Instructables

Adjustable drafting table with basic tools and materials

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I've been playing around with the idea of getting myself a small drafting table, as I find the adjustable angle quite comfortable for a number of different things: drawing, reading, writing, working with the keyboard/mouse, etc. At first, I tested it out by just putting a shelf on my lap and adjusting my knees to get the angle I want. It was a fully functional prototype, but perhaps not that comfortable. :) After doing some browsing, I couldn't really find any drafting table that I liked, mostly because the drawing surface was much larger than what I was looking for. And so I thought "Fine, I'll make one myself then!", picked up a sheet of paper and started making some designs. After drawing a bunch of different versions, I finally ended up with something that I liked:

- You can adjust the angle quickly and easily. The angled surface is held in place in the middle by a simple metal rod, so you only need to move that one rod to change the angle. (Have a look at the third picture to see how that works.)
- The angled surface is plenty sturdy (.. for regular use; I'm not going to try standing on it though.)
- It looks nice, as you can't see any screws on the outside. I also used a piece of left-over laminate flooring to make the angled surface, so I know it matches my floor at least. :) (Plus, it can take the same beating as my floor, e.g. spills and such.)
- As I only used left-over materials laying around the house, it didn't cost me a dime. There's nothing fancy in there though: just some pieces of wood, wood glue, screws and a pair of hinges.
- I only used basic tools to build the table: You essentially need some things to measure, saw, hammer, screw and chisel with.
- It's a no-frills drafting table; the only feature I wanted was the adjustable angle and that's the only feature it has. However, you can fairly easily alter the design to add additional features like top drawers, a gutter in the angled surface or an adjustable table height.
 
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pfred23 years ago
It would have been nice if you hinged the sides. That way you could have folded it all up when not in use. The one I have doesn't so I keep it under my table saw out feed table when I am not using it.

It is a store bought one. Although I didn't buy it in a store. It has one of those big tops you don't like.
OutFeedDrawers.jpgDraftingMachine.jpg
timmolderez (author)  pfred23 years ago
True, that would be a nice addition. While I keep the table permanently in front of my computer desk (so it's basically always in use), it would be cool if you could make the table foldable and height-adjustable with the same mechanism. So you could not just fold it up entirely, or set it up to its maximum height, but also lock it at any position in between. Hmm, I'll have to give that some more thought; maybe I'll post a follow-up instructable some day. In any case, thanks for triggering the idea :)
I don't know how the same mechanism could be used to make it height adjustable too because I was thinking about you borrowing some of the mechanical elements from say one of these:

http://tinyurl.com/bnk7pus

Which your table sort of reminded me of.
timmolderez (author)  pfred23 years ago
Ah no, I had another mechanism in mind; see the crude drawing I just made :) It basically replaces my current table frame with something completely different. Perhaps a little finnicky to set the table height like this, but it is foldable, height-adjustable and it works (at least in my head it does).
Folding table.png
Just a thought. By making the central pin removable you could eliminate angle adjustment mechanism. Less firm, though.
table.png
pfred2 greemo3 years ago
 I looked at their sketch a little more closely and some design elements common among all folding tables seem missing. All the folding tables like this I've seen have outer, and inner leg pairs. This author's legs seem to cross which would stop the table from folding up completely. Also the larger outer legs are pinned to the table top but the inner ones are held by a hook. The leg pairs are braced together towards their bottoms. This forms U shapes that nest well.

To get an easy wide adjustment range I would dispense with all those holes and route two slots into the legs. Then have multiple engagement points under the table surface for one movable leg pair to lock to.

For hardware I'd use a carriage bolt that fit a slot width wise and a washer and wing nut on the outside. No little parts to completely remove and maybe lose and less fiddly all around.

I'm sorry I don't draw very well on computers. The "Rack" is as in rack and pinion. It could be blocks of wood, pins whatever would hold on the brace.

I'm also sorry this website is so broken I lose all of my paragraph breaks all the time.
Adj_Legs01.jpg
timmolderez (author)  pfred23 years ago
Hm, your design may work as well; I do like the rack mechanism to adjust the angle. I'm just not so sure about making a slot instead of holes. The table would only be locked in position because of the friction of the nut&bolt on the table legs. I'm most definitely no expert, but I imagine that you'd have to turn the nut so tight that it would start to damage the wood, even with a washer. Not sure though..
With a name like Not Sure you could be President!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/quotes?qt=qt0427927

I'm sure it'd work. It doesn't take much friction to hold wood in place. Nails work right? Even the carriage bolt sliding in the slot works. They're engineered to hold wood without crushing it. I'm working with an oak right now that is hard like iron! I cut it down out of my backyard myself.

We grow the best oak on the planet here. I'm in the process of finishing it now. All it has is stain on the smooth sides at the moment. I'll finish over all of it though. It may not look like it but the joinery I used on it was pretty tricky. The legs splay at a 10 degree angle. It held together pretty good even before I nailed it up.

I predrilled for the nails though. I didn't want the wood to split when I drove them in. The shanks are 3/8s of an inch in diameter. Even with 1/4" pilots they weren't easy to sink!

Bench_Side.jpgBench_End.jpg
timmolderez (author)  pfred23 years ago
Ah, I underestimated wood then; told you I was no expert :) *heads on over to to IMDb to check out what this Idiocracy is all about*
It is the future. Definitely deserved a higher rating than it got too. Not Sure.

Wood can be kind of funny. Some hardwoods are soft, and some softwoods are hard! Anything on this chart with a value over 1,000 should do the trick I'd imagine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janka_hardness_test

Taking various traits into account for me ash, maple and oak stand out as good choices.
timmolderez (author)  greemo3 years ago
You're right, you could also adjust the angle with just the removable pin. However, it's not very easy; it does take some messing about to adjust the table to both the height and angle that you want. (I know because I actually whipped up a tiny prototype with a couple of Lego Technic pieces; can be handy to test whether some mechanism also works in practice :) )
Like a TV tray table sort of.
ham911853 years ago
this is a cool design, im currently working on a drafting board that is removable from the stand, and also adjusts to various angles :)
timmolderez (author)  ham911853 years ago
Thanks, good luck on building your drafting board :)
This is a very smart design. Great explanation too. :D
timmolderez (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
Thank you; I had to make a lot of stupid designs before I got to this one though :) "Oh wait, I forgot about gravity.. Well, I'm sure it would totally work in space though."