Cheap Drafting Table Made From Plywood




About: I am a freelance translator living in Japan. I like to create furniture and signs etc. using reclaimed wood. See my blog for photos of other projects, and a link to my 3D models on the 3DWarehouse. My "How t...

I have wanted a drafting/drawing table for awhile, but did not want to spend a few hundred dollars on a large commercial one.
I created this design to fit onto a 90 x 180 cm piece of plywood (standard size here in Japan), and it can be scaled to 4 x 8' using the included Google Sketchup 3D design file.
(Click on the [i] at the top left of photos to see an enlarged version.)

Materials used
- One 90 x 180 cm piece of plywood (1.2 cm thick)
- One 60 x 90 cm laminated wood table top (1.8 cm thick)
- One 2.7 x 90 cm strip of wood for the table top lip (0.5 cm thick)
- Two 4 cm dowels (1 cm diameter)
- Two 2 x 5 cm supports for arches (2 cm thick)
- Several 3 cm wood screws to hold the table base together
- Two hinges for the table top
- Four 1.2 cm screws to attach hinges
- Wood putty to hide screws
- White paint (optional)

Tools used
- Handheld circular saw
- Handheld jig saw
- Power drill
- Phillips screwdriver ("+" tip)
- Countersink drill bit
- Straight-edge guide and clamps for straight cuts

The attached Sketchup file shows the 3D assembled drafting table, as well as the cutting pattern of the plywood.
I have entered this instructable in the Shopbot challenge, I appreciate your vote - thanks!

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Step 1: Cutting the Plywood

The first step is to cut the plywood sheet (measurements included in the diagram, or refer to the Sketchup file).
I used a circular saw for the straight cuts, and a jig saw for the arched supports.
The square cutouts in the top of the base were made by drilling holes and cutting out the square with the jig saw.
I used plywood that has one side pre-painted (used in construction for concrete forms) which provides a smoother surface for painting. I painted the outside surfaces white to match my computer desk.

Step 2: Assembling the Drafting Table

Putting together the table is pretty straightforward.
I do not have a biscuit cutter or dowel jig etc. so I just attached all the pieces with wood screws.
Screw locations are not shown in the diagrams, but it should be fairly evident where to insert them.
(The back side supports are screwed from the left and right sides. The top piece of plywood is screwed from above.)
For the arched table top supports, I inserted screws from the underside so the table top is smooth.

I used a countersink drill bit so the screws will go 1 or 2 mm below the surface, then applied wood putty after inserting the screws.
This way the screws are not visible after painting.

Step 3: Attaching the Hinged Table Top

I chose to give my drafting table top an overhang of 2 - 3 cm on each side.
This makes it a bit more difficult to attach the hinges than if the table top is flush with the top of the base.
I attached the hinges to the top of the base first, then to the underside of the table top (this requires an assistant).

In the second photo you can see the type of hinges used. The type I used fit in between the table top and base and take up less than 2 mm thickness, with the pin part of the hinge hanging over the edge of the base.

The arched supports take a bit of work to get lined up with the square holes in the top of the base.
I inserted screws from the underside, and outside as you can see in the photo.

After mounting the arched supports, I drilled 1 cm diameter holes from the left and right sides.
 I supported the table top at the desired angles, then drilled from the outside all the way through each support in the appropriate position.
The 1 cm dowels fit through both holes to support the table top at the desired angle.

The last step was to attach the thin strip of wood along the bottom edge of the table top (to prevent things from sliding off the top when at an angle).

Step 4: The Finished Drafting Table

It's not the slickest looking drafting table, but it cost less than $50 (USD) to build, and it more than does the job.
I use mine mostly for working on hand carved and/or painted signs. (The black material is a non-slip rubber mat that is great for keeping wood in place when carving or sanding etc.)
I would recommend using plywood that is 2 cm (3/4") if available, for greater strength.

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    20 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Would this work well for architectural drafting?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    This table is lower than commercially available drafting tables, so you will have to use a lower seat, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.
    If you are using a drafting machine etc., just make sure that the table top has sufficient overhang for it to be mounted and moved around.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Sir,

    I am very interested in building this but, I cannot download the instructions. I would love for you to send me a detailed plans to build this please. Thank you if you need anything from me you can contact me through Facebook. Thanks again Sandy


    5 years ago on Introduction

    woow i loved this! great job, i think its easy and very usefull.

    im making it this weekend, ill post some pics when its done :D !


    5 years ago

    You should put furniture moving pads at the bottom


    5 years ago on Introduction

    nice table my daughter will love it when I get it done


    7 years ago on Introduction

    really good plan! I will post this on the woodworker forum I'm contributing too. Guess some of them would like to have such a table. My vote: +5!

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, I tried to yesterday, but the furniture contest started the day after I posted this tutorial, so it's not eligible.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Not right that you aren't eligible to enter this in the contest. Instructables made it's mark, by persons contributing content for free. All contributions should be eligible for contest entry. . No doubt they run the contests as an incentive to gain more free content, but there's a case to be made, that by not allowing all contribution to be eligible there's a risk the contests could be an incentive, not to post projects to instructables at all. As a for profit venture Instructables needs, the DIY community more than then that community need Instructables.

    Great job! I've been wanting something like this for awhile.
    These look just like the animation tables at my previous college. All it needs is a hole in the middle of the desk for the animation disk and of course a short goose neck lamp of some kind you could screw in the back for the lights up the window on the disk for paper flipping est.

    Of course if it was me I would save the cut circle and place it back when i just want a plain old drawing/creative table.

    1 reply

    >These look just like the animation tables at my previous college.

    I actually thought about making it into a light table as well, but I haven't done any hand-drawn animation since college so I just went with a plain table top.


    Thanks for the input - good idea.
    I had actually attached little rubber strips under the four corners of the base for that same reason (irregularities in flooring etc. means it may not sit flat on some surfaces).

    Very good clean desk project. I like it. What I did was added a two inch deep radius to the leg floor edge to create four corner feet by a band saw or your jig saw. Why, you ask? It desk sets more comfortable on a rough tiled floor than as shown here.