Drafting Tables

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    Jared Chase

    Hi everybody!
    I recently came across this site and so far have been very impressed. I recently graduated with a degree in Horticulture but have applied and hope to start graduate school next fall for Landscape Architecture. I have a lot of different photos and a few designs to upload but right now I have a really simple discussion.

    All I have now is a “drafting board” and I’m ready to upgrade to a drafting table. Here’s the deal. I don’t want to be the highest quality table but don’t want a table that isn’t going to last either. I’m looking for something that is quality and something that will at least get me through graduate school. My budget is somewhere in the $300 – $400 range. So if anybody has any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!


    Ben Yahr

    hey guys, i’ve got an old ‘mayline’ parallel straightedge i would like to get rid of. major improvement over a t-square.

    similar to this-http://www.engineersupply.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=ES1433&affid=7

    it wouldn’t be hard to attach to any table and you could save a lot compared to a new system.

    i don’t remember the length, let me know if you are interested.


    Funny, in four years in the studio I’ve regressed from a beautiful drafting desk and chair I purchased, to a large, but very beat up flat desk with drawers, to light tables and studio community tables, to this year working mostly on a big flat particle board/laminate table like those you find in cafeterias of public elementary schools. I hardly ever sit and work at my actual studio desk. I dont know why, but I sort of like working in the “public space.” That said, I wouldn’t spend too much on a “drafting table,” as with any luck you’ll be doing very little “drafting” in the studio 😉 The other part of that is in considering the amount of work you may very well be doing on a computer, especially the kind that sits on your desk, ideally, like a laptop. For that, you’ll want a large flat table or shelf or side table. The first studio year in our program is usually so packed that you’re only allowed a very small table and end up spreading over your neighbors area…just some thoughts..good luck..



    A common myth in our studio is that people steal things…they don’t, your pens and markers just tend to “wander” in the heat of design 😉 I’ve never heard of anyone actually getting anything of any real value stolen from our studio, just fyi, though people do lock things, I never have. I’ve also used my mayline about three times about four years ago when I started as a first semester design student. I then realized I wasn’t drafting and learned how to draw straight lines. Your studio will probably have a computer lab, but if it doesnt or even if it does, I would recommend a flat table or just go first week and see whats already there. Typically, there are MANY hand-me-downs to be had.

    Jared Chase

    Thanks a lot for all of the replies! Now I’ve got something to think about but at least I’ve heard a lot of different opinions and some that I never would have thought about. Clay was right though that I’m looking for a table for my house and not the studio. Sorry for not pointing that out before.

    I think that biggest issue with my “drafting board” was the size and that it’s portable, so it can sometimes be difficult to find a comfortable work area. I’m “one of those people” that tends to use A LOT of space, so I’ll take that into consideration also.

    Anyways, thanks a lot for the advice and if anybody else has any recommendations, go ahead and post it.

    Jonathan J. Bob


    All i’ve ever used is a drafting table w/t-square and triangles (I’ve been an LA for 26+ years). In This case size does matter. 4′ x 5′ or 6′ at a minimum. A center storage drawer and a side drawer ar also good for a quick table cleaning (i.e. making it presentable). Also get a table with a center board at foot level. My table does not have one and i’m going to retro-fit something so i dont have to put my feet on the drafting chair ring. Also an easy angle adjustment and pencil stop are also good. BTW my table does not have drawers because I bought it cheap years ago and just haven’t got around to replacing it. Try e-bay and craigs list for good used stuff. Was able to pick up Mayline 5 drawer flat files for $150.
    Good luck


    Jeff Waters

    What is this drafting thing you people speak of??? I didn’t think there were any folks who drafted by hand left in the world.

    Seriously though, spend as little as you can without sacrificing quality. After you get out of school that table may become nothing more than a piece of furniture. I can’t even remember what happened to the table I had while in school.

    Kerri A

    I’ve always bought a used one from a site such as Craigslist.com, eBay, etc. and gotten a great, often homemade table, for not much money. -ka

    Henry Dalton

    I decided to make my own when i was in school. I didn’t want to spend much money either, so i just designed one on my own, we are designers after all. It probably didn’t cost me more than $100 to $150 and it is very big. I can have my computer on it and two projects if i want b/c of the size. But the size is also it’s drawback b/c it takes up a lot of space. But it can be designed to whatever size you are looking for since you are the one building it.

    Mine has a storage area in it the length of the table and it is able to be tilted up too allow you to work on a angled surface. To make it, i went to Lowe’s and bought a wood door (that is why it is so big 7×3′), some 4x4s for the legs, some 2×6’s for the frame and storage area, cheap ply for the bottom of the storage, henges and bolts, and then some 2x2s for the top frame ( two frames so it can be lifted from the front for storage and from the back to tilt the angle of the top).

    It is also built like a tank, unlike the ones we had at school. I have had it for 3 years or so now and it still is like new. The only thing i have changed is the top. The door didn’t allow me to get into the storage area easily since it had to lifted up to get in there. This required the whole desk to be cleared to lift it. To fix the problem i wanted the top to be two sections and i couldn’t cut the door b/c it was hollow. So, i just bought a nice piece of smooth wood for the top and cut it in two sections so that i can get into the storage without clearing the whole desk off. It looks a lot nicer without the door also.

    So i say be innovative and design your own perfect table to your own specs. Mine has worked out great, cost little and will last forever.

    Henry M. Dalton

    Jared Chase

    Thanks again. I’ve heard a lot of different things but there is a consensus about one thing: Don’t spend too much.

    I’ve decided that I’m probably going to but a table that has already been made. I would build my own but I don’t really have the time and all of my power tools are back at my parents home. Craigslist would be a great option but I don’t live in a big city, so there aren’t many listings in my area. Thanks for the suggestions though.

    One more question I have though. I’m going to be in Las Vegas next month and thought about going to a Dick Blick store. Are their prices similar to those in the catalog? Another other places I should check out in the Vegas area??

    J. Waldron, RLA

    Why not design and build your own? For that budget, you could build 10 of them. You shouldn’t need any tools except for a basic drill. Any lowes store could cut the wood to your specs for free.

    Vance W. Hall

    Go to local architectural, landscape architectural, and civil firms and ask if they have any unused drafting tables that they would sell. With the Auto CAD age there are many tables that have been put into storage to make room for a few more bodies in the office. I would start there and who knows you may find a gem.


    Malcolm Hachborn

    I have 3 drafting tables (Leonar Neolt) with mechanical track arms for sale. Let me know if you are still looking for something. These are professional tables that run in the $3000 to $4000 range but we are selling for $850 each or $2000 for all three.
    They are mechanically balanced and work very well. The rules are almost new, (almost no scratches on them) and the rest of them are in very good shape with very few marks on them. Let me know at malcolm.meh@gmail.com

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