Last summer I acquired this antique drafting table. It is a style that was made for over 50 years and I’d never seen on in person, but was quite enamored with the cast iron hardware. I had even considered making a table from scratch, but to my dismay no one makes reproduction hardware for the large half circle bits.
As is the aesthetic is almost perfect to my taste. A darker color might be a little better. Functionally it leaves a little bit to be desired. It’s pretty solid all around, but the top rocks a bit. This could probably be solved with a bit of teflon tape around the carriage bolts. The other feature that is slightly bothersome to me is the cross bar that is in the front and back. The back one is fine, but the front one gets in the way of where I want to put my feet. I’m not sure where other people put their feet when sitting and drawing, but mine go right about there.
Lastly there is one major flaw with this table. The drawing surface isn’t see through. This never used to be an issue for me, but with the kind of work I’ve been doing with screen printing it is helpful to have a lightbox. I own a small lightbox, but larger models are much more expensive. Back in college we had drawing tables and dedicated light boxes, but why can’t the two co-exist?
Of course, they can and I doubt I was the first to think of it. Studio Designs offers a number of glass top drawing tables, always mentioning that propping a light behind makes for a good lightbox. The issues I have with most of those designs is that the top doesn’t tilt much and it’s a cold blend of glass and cheap steel. Why can’t we set a glass or plexiglass top into a solid wood table like the one pictured above?
I’m torn between a clear piece of glass, a frosted piece of glass, and a slightly textured piece of plexiglass.
Now I have seen some wood and glass top drafting/lightboxes, but they are usually very large and bulky due to the size of fluorescent bulbs and ballasts. In this age of LED lighting, that shouldn’t have to be the case anymore.
So there you have it: my ideal drawing table. Much like the design above with a clear top, the option to backlight it with LEDs, and relocated cross bar. Now I just have to figure out how to make one. What features would you add to your ideal drawing table?