Its pullout drawer and slide-up ledge makes it handy in any room.

By Roxanna Coldiron
March 29, 2021
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attic home office with drafting table
Credit: Elliott Kaufman / Getty Images

While you can draw, paint, or do any type of creative artwork on a regular table, a drafting table offers so much more for your workspace. "Having a designated drawing table can be a huge benefit for some artists," says artist and illustrator Samantha Dion Baker who is also author of the upcoming title Draw Your World: How to Sketch and Paint Your Remarkable Life ($15.99, barnesandnoble.com). "When we have a special place to do our work, we tend to concentrate and change our mindset to 'now I am at my space,' which brings us to the moment, and nourishes our creativity. For many artists working on small scale or medium scale work, a drafting table is the right answer." Here, we delve into the history and anatomy of such a piece with artistic input from Baker.

The Benefits of a Drafting Table

The origin of drafting tables dates back to the 17th century. More commonly known as drawing boards at that time, you would find them in a gentleman's study or library. During the Industrial Revolution, draftsmanship became a specialized trade, and drafting tables gradually moved out of residential offices and into utilitarian work spaces.

While early drafting tables remained in the domain of architects and engineers, that's no longer the case today. The benefit of using a drafting table is the improved posture and alignment that these tables provide. Unlike a regular table in which the artist may have to hunch over to see their work because of the flattened surface, drafting tables tend to be angled for a front-facing view. "If an artist's work takes hours to create, this ergonomic solution is key. But the angle also helps us to see the work at the proper perspective," explains Baker. "I have worked many times with a large drawing pad on my lap, and when I lift the work up to face me, I discover that my perspective is off. Working at an angle helps to correct these errors."

What to Look for in a Drafting Table

The drafting table that you choose will depend on your needs for your workspace. Do you want storage space or mobility? Then choose a table that has drawers and shelves or wheels that let you change its position in any given room. Drafting tables also come in many different sizes. Choose one that fits the types of projects that you plan to work on. The Little Tree Drawing Table ($169.99, walmart.com), for example, is a versatile table that can double as a writing or computer desk when you aren't painting. One side of the table has shelves below it that can be used to store papers, materials, or files as needed. Alternatively, the Studio Designs Deluxe Drafting Table ($189.99, wayfair.com) has a large drafting space and comes with wheels that can be locked into place.

"It is a personal choice on what features you would like your table to have and how much space the table takes up in your home or studio," says Baker. "I would recommend finding one that has the ability to adjust not only the angle you are working (typically drafting tables are angled at 30 to 50 degrees), but also the height." Adjustable height will give you the opportunity to work sitting down or standing up. These can also function as an easel, which is perfect for painting.

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