Drawing / Drafting table for under $20

Here are some photographs of the drawing table I made recently for under $20. Admittedly I found the table on the side of the road with a free label on it, but I figure most people could find a cheap or free table in their area. A drawing table does not have to be huge either just big enough to draw on and rest your elbows.
I made this after completing my Blood and Thunder comic submission which was a real pain to finish. I even put off doing the comic at first as I did not have a space to work on it except the kitchen table. This usually is not a problem as I work in my sketchbook which enables me to draw anywhere. Which is in itself why I work in a skecthbook, from years of living in rental houses without space or money to have a studio.
The B&T comic however was approximately A3 in size which meant I had to work on the kitchen table at night, and pack up everything when I was done. I began to remember that having a space to draw, and better yet a drawing table, really aids in making comics. It sounds obvious, but when you are starting out in comics you may not realise the importance of a permanent drawing space.
Anyway I am out of work currently and a drawing table can cost hundreds of dollars. I saw this table and immediately thought of converting it into a drawing table with a titled top. The table itself was one of those ones with extending sides which in some ways made it easier to remove the table top, and also gave me the material to add a side table for equipment and coffee. It also helped that a massive hardware store was just built over the road from my house late last year. This meant I could spend time scratching my chin, deciding on hinges and screws and take them back if they were wrong. I will try and explain the steps I took in order. To do this I had one of those small and cheap multi-piece tool kits that have different screwdriver attachments and drill bits. This would not work for every table but it may give you the inspiration to realise you do not need a fancy deign or instructions, just some simple tools and a little know how.

  1. I removed the table top from the legs, luckily it was only connected on two of the sides, with two screws on each side and was surprisingly easy
  2. I measered the area I had to work with and bought to hinges that would fit, and measured and marked where the hinges would go
  3. I pre-drilled holes by hand using the drill attachments, using the drill size suggested on the packets of screws. I then screwed the hinges to both the table bottom and top
  4. The tricky part was trying to decide what angle I wanted the table at, I decided on 35' and then needed to do some trigonometry to figure out how long the arms needed to be. I used this calculator to figure it out
  5. Unfortunately at this stage (after getting the piece cut) I realised that 35' angle was going to be way too steep for me (personal choice) and I need to reduce the length of the arms, I had specially cut at the hardware store. Luckily I still have access to a drop saw at the Art school I teach at. This time I measured by eye and cut both arms the same length
  6. Again I marked where I wanted the hinges. This time I didn't need to pre-drill as I was using different screws and they didn't need to be pre-drilled
  7. I also attached a piece of timber across the bottom of the table to hold the arms in place
  8. This is now a working drawing table

  • The table top is basically chip board and is uneven in places, I will probably replace it with a similar piece of ply in future
  • I intend to drill two holes in the arms and loop a length of rope to keep them in unison.
  • The side table is not permanently attached as I do not have a hammer to nail it it in place, although I have tape holding it for now
  • Slanted tables are excellent for drawing comics and illustrating, not only can you reach areas on large pieces of paper it also aids in a better posture whilst drawing.
  • It cost me around $16-17 all up, for four hinges, a few packets of the right sized screws, a length of pine timber cut to size and a small piece of rope.
  • I should have taken the photo without the chair in the road of the screws in front!
  • If all this sounds too complicated you can just get a piece of ply cut to size and rest this against a table
  • My last drawing desk (before I moved and lost it), I just nailed a piece of dowel to the front of the wooden desk and slotted in a loose piece of ply in between the dowel and the wall. Again you will need to do the trigonometry to figure out what size board you need. This had an added advantage of coming lose from the wall, if I needed a flat surface


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