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BUILD YOUR OWN

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DRAFTING TABLE

A woodworking project by John Petersen

www.petersenart.com

A woodworking project by John Petersen www.petersenart.com This is a project I completed a few years

This is a project I completed a few years ago. I wanted a new drafting table, but I was very unsatisfied with the selection available in the stores. Drafting tables are wierd. For a simple piece of furniture that you get in the store, they're ridiculously overpriced. For any decent store-bought model, you're going to pay $150 to $200 for essentially a simple steel frame and a big piece of laminate. They're also cheap looking.

I decided to build my own table and customize it to my preferences. I got ideas from some other designs and made some sketches. Then I built a computer model of what it would look like. I played around with dimensions, positioning, and so forth. Eventually I came up with the design above. It's a very satisfying experience, well worth the time and effort.

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any accidents or injuries you may incur while undertaking this project. This is a collection of plans for a drafting table. It is NOT an instructional guide on the safe and proper use of power tools. Always use eye and hearing protection. It's also a good idea to remove all rings and jewelry before operating any shop machinery.

Be safe and be smart.

©2007 John M. Petersen. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied and distributed without the express written permission of the author.

DRAFTING TABLE

MATERIALS LIST

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WOOD A 1 Table Top ¾" × 42" × 30" B 2 Joiners ¾" ×
WOOD
A 1
Table Top
¾" × 42" × 30"
B 2
Joiners
¾" × 24" × 4"
C 2
Top Struts
¾" × 22" × 3"
D 2
Bottom Struts
¾" × 23" × 3"
E 2
Upper Legs
¾" × 23" × 3"
F 2
Lower Legs
¾" × 28" × 3"
G 2
Pivot Rails
¾" × 20" × 1½"
H 1
Top Crossbar
¾" × 32" × 3"
I Bottom Crossbar
1
¾" × 33½" × 3"
J 1
Paper Rest
¾" × 42" × 1¼"
K 6
Spacers
¾" × 2" × 2"

HARDWARE

hex-head bolts, ⅜" x 2½"HARDWARE carriage bolts, ⅜" × 3" carriage bolts, ⅜" × 4" at least 24 wood screws,

carriage bolts, ⅜" × 3"HARDWARE hex-head bolts, ⅜" x 2½" carriage bolts, ⅜" × 4" at least 24 wood screws,

carriage bolts, ⅜" × 4"⅜" x 2½" carriage bolts, ⅜" × 3" at least 24 wood screws, flathead, 10 ×

at least 24 wood screws, flathead, 10 × 1¼"bolts, ⅜" × 3" carriage bolts, ⅜" × 4" 8 wood screws, flathead, 10 × 1¾"

8 wood screws, flathead, 10 × 1¾"× 4" at least 24 wood screws, flathead, 10 × 1¼" washers, ⅜" nuts, ⅜" star

washers, ⅜"10 × 1¼" 8 wood screws, flathead, 10 × 1¾" nuts, ⅜" star knobs with ⅜"

nuts, ⅜"8 wood screws, flathead, 10 × 1¾" washers, ⅜" star knobs with ⅜" tapped female insert

star knobs with ⅜" tapped female insert (see below) (see below)

aa

bb

cc

dd

ee

4

2

2

8

4

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TOOLS

Table saw or circular sawTOOLS Drill press (hand drill will also work) Router with ⅜” straight bit Power sander Wrenches

Drill press (hand drill will also work)TOOLS Table saw or circular saw Router with ⅜” straight bit Power sander Wrenches Phillips-head screwdriver

Router with ⅜” straight bitTOOLS Table saw or circular saw Drill press (hand drill will also work) Power sander Wrenches

Power sanderor circular saw Drill press (hand drill will also work) Router with ⅜” straight bit Wrenches

Wrenchessaw Drill press (hand drill will also work) Router with ⅜” straight bit Power sander Phillips-head

Phillips-head screwdriverTable saw or circular saw Drill press (hand drill will also work) Router with ⅜” straight

MISCELLANEOUS Stain & varnish Paintbrush Wood filler putty Sandpaper ⅛” x 6” x 6” rubber
MISCELLANEOUS
Stain & varnish
Paintbrush
Wood filler putty
Sandpaper
⅛” x 6” x 6” rubber sheet (optional)

I looked around some websites that sell tables similar to this, and their cheapest models, usually pine, cost at least $300. The more expensive models, such as oak or walnut, go from $400 to $550. A cherry model will set you back over $600. My table cost about $75 in materials (excluding tools).

I built my table out of a big 4' × 8' piece of birch plywood, although if I were to do it again I'd use solid wood. Pine is the

cheapest wood, but it is usually full of knots that can be tough to drill through. Most home-improvement stores now sell "select pine", which is higher quality and has fewer knots. Oak is solid, but it's also very heavy and a little pricey. Poplar is a good mid-grade wood to use, although it tends to stain on the greenish side, and it’s a bit soft. The important thing is to make sure you get a piece that is very straight, with no warping and as few knots as possible.

For the table top piece (A) you have several options. If you want a nice solid wood look, you can glue up a wood panel and apply several coats of varnish. You can also use plywood with veneer, or even a piece of laminate. Just remember what you’re using this for; you’re probably going to be splattering ink and paint, cutting with x-acto knives, and otherwise abusing the surface.

I ordered my star knobs from J.W. Winco, Inc. (http://www.jwwinco.com). They were really great in making sure I got the size I needed, and you don't necessarily have to buy them in bulk. The part number I ordered is 6TJ03/K. They change the part number occasionally, so if they do just ask for star knobs with ⅜" tapped female insert.

www.petersenart.com

©2007 John M. Petersen. All Rights Reserved.

DRAFTING TABLE

DIMENSIONS

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Here are the dimensions for the more complex pieces. The outer dimensions for everything not mentioned here (such as the table top) can be found on the previous page.

Pivot Rail (G) 5½” 20” 4¾” ⅜” pilot hole for pivot bolt 11⅜” ⅜”-wide groove
Pivot Rail (G)
5½”
20”
4¾”
⅜” pilot hole
for pivot bolt
11⅜”
⅜”-wide groove
Lower Leg (F) 28” 17½” 8” Pilot holes for screws to match holes on lower
Lower Leg (F)
28”
17½”
8”
Pilot holes for screws
to match holes on lower strut

To make the slots in the pivot rails, I used a plunge router with a ⅜” bit.

Note: When making these pieces, be sure to

a ⅜” bit. Note: When making these pieces, be sure to rout the grooves before you

rout the grooves before you cut out the whole piece, unless you have a router table. I didn't, and I had to make an

elaborate clamping system to hold these pieces still and at the same time not interfere with the router.

Upper Leg (E) 23” 1⅜” 8” All holes in this piece are ⅜”, centered on
Upper Leg (E)
23”
1⅜”
8”
All holes in this piece are ⅜”,
centered on the board’s width.
Measurements are to hole centers.
1⅜”

The rounded edges on the upper/lower legs, pivot rails and spacers can be cut with a jigsaw or rounded over with a coarse sanding drum. An easy thing to do for the spacers is to cut them from stock with a 2” hole saw.

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Struts C ⅞” 1⅝” 1⅛”, centered on piece 1” 7” D Pilot holes for screws
Struts
C
⅞”
1⅝”
1⅛”,
centered on piece
1”
7”
D
Pilot holes for screws
to match holes on lower leg
(exact dimensions aren’t important, as
long as the two pieces match)

The top and bottom struts are cut to the same size, 22" x 3". Then, to make the slanted edges, carefully cut a triangle out of each end as shown, 7" across and 1" down from the edge.

©2007 John M. Petersen. All Rights Reserved.

DRAFTING TABLE

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A dd J B dd cc cc C H ee aa = ⅜ x 3”
A
dd
J
B
dd
cc
cc
C
H
ee
aa
= ⅜ x 3” carriage bolt
bb
= ⅜ x 4” carriage bolt
F
cc
= ⅜ x 2½“ hex-head bolt
dd
= #10 x 1¼” flathead woodscrew
E
ee
= #10 x 1¾” flathead woodscrew
K
G
K
bb
I
K
aa
ee
D
dd
fig. 1

Figure 1 is an exploded view of half the table so that you can better see how it all fits together. Again, none of these measure- ments are set in stone. You can tweak them as you see fit.

First assemble the base, which consists of the bottom struts (D), lower legs (F), and the bottom crossbar (I). Fasten the crossbar to the legs with wood screws (refer to dimensions). Then assemble the middle portion (upper legs and top crossbar - it should form the shape of an H).

Next assemble the top. First, fasten each top joiner (B) to its top strut (C) with 3 wood screws. Then fasten the joiner/strut combined pieces to the bottom of the table top with 6 wood screws each. NOTE: Be very careful in measuring out your wood screw holes for the table top. The exact locations of the wood screws aren’t important, but space them out evenly as shown in this illustration.

It’s a good idea to attach the top struts and joiners to the middle portion (H-structure) with the pivot bolts (through pieces C and E), turn the table top upside-down, and then lay the whole thing out (parts H+E+C+B) on the center of the table top to fasten the joiners to the table top. Upon final assembly, the pivot bolts shoudln’t be super tight; they simply serve as a pivot.

Next page: Details and finishing

www.petersenart.com

©2007 John M. Petersen. All Rights Reserved.

DRAFTING TABLE

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DETAILS AND FINISHING

J A
J
A

fig. 2: The paper stop (J) is flush with the bottom of the table top (A) and extends higher than the table top’s thickness.

K Rubber washers K F
K
Rubber washers
K
F

fig. 3: Rubber washers cut from ⅛”-thick rubber sheet can strengthen the grips of the adjustment knobs.

Attach the paper rest (J) to the table top (A), either with wood glue or wood screws. If you use wood screws, be sure to countersink the recesses and fill in with wood putty afterward to hide the screws. Sand flush. Be sure to attach the two pieces so that the bottom of the paper rest is flush with the bottom of the flat surface (fig. 2). For the paper stop itself I just used a piece of pre-routed oak trim. As long as the piece is wider than ¾”.

Since friction is what keeps the table’s adjustment in place, adding large rubber washers in between the spacers and the table legs will improve the grip of the table (fig 3). You can find a ⅛“ x 6” x 6” piece of rubber in the plumbing section of any home improvement store. I cut mine out with an x-acto knife to match the size of the spacers.

NOTE ON VARNISH:

surfaces of E and F that slide against each other). If two varnished surfaces are tightened together for any length of time, it is extremely difficult to slide them apart again to readjust the table, especially if the coat is fresh.

to readjust the table, especially if the coat is fresh. Do not add varnish to any

Do not add varnish to any surface of the table that slides against another surface (for example, the

www.petersenart.com

©2007 John M. Petersen. All Rights Reserved.