Introduction: Removable Drafting Table

I'm a bit short on space in a studio apartment, and I don't exactly have room for a full desk to house my computer as well as drafting/drawing area for creating. Since I use the space for art as well as digital design and creation (that doesn't always require a drafting surface), I wanted a surface that is removable.

I've had a portable drawing table that I've used on and off for years, but it doesn't fit with my iMac while leaving flat usable space on my desk. A few easy changes to the drafting table and I now have a way to remove it, without damaging the desk and to give me a way to my computer too.

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For this project, you'll need:

  1. Desk (something reasonably sturdy that can hold-up to a clamp)
  2. Drafting Surface - This is the portable drafting surface that was used (24in by 36in)
  3. Speedball Hinge Clamp Pair for Screen Printing
  4. Screws - choose screws to best suit your drafting surface (you'll be fixing the clamps to your drafting surface "permanently", not your workspace). For this drafting surface, wood screws were used since the drafting surface is a wood composite (hinge clamps did not come with screws)
  5. Rubber pads for the clamps (optional depending on your desk surface)

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Tools:

  • Power Drill
  • Drill-bit (matched to your screw size)
  • Screw-driver
  • Ruler or Measuring Tape
  • Pencil

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Notes:

The desk I'm using is a wood composite surface that is 1.75 inches thick. The clamps are able to adjust up for a a surface that is just about 2 inches thick. I've not attached this configuration to a glass table, but it may work if you are able to add rubber pads to the clamp anchors.

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Step 1: Attaching Clamps to the Drafting Surface

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To attach the clamps to the drafting surface:

  1. Flip the drafting surface over
  2. Starting at the bottom edge of the surface:
    • Measure up from the bottom of the drafting surface - 4.75 inches
    • Make a mark two marks
    • Draw a line between each mark
  3. Starting from each side of the drawing surface:
    • Measure in towards the center of the surface - 11 inches
    • Use this as an alignment line for the edge of the clamp that will be closest to each side of the drafting table

  4. Position your clamps so the edges meet your guide-lines:
    • Once you have determined the position of the clamps, use a pencil to mark drill-hole guides
    • Take the clamps off the surface
  5. Now that you have your drill guides, prep your drill-bit to make pilot-holes for your screws:
    • Using a piece of masking tape, mark off the depth on your drill-bit, so to avoid drilling through the surface
    • Drill pilot-holes for your screws
  6. Attach your clamps to the surface with screws:
    • I recommend using a screw driver so you don't over-tighten or strip the heads of your screws

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Notes:

  • You'll notice in the pictures that holes were drilled closer to the bottom edge of the drafting surface. When the surface was originally mounted to a desk, the surface was not hanging far enough off the edge of the desk and felt too high to comfortably use. Holes were re-drilled for the final clamp position.
  • You can experiment with positioning of the clamps but keep in mind that as you get closer to the "center" of the surface, your may encounter a weight/balance issue that could result in the surface swinging forward - depending on the weight of objects that you might use on the drafting surface or if applying any body-weight on the surface.
  • If you are using a similar drafting surface, make sure that the clamp positions do not interfere with the straight-edge wire/string system built-in to the surface, so not to wear-down or cause the string to stretch.
  • After marking the original guidelines, adjustments so my lines and clamps do not align. The measurements noted in the steps above are based on the final clamp position shown in image examples.

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Step 2: Clamping Your Drafting Surface to Your Desk

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Once you've completed aligning and screwing your clamps to the drafting surface:

  1. Adjust your clamp to be slightly wider than the thickness of your desk
  2. Grab the top edge of the drafting surface and stand it up vertically, with the clamps at the bottom facing towards your desk
  3. After positioning the clamps on your desk, lay the drafting surface down on the existing handle/support legs (built-in to the Portable Drawing Board)
  4. Tighten your clamps to the desk

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To remove the surface and use your desk again:

  1. Loosen the clamps
  2. Tilt the drawing surface up vertically (resting on the clamps)
  3. Hold the top-edge of the surface and pull the board off your desk slowly from the bottom of the surface

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If you have a chance to try this out, let me know how it works for you! If you've got any ideas to share, I'd love to hear them!

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Comments

author
tomatoskins (author)2015-05-29

Really cool idea!

author
urwilerarts (author)2015-06-28

JZ... Glad that you like this! I'm totally digging your light idea. I've been thinking about getting a light table for some art projects I want to create and now instead of buying one, I'm going to make one! Thank you for your idea!

author
JZ1821 (author)2015-06-27

Awesome idea! as a beginner in the art world I've been having to use the kitchen table (much bigger) than my desk ... now I can create a removable tabletop plus, I think I'll add on to the idea and add a light so I can really get into my animation :) Thanks for sharing this!

author
bathsheba_everdene (author)2015-05-30

I have been trying to figure out how to make a removable drafting tabletop to attach to my existing desk for some time. Thanks!

author

You are welcome! I hope this works for you as well as it has for me!

author
arvevans (author)2015-05-31

This type of professional drafting surface ( the ones with aluminium ruler and X-connected string to keep the ruler perfectly parallel ) is fairly expensive. Maybe someone should work up an Instructable on how to build the drafting surface itself. Seems that the most difficult part to source would be suitable pulleys.

author
urwilerarts (author)arvevans2015-06-01

I was able to pick-up the drafting surface on-line for about $60 on sale for the 24 by 36inch. A good time to buy these is during back-to-school. Sites like jerrysartarama.com are also great for art supply deals. Jerry's regularly has some excellent sales and promotions online and in-store - if you have one near by!

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