Building an Adjustable Drafting Table

Written by alex burke
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Adjustable drafting tables can be adjusted in two ways--in overall height or the tilt of the table top. In some models the table top is set at sitting height. In these models the the top is a separate piece that can be inclined or tilted as needed. The top is attached with a piano hinge along the edge facing the user. The back edge, the edge furthest from the user, is lifted up or down at desired angles and held in place with a prop stick or other hardware. Height-adjustable tables can be built from a plan or created by using pre-made parts.

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Drafting Table Components

The base or legs of the table are often called the frame. These can be stationary, pneumatic or manually adjustable. The need for a sturdy four-point frame is important. This does not necessarily mean four separate legs but does mean four points of contact with the floor or a length of contact and a stabilisation bar connecting the two sides together. The ability to adjust the table top can cause the table to become unstable due to a large amount of weight being tilted in one direction--the more stable the floor contact is the more solid the drafting table.

Smooth Table Surface

Table tops can be solid wood, laminated wood, or melamine. Solid wood or laminated wood should have a table cover or vinyl cover applied across the top. Companies that make this type of cover include Borco and Alvin who makes the product called Vyco. The cover allows for a smooth drawing surface. Exposed wood can cause paper to be punctured or torn.

Drafting Table Legs

If purchasing legs to add a top to, consider adjustable height table legs, telescopic table legs, or extendable legs. If you want a lot of adjustment available in the leg, make sure the description of the leg reveals how much height it gives. Some legs are called adjustable if they allow for levelling. Levelling will only give an inch or so adjustment which is not enough to satisfy most drafting table users. Metalkraft makes an adjustable height, spring lock leg that resembles a card table style leg. This leg will adjust a drafting table height at one inch increments with a total of twenty to thirty inches adjustment on some models.

Adjustable Table Hardware

Adjusting the table top is achieved through hardware. The choice of hardware will depend upon the type of leg chosen. Single four leg bases may require a two tier top---one to attach the legs to and a separate one that lifts at an angle and requires a piano hinge along one side. Hand cut adjustable wood drafting tables use a two part leg---the base and an extension that fits against the base and slides up and down allowing for height adjustments. The top attaches with a piece of hardware that allows the top to swing down and up, locking into place by being tightened.

Special Drafting Tables

Some drafting table designs are two tier table tops that include a low depth box for the base and a top that adjusts as a cover or a tilted drafting top. These are great for storing drawings or drafting tools inside and out of the way. The box should be built first with a hinged top added before setting and attaching it to the base.

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