Good N' Easy Drafting / Design Table




About: In a past life I was a scenic designer, living in New York and building plays and fashion shows. Now, life has slowed down a bit and I'm figuring out how to be a good husband and dad.

This is an easy to build drafting and design table. All of the components are easy to find at hardware stores or through scavenging.

Sorry I don't have pictures of the construction, I didn't even think of posting this until months after I had completed it. Here's a final picture, showing this thing in place. A little messy, but very useful.

The reason I designed it the way I did is so that I could have a drafting area in front of the computer screen and still have space on the right-hand side for my paint, pencils, X-Acto's, whatever.

Since building this thing, I've figured out some improvements that I've put into the instructions... With all that said, On with the show!

Step 1: Materials and Tools List

Here's what you need. This stuff is easy to find. You may even have some of it laying around.

1.) 4' x 8' Plywood:
If you already have it, great! If you have to buy it, get a sheet that will have a smooth face that will be the working surface. Just remember, the nicer the face, the more the price.

2.) 28" x 80" Hollow Body Door:
The door doesn't have to be these dimensions exactly, but I found that this size works well.

3.) 1 1/2" Drywall Screws:
Usually a no-no in the carpentry world, but... eh. You can use wood screws if you want to be fancy.

4.) 1/2" Drywall Screws:
You only need a few of these. Again, substitute wood screws for fancy-pants points.

5.) 2 x Door Hinges
I think the ones that I used were 6" wide. You don't have to get anything too heavy duty, but don't try getting away with tiny, cheapy hinges.

6.) Folding table legs:
These come in a set of two. Usually about $20-25.

Straight Edge
Tape Measure
Screw Gun or Screwdriver
Circular Saw

No Circular Saw?
If you don't have a circular saw, or don't have space to make the cuts yourself, you can usually pay a little extra and have the lumberyard of hardware store do the cuts for you. This is actually the method I prefer, because they usually use a panel saw, which gives a nice cut. I also live in an apartment with nowhere to work.

Step 2: The Cuts

Here's a diagram showing all the cuts and the usage of the pieces.

If your door is too long and you need to cut it down: SAVE THE CUT OFF END. The hollow body doors need to have a capped end. You see that little light colored piece, between the wood sheets? That's what you need. Strip the wood sheets away, and shove that piece of wood into the open end with a little wood glue. Clamp it in and let it dry.

Step 3: Attaching the Legs

Line the edge of the leg plate up with the edge of the door. Screw the leg plates onto the bottom of the door using 1 1/2" screws. 1 every 6 inches or so along the perimeter should be plenty. Remember, the part you want the screws to go into is only around the edge.

Next attach the folding table legs. Use the screws that come in the package. There are small, steel brackets that need to be screwed to the leg plates. Line them up to the edge, center them, and screw them down.

As you can see from the picture, I didn't use a plywood leg plate. It's a good idea to use one, because the door skin is very thin and doesn't hold screws well. My table was from scrap, so I didn't have enough wood :(

Step 4: Drafting Table Top

To make the drafting table top, draw a line 8" from the top and 10" from the bottom of the table top.

Pre-drill the edge of the table riser (plywood will split if you try to put a screw into its edge without pre-drilling it). Line it up with the top line, and screw it in from the top of the table using 1 1/2" screws. By adjusting how close the riser is to the top edge, you can change the angle of the drafting table.

Line the door hinges up with the line that is 10" from the bottom, and screw it in using 1/2" screws. You can go up to 3/4" pretty safely, but anything longer will poke through the table top.

Next put the drafting table on top of the door and screw the hinge into the edge of the door using
1 1/2" screws. Place the drafting table top in the location that best suits you.

Step 5: Optional Options

I attached a rubber mat to the drafting table top using some contact cement. The real professional stuff is called Borco. I think that stuff is overpriced so I used dance floor covering. I've seen a black rubberized sheet at Lowe's (for under floors?) that looked like it would be comparable.

Instead of legs you can use file cabinets or some fancy rolling carts you can find at Ikea.

If you need an adjustable angle drafting table, you can rig up some rails. I hardly ever adjust the angle, but if I need to, I use phone books.

A gliding parallel straight-edge is a great addition to any drafting table.



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    14 Discussions

    Your Isometric view is so good it gave me an idea for the right hand table end.
    Make the leg support plate a shelf by spacing the plate below the door under surface with two 2x6 lenghts and cut off the right legs to match the 2x6 and plate drop. Do use the 'elmers' super ext wood glue. Great job!


    7 years ago on Step 2

    How much of an angle do you get from a 1-1/2" tall riser? I'm a comm-art and graphic design student. I do a lot of work at home, and I prefer a bit more angle that what you describe. Adding an inch or two won't affect your design... of course, that's my thinking. Thanks for the instructable.


    8 years ago on Step 2

    I'm sorry I really do not get the part about the riser, and where to put it?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    The riser goes under the drafting table top. It just gives it a bit of an angle so that working on it is easier.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    this definitely would have been useful studying industrial design! nice and simple


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Damn, not much space for model making, what do you do for 1/4" scale models?? Desk looks good. A suggestion: For $30 you can buy a tilting monitor mount (screws into wall, screws into monitor). IF you had that, you could mount it to the wall right behind where it is now, clearing up some space for more pen/pencil bins, etc.

    Doctor What

    11 years ago on Introduction

    God, they need this in school. It would make the experience so much enjoyable.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    very cool idea! i've been thinking about the same project to upgrade my workstation at home but this one's more sleek and fitting to my needs. thanks! more power! :)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, thanks for the pointers on the surface material. I just got a couple drafting tables that were used in a high school for multiple decades and the surface is trashed. Do you have any more details on the dance floor covering you used? Nice instructable, the diagrams are really helpful.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I work in the theatre industry, so I got the dance floor from some old stuff they were throwing out. It comes in huge rolls, so I don't know if the companies that sell it will only sell a small amount. I'm not sure what type mine is. Harlequin is a company that makes dance floor cover (Google them). Their Cascade line looks close to what I have, but I'm not positive.