A Brief History Of Drafting Tables

Good drafting tables are an indispensable aid to many art, architecture and drafting students and professionals. They are specialized tables having a hinged top that can be raised from flat to upright and at any angle in between. There is a lip or edge running along the stationery edge that allows one to rest pencils, pens and other drawing or drafting implements. The lip also keeps the artwork, designs or blueprints in place when the table top is at an angle. Parallel rulers may also be incorporated into the table top.

This type of table has been around for a long time. Before the Industrial Revolution, they were part of a gentleman’s study. He would use it for drawing, painting and for reading large volumes and newspapers. This early table was usually very heavy and made of oak. The raising and lowering apparatus used a lead weight to keep the table top at the desired angle and height.

Drawing, painting and design became less the province of the gentleman during the Industrial Revolution. The drafting table became more of an office or shop fixture. It was designed to be less heavy and cumbersome and made of less costly materials. The function was unchanged but the distribution and popularity of these essential tables greatly increased.

Forms of them are found in courthouses and county clerks offices. They are ideal for perusing the bulky and cumbersome index books and legal ledgers. This method of displaying heavy books for reading or display is still popular. Libraries sometimes use them for displaying open newspapers and magazines.

Mostly, though, the modern drafting table is used by artists, designers, architects and some engineers. They still perform the basic functions but there are a wide range of styles and types available.

Student models are widely available in art supply stores. They are lightweight and the lid is held upright by wing nuts and simple assemblies. The table top is usually plywood covered with a durable coating that resists scratches and cuts. The tops are easily removed to allow for portability. Student models run the gamut of prices, depending on the quality of the product.

There’s also a full range of professional models available. The pulley system is still an intrinsic part of many professional tables. Often, however, more expensive tables will have the raising and lowering capabilities performed by machinery. Accuracy is paramount in architecture and the more sophisticated models are designed to assist in that exacting work.

If you are an artist, you can check online at the many art supply stores to see the range of student and artist models available. Make sure that the size and design of the model you are interested in is appropriate to the desired use. Consider how and where you will be using it and whether it will be used in a fixed place or moved around. Then check to see the shipping rates. The weight of the table and whether it is assembled or shipped in one piece could make a big difference in the final purchase price. Architects and other professionals may find their best choices are to be found in specialty stores catering to these professions.