There is an unsung hero in architecture and design …the humble drafting table.
These tables, with their unique ability to blend functionality and ergonomic design, have long been the backbone of creative projects, enabling artists and professionals to bring their visions to life with precision and comfort.
From the ornate drawing boards of the Renaissance to the sleek, adjustable tables of today, these tools have evolved significantly, mirroring the advancements in artistic and architectural practices.
Today’s drafting tables are more than just a surface to draw upon; they are a testament to the blend of form and function. The right table can significantly enhance an artist’s workflow, providing the perfect angle for every stroke and the ideal height for sustained comfort during long working hours.
This article delves into the intricate world of drafting and drawing tables, highlighting key features that cater to various needs, from the professional architect drafting detailed blueprints to the budding artist sketching their next masterpiece.
Architectural Drafting Tables
A drafting board, also known as a drawing table, is a multi-purpose platform designed for the specific use of architectural, engineering and artistic drawing, drafting and sketching. The table consists of a rigid leg-support structure with a pitch top that varies for the convenience of the user. Drafting tables are available in varying vertical adjustments and different top sizes.
Drawing tables have many uses ranging from reading oversized documents and drawings, to drafting precise drawings. In general, drafting tables are designed to be used explicitly by architects, artists, and engineers. They are also suitable for architectural, engineering, and arts students.
What are there uses?
Since drafting tables are multi-functional, they are also useful to other artistic-type professionals including cartoonists, tailors, theater designers, filmmakers, fashion designers, cartographers, and interior designers.
There are various activities that you can perform using a drafting table. These activities include drafting or technical drawing, impromptu sketching, drafting of fashion patterns, general reading and writing, reading blueprints and other large documents, painting, drawing maps, theater design, storyboarding, sewing, among others.
Drafting tables have different mechanics and materials depending on the manufacturer and the type of drafting table. The common denominator, however, is the ability of the table to tilt, giving you the ability to view your work from various angles without putting strain to your back and neck.
Do architects still use drafting boards?
Architects, engineers, and draftsmen use drawing boards to make and modify drawings on paper with pencil or ink. Various drawing instruments such as protractors and set squares are used to draw parallel, oblique, or perpendicular lines. However, with the introduction of computer-aided design and drafting in the late 20th century and the wake of the 21st century, drafting boards are becoming less common.
Computer-aided design was adopted in the mid to late 1980s. Most people argue that since hand drawing is becoming unnecessary, there is no need for a drafting table. In reality, before computer-aided designs matched the capabilities of traditional drawings drafted by hand, it took several years. And even now that the technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, drafting tables are still relevant.
Despite computer software being prevalent, many experienced architects and structural designers still prefer pencil and paper graphics produced on a drafting board. And all architects would agree that drafting boards are still important especially in the early stages of designing a project. The best way of expressing your idea is by drawing it on paper and on a drafting board before refining the drawing using CAD software.
Drafting boards are also useful for architecture, engineering, and design students since they often start with hand drawing in their school projects. Drawing tables help the students to learn and develop their design skills better before they can advance to using computer-aided design software.
Also, drafting boards are important to architects since they provide them with a tidy platform where they can perform freehand sketching. The design of drafting tables ensures that architects are as comfortable as possible, giving you the ability to work at different angles with little or no strain and are much more suitable than conventional working surfaces.
How to choose a suitable drawing board
As an architect, artist, or engineer, it is crucial that you find a drafting table that satisfies all your needs. When choosing a drafting table, several factors need to be taken into consideration.
- The first thing you need to consider is the amount of space you have available for the drawing board. Drafting tables usually take up a large amount of space. If this is limited, the best drafting table for you is a fold-away drafting table. These tables are easy to store when not in use and are generally smaller in size. They are also cheaper but often not as sturdy as others.
- If the amount of space you have available is adequate for larger drafting tables, the best option is a pedestal or four-post drafting table. The pedestal and four-post drawing boards are more durable and sturdier than fold-away tables. These drafting tables also have larger top sizes because they have a more sturdy base.
- Another factor you need to consider is the size of the tabletop itself. The drawing boards area needs to be large enough to cater for its intended use, and therefore should be at least one size larger than the paper you will be using.
- Additionally you need to consider if the angle to which your drafting table can be adjusted. Drafting tables that are adjustable by large angles allow you to work in different positions without strain. Drafting tables with adjustable angles are therefore suitable if whatever you are working on requires you to work in different positions.
- Lastly you must consider the height to which the drawing board can be adjusted. Finding a drafting table with a good height adjustment is important in minimizing stress to your back and neck. Some drafting tables are also adjustable to heights that make them usable when standing. This can help in reducing the health concerns related to a sedentary workday, and we have a guide to the benefits of working whilst standing below; Benefits of standing desks
The Best Architectural Drafting Table
Firstly for speed and efficiency we only review and shortlist our top 5 results, and the below products form a list of what we consider to be some of the best drafting tables currently available:
Best Storage Solution: Alvin Portable Drafting Board
Best For Portability: Martin Adjustable Angle Drawing Board
Best All In One Workspace: ZENY Height Adjustable Drafting Table
Best Adjustable Workspace: SD Studio Designs Drafting Table
Best For Standing And Sitting: Stand Up Adjustable Standing Drafting Table
Dimensions - 36 x 24 x 3 inches | Height - 3 inches | Weight - 12 pounds | Table Mounted or Freestanding - Requires desk space | Adjustable Angle - Yes | Foldable - Yes | Transportable - Yes | Equipment Storage - No | Adjustable Ruler - Yes | Sitting or Standing - Sitting/standing
The Alvin portable drafting board has a built-in parallel straight-edge suitable for all kinds of technical and creative applications. This drawing and drafting board is perfect for students and those who want an accurate drawing surface but do not have adequate space for a full free standing drafting table.
The Alvin portable drafting board has an aluminum straightedge with rubber edges that are soft to enhance grip, control and comfort. The drafting board also has a cross-wire and pulley system that ensures the board is maintained parallel in any position as the straightedge glides up and down the board. The drawing surface is smooth, white melamine, ensuring that your drawing is bump-free.
The board also has folding metal legs that have rubber-dipped ends to prevent scratching. The legs are also set at an angle to prevent the board from collapsing accidentally. The board can be used in a flat or an elevated position. The drafting board is allowed to hang over the table edge up to 8 inches, bringing the surface close to the user and increasing the working angle.
- It is foldable, thus it is suitable for small work areas
- It is portable
- Comfortable to use
- Has an adjustable ruler
- Not as sturdy as other products
- It has a smaller work surface compared to other drafting tables
Dimensions - 21 x 16 x 3 inches | Height - 3 inches | Weight - 8.45 pounds | Table Mounted or Freestanding - Requires desk space | Adjustable Angle - Yes | Foldable - Yes | Transportable - Yes | Equipment storage - No | Adjustable Ruler - Yes | Sitting or Standing - Sitting/standing
The Martin adjustable angle drawing board is the only parallel straightedge drafting board that utilizes an anti-warp aluminum straightedge for stability and strength. There are large knobs on each side of the unit for adjusting the straight-edge to stay parallel and align with the drawing.
The Martin adjustable angle drawing board also features a white melamine drawing surface which is nonporous. The board is light in weight making it easily portable. Its portability is made even easier by the large comfortable carry handle. The surface is backed by the exclusive Martin adjusto-stand which has rubber feet for enhanced stability. It also provides you with five angles of adjustment.
The drawing board also has a locking mechanism that enables it to be locked in your preferred angle, making the whole process more comfortable.
- Adjustable anti-warp aluminum straightedge for stability and strength
- Easily to adjust and set
- Has a nonporous melamine surface
- It has a smaller work surface than other drafting tables
Dimensions - 38 x 27 x 5 inches | Height - 30 inches | Weight - 46 pounds | Table mounted or Freestanding - Freestanding | Adjustable Angle - Yes | Foldable - No | Transportable - No | Equipment storage - Yes | Adjustable Ruler - No | Sitting or Standing - Sitting | Extras - Includes stool
The SD Studio Designs drafting table features 38 x 27 inches of main work surface. The surface is made of glass and is large enough to suit most working types and methods. The tempered safety glass top is clear, strong, and durable.
The table can be used for a variety of purposes including as a light table or work desk. The main work surface is adjustable and can be adjusted from 0 degrees to 70 degrees. The minimum height of the table is 30 inches when it is adjusted. The drafting table has wheels making it easy to be moved from one place to another.
This drafting table also features a powder-coated heavy-gauge steel frame, making the table incredibly durable. The table comes with three plastic drawers attached for storage of your drawing equipment.
Further equipment storage is supplied via built-in pen and pencil grooves on the main work surface, enabling easy access to your equipment while working.
The SD Studio Designs drafting table comes with a premium stool.
- Strong, clear, and durable tempered safety glass top
- Work surface can be adjusted from 0-70 degrees
- Built-in pencil groove
- It is not portable
- Some users may prefer an opaque working platform
Dimensions - 39.4 x 26 x 38.5 inches | Height - 38.5 inches | Weight - 53 pounds | Table Mounted or Freestanding - Freestanding | Adjustable angle - Yes | Foldable - No | Transportable - No | Equipment Storage - Yes | Adjustable Ruler - Yes | Sitting or Standing - Sitting and standing
The Stand Up adjustable drafting table features a versatile design that offers a wide range of height adjustments giving you the ability to choose whether to use it as a standing desk or as a conventional sitting desk. The main work surface of the drafting table also has an adjustable desktop angle, allowing you to draw at any angle, whether standing or seated.
This adjustable drafting table enhances the productivity of its users, by being able to use it as a full-height drafting table or as a standing table, your calorie burn is boosted, your focus is increased, and the health concerns related to a sedentary workday are reduced. Also, this drafting table has a durable powder coat finish ensuring that the table can be used for a long time.
The drafting table also features oversized thumb screws which make it easier to adjust the angles and height of the table.
Lastly, the table has a sturdy steel frame that enhances the durability, and extra-large rubber feet to help make the table more stable while at the same time protect the floor from scratching.
- Wide range of height adjustment
- Can be used either when standing or seating
- Easily adjustable
- Adjustable angles
- Not portable
- Requires space