Because of computer-aided design (CAD) technology, many think that the need for drafting desks has fallen by the wayside. In spite of the fact that many architects, engineers and designers have switched over to CAD, there are still plenty out there who like to sharpen a pencil and sit down in front of a drawing board. Additionally, to assume that only architects, engineers and designers use drafting desks is an erroneous assumption. Plenty of individuals who engage in studio arts of various forms make use of drafting desks.
Selecting the right drafting desk to meet your needs can be a challenge unless you know what to look for. Our buyer’s guide will provide you with information concerning what benefits and features you should look for in a drafting desk. In addition, our reviews of ten drafting desks will allow you the opportunity to compare how these various features and benefits are integrated into the design and function of each model.
Once you have finished with our buyer’s guide and reviews, you should be well-qualified when it comes to purchasing the drafting desk which best suits your needs and preferences. With that objective in mind, let’s answer a few questions about drafting desks that you might have.
Why Would You Need A Drafting Desk?
The workspace most often called a drafting desk, drafting table or drawing board is a large, flat surface which can be tilted or laid flat in order to accommodate larger sheets of paper. Graphic artists, designers, drafters, architects, engineers and numerous individuals engaged in studio arts make use of this workspace as an ideal place to layout large sheets of paper. Even those who have integrated CAD into their operations use drafting tables to layout printed copies of their work to review and redline for revisions. Essentially, anyone who needs a wide flat workspace to accommodate large sheets of paper can benefits from a drafting desk.
What benefits can you expect from a drafting desk?
The advantage of a drafting desk is its tilted drawing board. This feature allows the user to not only reach all parts of the drawing with greater ease without having to lean too far forward, but it also allows the eyes to be able to take in the work in proper perspective. The top edge of a drawing laid flat is further away from the eyes, which causes some distortion in dimensions and spatial conception. The tilt of the drawing board is something of an equalizer for your eyes and prevents this distortion.
What are some features to look for in a drafting desk?
Different personal preferences come into play whenever a person considers what they want in a drafting desk. Budget, style, design aesthetics, dimensions and storage needs are all considerations that will vary from one user to another. However, there are several general features that should be taken into consideration when choosing a drafting desk.
How you use your drafting desk might change from one project to another. In fact, your needs might even change in the middle of a project. Having a drafting table that will accommodate the various tools, perspectives, body movements and hand adjustments in the middle of a project or from one project to the next is important. Adjustable tilt, adjustable height, and other desktop adjustments make your drafting desk more versatile.
When people think of durability, they often think of longevity. Where that is certainly important, when it comes to precision work, durability goes hand in hand with stability. A drafting desk, even one that is adjustable, must be solidly fixed in place when in use. A table that wobbles even the width of a flea’s hair can spell disastrous results in some cases where precision is essential. Look for a desk that is durable and stable enough to remain perfectly still while being used.
The size of your workspace will depend upon what you intend to do. The maximum size for most architectural and engineering sheets is 48” x 36” or E size. You will find that most drafting desks tend to accommodate the older and more common D size dimensions of 36” x 24”. The D size table is usually 42” x 30” and has plenty of space for smaller paper sizes.
In addition, to drawing board working space, considerations for tools and accessories around the margins of the drawing board should be taken into consideration. Having additional space close at hand for accessing what you need while you are working, and even cup holders or water bottle holders, built into the margins of the table helps facilitate your work.
Though we have discussed the general features to look for in a drafting desk, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind when it comes to choosing exactly what you want and need from a drafting table. These features include:
• Storage space and compartments for various tools.
• Adjustable drawing board tilt and adjustable height. Be sure that the knobs used to make these adjustments will lock the drawing board in place and keep it stable while you work.
• Knee and foot space. You need to be able to place your feet comfortably beneath you and there needs to be plenty of room for your knees as well. If you use a standard height desk, your feet can rest on the floor, but 36” or 42” height tables should have some sort of comfortable footrest built in underneath.
• Choose a desk that is aesthetically pleasing to you. An attractive and pleasing workspace reduces some of the stress and tediousness of the work and makes you more productive.
Budget, design, colors and styles also play a role in your personal preferences when choosing a drafting desk and will obviously be considered in your purchasing decision as well. Those features along with the general features and benefits we have just discussed can be compared in our review of ten top drafting desks below.
Top Rated Best Drafting Desks Reviews
Studio Designs Futura Advanced Drafting Table
The Studio Designs Futura Advanced Drafting Table is built on a frame of heavy-duty rectangular steel tubing for a durable and stable base. It features a sleek, contemporary design with blue tempered safety glass for the drawing board. The drawing board measures 36” x 24” and can be tilted at an angle up to 35 degrees. This table also features a fold-down shelf that can be installed on either side of the table, contains 3 plastic, detachable drawers for tool and supply storage, and comes with various types and sizes of tool and cup holders on the right and left margins of the drawing board.
This is a sturdy and stable drafting table which will have no wobble in it. The fact that the drop-down side table can be placed on either side is a big positive as is the detachable drawer set that can be attached on either side. Its tempered glass drawing board, tilt adjustment and supply trays on the table’s margins are solid design features to attract your attention as well.
The trays and drawers on this table are something of a let-down considering the rest of its sturdy and durable construction. In addition, the drawing board is a bit undersized for D sized sheets.
A Great Choice If…
You work as a graphic designer and want a durable, stable and dependable drafting desk to work on. If you are an architect who works with D or E sized sheets, you might not be impressed.
Yaheetech Adjustable Drafting Drawing Table
Contemporary design and functionality are also built into the Yaheetech Adjustable Drafting Drawing Table. The drawing board on this desk is made of tempered glass, measures 35.4” x 23.6” and will tilt from 0 to 60 degrees. This drawing board is set on a premium rectangular tubing frame, which is also mounted on lockable casters for added convenience. Supply storage drawers made of non-woven fabric are included beneath and there are various sizes and types of trays for tools, pencils and cups on the right and left margins as well.
The durable frame and convenience of the lockable casters make this a versatile table for various types of graphic arts. The tilt angle of the tempered glass drawing board is an added plus for some applications as well. There is plenty of at hand storage on this unit as well.
Regardless of how well designed they are, the casters are a weak point when considering the stability of this drafting desk. In addition, the non-woven fabric drawers are something of a let down on this table.
A Great Choice If…
You need a table with a greater tilt and angle and might want to move this table around the office. An architect or engineer might not like the smaller drawing board and potential weakness in the casters.
Studio Designs 42in Vintage Drafting Table 13305
If you prefer the cleaner, simple and traditional drafting table design, the then the Studio Designs 42in Vintage Drafting Table is more apt to appeal to you. This is 42” x 30” smooth-wood board mounted on an adjustable wooden frame which allows for a 0 to 90 degree tilt of the drawing board. A wooden lip or pencil ledge at the bottom of the drawing board helps to hold pencils, stacked papers or charts in place as well.
In spite of the fact that this is not a particularly elegant desk, this unit is a solid, functional drafting desk. The larger drawing board accommodates D-sized paper for architectural and engineering use. The angle adjustment up to 90 degrees makes this a very versatile table and its height adjustment to accommodate your preferences is another positive to keep in mind.
There are no additional storage drawers or trays included with this table. This table does not have a very elegant or overly impressive look to it.
A Great Choice If…
You are an architect or engineer and need the larger drawing board. If you are looking for something with a more elegant or modern design you might want to pass this one by.
Studio Designs 10053 Vision Craft Station
Another drafting desk with a more modern design is the Vision Craft Station drafting desk. This desk also utilizes a rectangular steel tube frame on casters for convenience. The durable frame supports a 35.5 x 24” drawing board, which can be adjusted to tilt from 0 to 70 degrees. The drawing board is made of blue tempered glass and includes various tool and pencil containers and cup holders added onto its right and left margins. This desk also includes detachable plastic storage drawers underneath.
The rectangular steel tube frame on this desk places a solid base beneath the drawing board. Drawing board adjustments up to 70 degrees of tilt makes it a more versatile table. The detachable drawers underneath and drawing supply trays on the margins of the drawing board put tools and supplies closer at hand.
The plastic casters on this drawing table, though convenient for moving it around, are a potential weak point for wobble and instability of this table. The drawing board will not work well for architects and engineers because it is too small.
A Great Choice If…
You are a graphic artist or designer who uses sheets smaller than D-size and need to move your table around the office on occasion. Architects and engineers will not be as impressed with this table.
Studio Designs Graphix II Workstation 10210
The Graphix II Workstation by Studio Designs is versatile setup for multitasking. It provides you with an 11.5” x 30” flat table surface wide enough to hold a laptop while also providing a 42” x 30” drawing board, which can be adjusted to tilt from 0 to 30 degrees. In addition to the tilt of the board, the base height of the entire desk can be adjusted from 30” to 39” height. The drawing board also contains a 1-1/2 inch pencil tray running along its entire length. All of these features are stabilized on a frame of solid tubular steel.
This is a substantial table built on a solid tubular steel frame which can be adjusted from 30” to 39” heights. The drawing board is large enough to accommodate D-sized paper. The flat side table is handy for multi-tasking or for accommodating a tray with tools and supplies. Its 30 degree tilt is sufficient for most architects and engineers.
Four points of height adjustment are sometimes difficult to coordinate when raising and lowering the base height. The angle of tilt might be a little bit too shallow for some applications.
A Great Choice If…
You want a solid, stationary drafting table for architectural or engineering work and do not need much storage and supply space. Other users might feel this table lacks too many accessories.
ZENY Height Adjustable Drafting Desk
The ZENY Height Adjustable Drafting Desk is built to on a solid tubular steel frame that can be adjusted to fit your preference or your favorite drafting chair. It has built in non-woven fabric drawers beneath the drafting table and has a flat side table on the left side of the desk. Additional open storage space is also provided beneath. The base height can easily be adjusted from 28” to 35.8” to accommodate your preferred height. Its quality P2 MDF drawing board measures 34” x 23.6”, can be adjusted from 0 to 45 degrees of tilt, includes a pencil ledge and various containers for tools and supplies along the right margin of the board.
This drafting table is set upon a very stable frame with wider adjustable feet to prevent wobbling. The drawing board tilt up to 45 degrees is sufficient for most applications and its P2 MDF material makes it a solid and smooth choice. Being able to adjust its base height to accommodate your favorite stool or table is an added bonus as well.
The Not So Good
The non-woven fabric drawers are a let-down given the overall design durability of this table. Its drawing board is too small for architectural and engineering use as well.
A Great Choice If…
You require a stable and durable framed table which accommodates additional storage as well as a side table. An architect or engineer is going to be disappointed in the size of the drawing board on this unit.
Comet Center with Stool
The Comet Center with Stool can add a little bit more pizzazz to your work space if that’s the look you need to go for. This drafting desk provides a comfortable workspace where all of your supplies and tools can be readily at hand. The drawing board on this unit measures 36” x 24” with a 24” slide-up pencil ledge and can be adjusted to tilt from 0 to 32 degrees. The side table measures 13” inches across, includes (3) 24” deep storage drawers. The base height of this table can be adjusted from 30” to 42.75”. This unit also includes a stool and has a footboard for those who prefer a taller table and stool. In addition, there are levelers included on the feet to achieve the perfect balance for your desk.
This table has a modern designer look on a solid frame that can be leveled to the perfect balance using its adjustable feet. It is the only table in this review that has a foot board to accommodate your feet if you set the base height for a taller stool. The side table on this unit is a little bit more substantial than on some of the others.
The non-woven drawers are a little disappointing on an otherwise solid drafting desk. By leaving off the stool, the manufacturer might have been able to put decent drawers or a little bit greater tilt angle on the drawing board.
A Great Choice If…
You are okay with a drafting desk that is smaller than what is needed for D-sized paper. You are likely to be disappointed with the drawers and stool that come with this unit.
Studio Designs 13346 Solano Adjustable Height Drafting Table
The clean stable design of the Solano Adjustable Height Drafting Table is not to be overlooked. This simplistic drafting desk is built on a solid tubular steel frame, which can be adjusted from a base height of 30” to 40.5”. This supports a tempered glass drawing board measuring 41.75” x 30” that can be adjusted from 0 to 85 degrees of tilt. Go-to supplies are within easy reach underneath the table on an open shelf and a pencil ledge is along the bottom edge of the drawing board.
This drafting desk has a solid, clean design with plenty of durability and stability on its tubular steel frame. The tempered glass drawing board on this table will accommodate D-sized paper. Its near vertical tilt makes it extremely versatile. It allows you to place supplies underneath for quick access.
It is not a very elegant table. There is not a great deal of accessory or tools storage within easy reach on the desk’s surface.
A Great Choice If…
You want a simple, durable and functional table that will accommodate D-sized paper. If you need a lot of tools and supplies quickly at hand, you will be disappointed in this desk.
Studio Designs 10057 Futura Tower
The Studio Designs Futura Tower is a workstation which provides everything you are going to need for getting the job done. Besides providing a 33” x 21” blue tempered glass drawing board which can be adjusted from 0 to 40 degrees, this unit also has a corkboard back where you can pin-up photos, designs, details and other reference items for quick visual access. This unit is set on a heavy-duty steel tube frame for stability. It includes a 24” x 9” glass tower shelf above the corkboard, a pencil ledge along the bottom end of the drawing board and 4 removable trays on the right and left margins of the board for quick access to tools and supplies while you work. In addition, a slim-line supply draw is beneath the drawing board.
The cork board above the drawing board for pinning drawings, details, illustration, etc. for quick visual reference is a positive that sets this table apart. This setup is built on a solid steel frame for durability and stability. The wide array of trays and cup holders on the margins of the drawing board are convenient. The blue tempered glass drawing board which can be adjusted up to 40 degrees of tilt lends a modern look to this table.
The drawing board is too small to accommodate D-sized paper. It does not provide for a lot of additional supply storage on the unit itself.
A Great Choice If…
You are a graphic designer who is impressed by the fact that you can pin or attach templates or other design details above the drawing board for quick visual reference. Architects and engineers might like the concept, but the drawing board is much too small to accommodate D-sized paper.
Yaheetech Adjustable Height Drawing Table
When it comes to versatility, it is hard to beat the Yaheetech Adjustable Height Drawing Table. The tubular steel base of this drafting desk can be adjusted from 27.4” up to 36.4” to accommodate your height preference. Its smooth and durable MDF drawing board measures 33.9” x 23.6” and can be adjusted from 0 to 60 degrees of tilt. The right margin of the drawing board has attachable trays for ready access to tools and supplies. This table also includes a pencil ledge along the bottom of the drawing board, non-woven fabric drawers, an open storage shelf under the table and a 15” x 23.6” retractable side table.
The tubular steel base with wider feet on this drafting table lends greater stability. Being able to adjust the height to suit your preference is a positive feature. The retractable side table is also an added convenience as is its quick access tool and supply storage. It includes a versatile tilt angle on a durable and smooth drawing board.
In spite of its great features and design, this table lacks a large enough drawing board for D-sized paper. Its non-woven fabric drawers are a disappointment given the overall durable design of this desk.
A Great Choice If…
You are in the market for a stable and durable drafting table with plenty of supply and tool storage quickly accessible while you work. You might be disappointed with the actual dimensions of the drawing board if you work with larger paper sizes.