The 10 Best Drafting Tables
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in February of 2015. If your work or hobby requires you to create drawings or designs, one of these drafting tables is likely to come in very handy. They are perfect for architects, graphic artists, illustrators, interior designers, and myriad arts and crafts activities. We've included a variety of models to match any decor and budget, and ranked them by their durability, storage space, adjustability, and style. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 08, 2020:
While drafting tables are a functional piece of equipment, they are often placed in high visibility areas, so they should also be aesthetically pleasing. Since every home and office is cultivating a different ambiance, we wanted to make sure to include a nice range of styles so there would be something to fit in with every type of decor. Of course, we never prioritized looks over functionality.
The first thing we did was eliminate the Alvin WorkMaster and Alvin White Foldable. Though these were both good options, the venerable company that produced them just couldn't cope with the economic headwinds of 2020 and, after seven decades, they had to shut their doors. We also removed the Diversified Woodcrafts DT-1A30. While there was nothing inherently wrong with it, we just didn't think it offered any notable enough features to warrant its very high price. Yes, it was made of solid maple wood, but the Studio Designs 42-Inch Vintage is also crafted of solid wood, in this case the extremely hardy poplar, and it costs less than half the price. We also think the latter is more attractive, too.
Some new additions taking the place of the removed models are the Studio Designs Triflex, Zeny Drawing Desk, Stand Up Desk Store Steel Frame, and H&A Tiltable Craft Station. Since people are putting a bit more focus these days on sitting less, we thought it prudent to include the Studio Designs Triflex and Stand Up Desk Store Steel Frame. Both of these offer enough height adjustability to be used in a standing or seated position, much like many other standing desks, but also include an angle-adjustable surface for use while drawing. The Triflex offers a nice modern aesthetic too, that would look great in any space with a contemporary design scheme.
The Zeny Drawing Desk is a smart budget-friendly option that offers a lower storage rack and two drawers to keep supplies close at hand, while the H&A Tiltable Craft Station is a more minimalistic option that beautifully blends modern and rustic design elements.
December 24, 2019:
While the majority of the models on the market have adjustable heights, not all of those adjustment mechanisms and ranges are created equally, and that can make a huge difference in everything from the stability of your desk when extended to your ability to sit comfortably on your favorite stool. That's the main reason we had to get rid of the Martin Ashley Creative, which had way too low a maximum height. It's also why the Alvin White Foldable is ranked where it is, as it can be a tad wobbly when fully extended.
In place of the fallen Martin Ashley, we found an excellent option in the Diversified Woodcrafts DT-1SA37, which, admittedly, doesn't offer any height adjustment, but that has one of the easiest and most stable assemblies on the market. Of course, nothing could quite compete with the Studio Designs Futura Tower, which offers everything from a reference surface that can stand vertically to a retractable pencil ledge you can tuck out of the way when you don't need it.
Lewis Drafting Table The beautiful Lewis Drafting Table is hand crafted from mango wood and equipped with rich brass-colored iron hardware. Its lower levels feature two shelves and a wide drawer to hold supplies, however, it should be noted that the lip at the top of the working surface can get in the way when working on large projects. sundancecatalog.com
Arhaus Industrial Crank Drafting Table Ideal for rustic and industrial interior design motifs, this drafting table from Arhaus has a heavy-duty iron base with an antique-looking crank that is used to adjust the height of the work surface to accommodate different users and uses. Its pencil ledge is crafted from the same iron as the base, and the top is made from a sustainable mango wood. arhaus.com
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Drafting Table?
Does it come with a stool, or will you have to purchase one yourself?
Most people use drafting tables for artwork, architecture, engineering, graphic design, or something in between. This is relevant in that different drafting tables have been designed for different needs. So the first question any person needs to ask before considering a drafting table is, "What exactly do I need this table for?"
If you need a drafting table for business purposes, you may want to consider a model that comes with a detachable set of drawers. In addition to filing space, detachable drawers might also provide a flat surface for setting up any laptop or phone. If you plan on using the table for architecture, film work, or engineering, it's worth pursuing a model that is either backlit or comes with a high-wattage lamp across the top post.
If you're using a drafting table for personal artwork, then you'll probably want that table to feature slide-out trays. Trays will allow you to keep a palette, brushes, markers, and any other art supplies right at your fingertips. In addition, certain drafting tables come with plastic bins built right into the frame. Plastic bins are preferable to the more formal wooden drawers in that marked-up plastic can be easily washed, or - assuming a worst-case scenario - replaced.
Regardless of your needs, you'll want to confirm that a table's dimensions are sufficient. You'll also want to confirm that the table can be adjusted to specific angles, and heights. Does the table come with a built-in well for storing utensils? Does it come with a stool, or will you have to purchase one yourself? Does the table sit firmly, or is there a risk of it sliding? Finally, is the table available in a color that matches everything else?
Some Basic Tips for Setting Up a Drafting Table
OK, so you've found a table that suits your needs. The next step is locating an ideal spot for that table in your work space. Most people prefer to place their drafting tables near a window, where they can get some air, while also enjoying a bit of sunlight. The majority of people also prefer to face a drafting table toward the doorway, so they can engage others without anyone having a clear vantage point of their work.
You can improve the atmosphere by placing a plant along the windowsill, or hanging some inspiring photos along the wall.
When assembling a table you'll want to adjust its surface, tilting it at an angle which makes you feel comfortable based on how you sit. In addition, be sure to coordinate any stool's height so your hips are flush with the table's ledge.
Once the setup is complete, it's time to bring in your accessories. Assuming your drafting table comes with drawers, you'll want to fill those drawers based on priority. That is to say, the items that you reach for most should be front and center. Beyond that, you'll want to map out where you can rest your laptop, as well as any mobile devices or tablets. A lot of drafting tables come with slide-out trays, which seem to be almost custom-made for this purpose.
Now you're down to the little stuff, like adding clips (for holding things in place), and finding an appropriate lamp, assuming the table doesn't come with one built in. You can improve the atmosphere by placing a plant along the windowsill, or hanging some inspiring photos along the wall. A work space, by definition, should be a place for you to create. More than anything else, you want it to feel like a home.
A Brief History of The Drafting Table (By Way of Its Names)
Did you know that whenever somebody uses the phrase, "back to the drawing board," he or she is actually referring to a drafting table? It's true. The popular phrase originally appeared in a New Yorker cartoon which was published back in 1941. That cartoon featured a World War II engineer walking away from the wreckage of a fighter plane. "Well, back to the old drawing board," an accompanying caption read.
In the end these product names are meant to be a reflection of each manufacturer's marketing, as well as the brand that product represents.
So why go with the term drawing board as opposed to drafting table? The answer is that up until the mid-18th century, drafting tables were considered a bit stodgier - the type of antique fixture that might be found inside an aristocratic den. During the Industrial Revolution, however, certain blue-collar workers were afforded their own drafting tables, which they, in turn, began to refer to as drawing boards instead.
Throughout the 17th century, drafting tables were formally known as mechanical desks. Each mechanical desk was designed to be ornate. The average desk was designed with side panels and pop-out drawers, many of which could only be accessed by a series of levers and gears.
Today's drafting tables go by any number of designations. An art-based table, for example, might be referred to as a crafting station, while a business-oriented table might be referred to as a working station. A tech-savvy table might be referred to as a docking station, based on its ability to charge a PC or a phone. In the end these product names are meant to be a reflection of each manufacturer's marketing, as well as the brand that product represents.