Introduction: Hideaway Drafting Table

Picture of Hideaway Drafting Table

Limited space?
Enjoy a stand up desk?

For years I've dreamed of having a drafting table in the apartment but was unwilling to sacrifice living space. This project allows for a drafting table to be installed anywhere - even over an existing desk. The Sketchup rendering is from an old apartment and doesn't match the installation but shows the intention.

Enjoy! Jeff

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Here are the suggested tools and materials for building a platform desk.


  • Four Foot Level
  • Hammer
  • Circular Saw & Hand Saw
  • Drill & Drill Bits
  • Screw Drivers
  • Tape Measure
  • Extension Cord
  • Carpenter's Square
  • Paint Brush (not shown)
  • Safety: Goggles/Ear Protection


  • (4) 2x4s
  • (~24) 3" Screws
  • (~12) 1-1/4" Drywall Screws
  • (2) 4x8x5/8" Plywood or OSBPaint
  • Paint (optional)
  • Cork, Acrylic, Blackboard Paint (option for finish)
  • (1) 4" Ceder Strips (optional for trim)
  • Hardware: (2) cleats, (2) latches, (10') chain or rope
  • Hardware: (2-4) hinges -see Hinges Section

Cost: All materials cost around $60 from HD/Lowes/Habitat. All tools cost under $120 and were purchased refurbished online or used off craigslist. Fasteners: I recommend using all screws for the project. --- All materials were salvaged from a previous project of couches as last apartment. Couch frames made the frame for the table.

Step 2: Building the Frame

Picture of Building the Frame

The photos show a frame that is salvaged from the prior couch project. The existing frame was oversized so I cut it down to a 5' width.

To build a frame from scratch.

  • cut the top and bottom piece to length
  • cut the studs to length by subtracting 3" from the desired height (allowing for width of 2x4s) and cutting equal length studs
  • add additional studs as required to provide for shelves inside the hideaway desk
  • secure using 3" screws. two at each connection
  • the last photo shows the back piece of plywood cut to fit the frame and attached with drywall screws 4" from frame connections.

Step 3: Shelves

Picture of Shelves

Add shelves as required.


  • Solid Shelves: I used scrap wood cut to fit to make the shelves. The brown piece shown in the photos is scrap cut to fit and with holes drilled for power cords. I later decided to put the monitor on the first shelf and drilled a second set of holes through the frame.
  • Adjustable: I drilled holes for 1/4" dowels. The dowels are not show but can be installed running along the narrow section on the right side. Much the same way shelves are installed in standard cabinets.

Step 4: Hinges

Picture of Hinges

There are many options for installing hinges. I used 2" hinges I had leftover from another project. The steps can be applied for any size hinge. Adjustments are required for the depth of recessed hinges.

  1. mark out locations on the base of the frame where the hinges will be installed. I spaced them evenly but slightly adjusted for the location of the supports
  2. set the depth of the circular saw blade to match the closed width of the hinges. use the circular saw to notch out for flush mounted hinges.
  3. set the hinges in place and screw them into the frame

Step 5: Desk Surface

Picture of Desk Surface

I used a scrap piece of 1/2" plywood. It is recommended to use 5/8" or 3/4" for a more solid surface.

I painted the back of the plywood. If it is a new sheet of 1/2" plywood avoid painting the back because it could warp while drying. With 5/8" or greater it shouldn't be a problem.

  1. cut to match the size of the frame
  2. paint as required
  3. line up board with the hinges and use a 2x4 and scrap plywood as required to allow the board to sit at 90 degrees to the frame
  4. loosely secure one screw at each hinge before installing the second and finally tightening

Step 6: Wall Mount & Hardware

Picture of Wall Mount & Hardware

Wall Mount

The full assembly is heavy. I recommend fixing a 2x4 to the wall and using that to rest the weight of the desk while using the drywall screws to screw into studs.


Most latches should be usable. For this project I used smaller hinges mounted to the frame and catch screws at the side of the table when in the closed position

Rope/Chain Support

Rope is mounted to the inside of the frame and connects to cleats on the table itself. Chain is preferred to avoid any flex but the rope was at hand.

Thanks for reading! Best of luck!
Jeff -- If you like this project check out where the material came from...

Step 7: Options

Picture of Options

Installing a monitor

I purchased a monitor from goodwill for $20 in San Francisco a few years ago. The monitors available are in great shape and can be tested in store. To install simply remove all hardware and use screws drilled into the frame to hold the monitor in place. Drill holes as required for power cords.

Installing cork or dry erase board

I used a piece of acrylic from a local frame store cut to length. Acrylic is available in white which makes it easy to work with. Avoid paint on or roll on dry erase surfaces. Roll on cork works fine. Blackboard paint is also an option but make sure the surface is smooth.

Mounting a light/radio/phone charger/fan

Drill for power and mount as required

Mounting an extension cord

I mounted an extension cord outside the frame


jprussack (author)2014-09-22

Thanks Fadingroar, hadnt thought to do it but that's a great call! I might have to add some Walltalker. And some Mylar to address the finishing issue called out by Mr. Bomlin. Thanks!

fadingroar (author)2014-09-22

You could even add some surface to the external part for it to be a white board :) amazing work buddy!

bomlin (author)2014-09-22

Great idea. I do have a minor suggestion. If you are going to call this a drafting table, go one more step and add the correct surface to the plywood to make it a real drafting table. Otherwise, great project.

Cristina26 (author)2014-09-19

a dream bulid! cool stuff!

natxc (author)2014-09-17

Great idea! Do you have any pics of it closed up on the wall?

Also, do you think a 2x4 attached to the open end of the desk surface would provide enough stability for drawing on?

jprussack (author)natxc2014-09-18

Natxc - here's a closed shot at one where you can see the stool providing additional support

natxc (author)jprussack2014-09-18

Awesome! Thanks for the added info. I will keep your idea in mind when I have to get rid of my drafting table in a couple months.

jprussack (author)natxc2014-09-17

Thanks Natzc!

Short answer: Yes

You'll see in the photo how the cedar spans at the hinges. I would add a board at the open end to help distribute the load (if using 1/2" stock, as I am). Otherwise the 2x4 should be fine. A stool is providing extra support for my desk and is placed mid span near the open end. (photos to follow)

Mielameri (author)2014-09-17

Secret drafting desk! Great idea! I was thinking along the same lines as pucksurfer: when not in use, it could totally be modded to pull double-duty as wall art :)

jprussack (author)Mielameri2014-09-18

Thanks Mielameri!

Mielameri (author)2014-09-17

Secret drafting desk! Great idea! I was thinking along the same lines as pucksurfer: when not in use, it could totally be modded to pull double-duty as wall art :)

shanaz2904 (author)2014-09-16

all the best bro! best idea

jprussack (author)shanaz29042014-09-17

Thanks Shanaz!

K.hall86 (author)2014-09-16

Awesome idea! I know that IKEA makes a cheap table with a variety of different tops. I'm not too sure on their dimensions, bit it looks similar in size and only cost about $10-$20 for the top alone. It is a very smooth and durable table top, perfect for drafting! only a suggestion for a brilliant idea!

K.hall86 (author)K.hall862014-09-16

jprussack (author)K.hall862014-09-16

Thanks K.hall!

If anyone is really drafting your best bet is a mylar finish.

I prefer real wood over particle board. The link provided is for a product that costs $25 and is only 2'-5" x 2'-5". For the same $25 (max $40) you can buy a piece of 5/8" maple from Home Depot / Lowes. They'll even cut it to size!

pucksurfer (author)2014-09-16

This is really cool. Now you just need to paint something on the wood. And make it seem like a wall painting, and it is kind of hidden.

jprussack (author)pucksurfer2014-09-16

Thanks! The paint I used is Kilz primer. Could totally use a finish coat!

mole1 (author)2014-09-16

Great idea! It should work for making alternative height work surfaces.

jprussack (author)mole12014-09-16


jprussack (author)2014-09-16

Thanks Seamster!

seamster (author)2014-09-16

Nicely done! This looks excellent.

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