so using another piece of glass on top and maybe even tracing paper in between would be possible. Christophret, your table was one we looked at as we searched for ideas. Our original design had long hinge arms that came out the front of the table as it moved, similar to yours in a way, but since I had the salvaged tightening knobs we went with that.

-- Rick, Kansas

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2318 days

#8 posted 07-18-2013 02:08 PM

Beautiful drafting table! Great design especially the mechanism, very well thought of. Like the walnut mix with oak. Excellent work!

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