Best Drafting Tables

Updated April 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
257 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best drafting tables

Last Updated April 2019

Whether you're into crafting, drawing, painting, or design, a drafting table can be the most valuable tool that you own. A versatile model allows you to work how you want to work while keeping all of your supplies within easy reach, ultimately giving you a creative edge.

The best drafting table for your needs is appropriately sized so you can do your work without being cramped. Additionally, the ideal table has trays and drawers for your supplies, a cupholder or two, and offers several tilt positions. The materials and color are also important because you want your drafting table to fit in with your home studio décor.

If you'd like to learn more about the features to look for in a drafting table and get a few assembly tips, keep reading. If you're ready to buy, consider one of the highly rated options that we've handpicked for you in this guide.

With the advent of high-tech, super-sensitive styluses that can be used for everything from painting to design, there has been a shift back to sketching and drawing by hand, making a high-quality drafting table once again a necessity for many creative individuals.

Key considerations

There is a great deal of variety available to the consumer when it comes to drafting tables. In this section, we break down some of those critical options, the ones you need to think about first.

Drafting table types

  • Traditional: When you think of a drafting table, you likely picture the traditional table used by architects. For the most part, that’s what people purchase, but there are two other design options worth pointing out that might work if you have an alternative work situation.

  • Portable: Individuals who don’t have a permanent workspace, for instance, might be interested in a portable drafting table, one that either folds up or has caster wheels so it can be easily moved from room to room.

  • Laptop: Going even smaller, a laptop version of a drafting table is available for people who do their best work in bed or sitting on the floor. Typically this is a small desk that sits on your bed or floor that has a tilting top just like a traditional drafting table.

Workspace

It’s essential to consider your workspace before purchasing a drafting table. If you buy one that’s too small, you won’t be able to fit your work on it. If you purchase one that’s too big, it might not fit in the space you have available in your home. You need to know the largest size paper you’ll be working on and measure the available space in your home studio in order to get the drafting table that is the proper size for you.

Height

Purchasing a drafting table of the appropriate height is the key to eliminating ailments such as back and neck strain. However, before considering the table's height, you need to decide if you’ll be sitting down, standing up, or alternating between the two while working. After you’ve made that decision, look for a drafting table that can be adjusted to a suitable height for your needs.

Tilt

The tilt is what makes a table a drafting table. Ultimately, the angle you work at is determined by what you’re doing and user preference. Unfortunately, unless you already own a drafting table, you won't know what your preferred tilt is. Because of that, it’s best to get a model with an adjustable tilt, ideally something that goes from flat to 35° or 45°. It won't take long for you to figure out what angle is best for you once you begin working at your new drafting table.

EXPERT TIP

Drawing on a tilted surface requires different muscle movements than drawing on a horizontal surface. Because of this, working on a tilted drafting table might feel uncomfortable at first.


Staff  | BestReviews

Drafting table features

Here are some features common to drafting tables, but not all models include all features. If it’s important to you, make sure the drafting table you’re considering has it.

Built-in features

  • Trays: If you’ll be using your drafting table for artwork, having trays that are built into the top of the desk is a desirable feature. The trays are a convenient place to store pencils, erasers, paint brushes, and markers.

  • Cupholder: If you'd like a convenient place to set a water bottle or supplies while you work, look for a drafting table with built-in cupholders.

  • Drawers: Some drafting tables feature a set of drawers attached to the table that can be used for paper or whatever else you'd like to keep inside. Some of the best drafting tables have locking drawers to help keep valuables safe.

  • Other built-in features: Some of the other built-in features you might want in your drafting table include a slide-up pencil ledge, ruler, and crossbar that serves as a footrest.

Materials

Beyond type and style, the materials used in manufacturing your drafting table are important because they determine the unit's overall stability and durability. Lower-end models, for example, might include plastic instead of steel or solid wood and thus not hold up as well under heavy use.

Sets

Some drafting tables come as a set that includes a chair, while others include a shelf, a second set of drawers, or an additional table. If any of these features sound appealing, look for a model that offers this type of package.

Drafting table prices

Inexpensive: When it comes to drafting tables, anything under $80 is likely going to be a no-frills model. It might be set on caster wheels and may not feature the best build quality. Additionally, your design options will be limited.

Mid-range: In the $100 to $150 range, you’ll find the largest variety. These drafting tables feature a better build quality, drawers for storage, pencil tray, and most have a flat to 35° or 45° range when it comes to tilt. This is the best place to start your search.

Expensive: When you move into the $200 and above zone, the drafting tables are manufactured using higher-quality materials with eye-catching designs. Some of these units come with a matching stool or even an additional table.

DID YOU KNOW?

Drafting tables are available in a wide variety of styles ranging from traditional wood to backlit glass.

DID YOU KNOW?

Originally, drafting tables were heavy pieces of furniture found in gentlemen's studies. They were used for drawing, painting, and reading.

Assembly tips

You don’t have to hold a degree in engineering to own a drafting table, but you might need one to assemble some models. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes time to put your drafting table together:

  • Set aside the time. It’s possible to spend up to two hours assembling a more complex drafting table. Block out enough time so you can complete the task.

  • Assemble the table where you’ll be using it. Building your table in the garage and then carrying it to the basement is going to be much more difficult than just building your drafting table in the basement.

  • Enlist help. There will be times when you need two sets of hands. Rather than trying to do all the work alone and risk breaking your drafting table before you even get to use it, get a mechanically inclined partner.

  • Double-check the parts list. There's nothing more frustrating than finding out you're missing a piece when you're hours deep into the project.

  • Gather the right tools. If the instructions call for a Phillips head screwdriver, a slotted screwdriver isn't an acceptable substitution.

  • Read and understand all the directions first. If there’s a picture on the box, look at it to get an idea of how the fully assembled item should look. If the instructional drawing is unclear and you assemble the legs backwards, you might not figure it out until the last page of the instructions, which could be hours later.

  • Keep any included tools. If your drafting table comes with any unique tools, like a hex key, don’t discard them after assembly. You’ll need the tools for any future adjustments.

Other products we considered

The drafting table that is best suited to your needs should fit comfortably in the décor of your home studio. In the event that the highly rated drafting tables listed elsewhere in this article aren't a perfect match for you, we're offering three more models for your consideration. The NNEWVANTE Laptop Desk is an innovative laptop table with three height settings and five tilt settings. The beauty of this design is that it allows you to work while in bed or on the floor. The Stand Up Desk Store Height-Adjustable Drafting Table raises in 2.0-inch increments from 26.5 inches to 38.5 inches. Additionally, the top can tilt up to 45°. Finally, if you'd prefer something a little more modern, the glass and metal SD STUDIO DESIGNS Futura Drafting Table has three drawers and a tabletop that tilts up to 35°.

You don’t have to be an architect to enjoy the benefits of a drafting table. The flexibility of design makes one a worthwhile purchase for many types of artistic and crafting endeavors.

FAQ

Q. Why is a drafting table tilted?
A.
Working on a horizontal surface can alter perspective. For instance, the farther away part of the drawing is from your eyes, the larger you’ll be tempted to make it. It might be subtle, but the end result is an inaccurate drawing, and that’s something you don’t want in drafting in which precision is the main focus. Tilting your drawing surface 35° or 45° allows you to more accurately see what you’re drawing. Additionally, a tilted work surface lets you step back so you can better see the whole picture.

Q. Should I be sitting or standing while I work?
A.
Sitting for prolonged periods isn’t healthy. It can cause many issues such as unwanted weight gain, back problems, and decreased energy. However, new research points to circulation issues and other harmful side effects that might be the result of standing all day. If you have a drafting table that’s easily adjustable, you can balance out sitting with standing to give you the healthiest option – at least until additional studies change the health community's stance on sitting versus standing.

Q. What else can I use a drafting table for?
A.
Because the tabletop can be flat or tilted and many models are equipped with drawers and other convenient storage spaces, a drafting table can be used for sewing, crafting, model building, quilting, or homework.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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