Introduction: Update an Old Drawing Board

About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instruc…

I was over at my parents place looking through my dad's shed for some wood for a project I was thinking of doing.  In the pile of scrap wood I found an old drafting/drawing board. It was a nice coincidence since I had resolved myself to learn how to draw and this would be very useful. My dad wasn't sure were it had come from but I am guessing that it may have been left behind by my brother when he moved out (many years ago).

Unfortunately the board was in pretty bad shape, there was paint, grooves and some unidentified goo on the surface.  So I cleaned up the surface, covered it with white cupboard paper, attached legs so that it could sit at an angle, and added an adjustable pencil tray.

(I hope my brother doesn't want it back now that I fixed it up).

Step 1: What You Will Need

  • drawing board (this is the closest thing I could find that looks like what I have)
  • white cupboard liner
  • rubber furniture feet ~2.5 inches high
  • metal shaft (for the legs)
  • plywood board 1ft by 6in, 1/4in thick
  • wood 3/4inchX1/4inch thick 12inches long
  • wood dowels
  • elastic band 1/2inch wide
  • elastic string
  • thumb tacks
  • metal straps or metal hose clamps

  • saw
  • hammer nails
  • drill
  • wood glue
  • glue
  • scissors
  • sandpaper

Step 2: Cover

As I mentioned in the intro this drawing board was quite a mess to begin with. I had pried, scraped and sand off as much as I could.
I managed to get the surface smooth but but it didn't look very nice.  I notice that the majority of drawing boards that you can buy have nice white surfaces so I covered mine with white cupboard liner. 

To apply:  Gently stick the paper on one end and move down to the other end using something flat to press it down. Remove all air bubbles or bumps.

Step 3: Legs

I noticed that most drawing boards and drawing tables are tilted for a more comfortable drawing position.  Since my board just lies flat I added legs on one side and rubber feet on each corner too raise the height of the board and to add traction when the board is tilted up. I used chair leg caps for the feet (they are hollow inside and open on one end so I stuck a cork inside) and glued one on each corner with gorilla glue.

For the legs I happened to have two plastic-tipped metal brackets from a cat window perch (which of course my cat never used). Conveniently, they were the right size and held the board at nice angle, plus they were quite sturdy. (Metal shafts dipped into plasti-dip and bent at one end would work as well.)  I wanted to be able to remove the legs when the board was not in use for easy storage.  So instead of screwing the legs on I made a metal sleeve to slide the legs into.  I used metal hose clamps, measured where the legs would fit and hammered them onto the back of the board with short nails.

Step 4: Pencil Tray

I really liked the way the t-square fit into the side of the drawing board.  It got me thinking that it would be nice if all of my drawing tools can be stored with the board.  I came up with the idea to make this adjustable pencil tray made from plywood and hinged wood arms. It folds over the top of the board so all of the pencils etc. are within reach when drawing and then folds away to the back of the board for storage.

I tested the layout of the pencil tray first on cardboard.  Once I was happy with the layout I transferred it to a 12inX6inX1/4in piece of plywood.  For the 11 pencil set, to attach the elastic, I drilled 12 small holes in the wood 11mm apart starting 15mm from the end.  I made two sets of these holes 80mm apart.

Step 5: Pencil Tray

I measured and marked 12 spots on the elastic 15mm apart. I sewed the elastic to the board at each mark coming up from underneath, through the hole, through the fabric at the spot I marked, down through the fabric and through the same hole out the bottom.  I trimmed  and applied glue to the ends to prevent fraying.

I made four elastic loops for the set of pens and smudge sticks.  I used the same spacing (11mm apart for the holes and 15mm apart marks on the elastic). These were placed 40mm from the edge and 50mm away from the holes made for the pencil set.  

I added four additional elastic loops for the erasers, pencil sharpener and pencil leads and a place to put a small ruler on the back of the tray.

Step 6: Tray Arms

To make the tray arms I used:
  • four 19X19X19mm cubes
  • four 19X40X4mm pieces
  • two 19X60x4mm pieces
I cut and sanded them. Drilled holes through the centre of the cubes. Drilled holes 7.5mm from the ends of each of the pieces. (The holes match the size of the dowels that you will use). I sanded the corners of each of the pieces so that they are curved. I then fit them together with the dowels to form the arms.

Step 7: Tray Arms

Attaching the arms:
  • The one cube on each arm will be attached to the board the other cube to the tray.
  • I marked the spot on the tray 70mm from the end and lined it up to the centre point of the cube. I glued the cube to the back of the pencil tray  with wood glue. And repeated this with the other arm.
  • Once the glue had dried I measured the distance between the arms and used this to centre the tray to the board
  • I marked where the cubes should go and glued them to the back of the drawing board with wood glue.
  • When the glue had dried I reassembled the arms and trimmed off the ends of the dowels.

Step 8: Back of the Board

I made two velcro fasteners to hold the legs when the board was not in use.  I taped the loops and hook parts of the velcro together with duct tape and then glued them onto the back of the board.

Step 9: Back of the Board:

To secure the pencil tray when it is folded away on the back of the board I added a little knob on the back of the pencil tray and secured it with elastic.  The knob was made from a wood dowel and notched on one side to catch the elastic.  The elastic was looped and tied then attached to the back of the drawing board with a thumb tack.

Step 10: Back of the Board: Triangle

I found one of the triangles that originally came with the board. I attached it to the back of the board with elastic string and thumb tacks.  I secured the string to the tacks on the sides of the triangle and just looped the string around the tack along the hypotenuse.
There should be another triangle that originally came with the board that I am still hoping to find and there is still room on the back of the board for it.

Step 11: Other Options


Good lighting is important when drawing. A clamp desk light. Would make a nice addition to the drawing board.  I felt I didn't need one since the table I place my drawing board  has nice overhead lighting.

Turning the drawing board into a table

I had initially considered doing this but realized I really didn't have the room in my condo to place another table, even if it folded away.  But if I had more room I might try it.  I was thinking of placing the drawing board on something like a TV tray that you can fold away and attaching the board to the tray with hinges on one side and being able the adjust the height at the back much like canuckinjapan did with his.

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