Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Drawing Table

When I moved to Arizona a little over a year ago, I made 2 simple computer desks for my office.

The desk on the left was for my personal computer, which was eventually moved into my bedroom to be a media center.  The desk stayed in my office and became a work table for my projects.  Eventually I decided to add-on and improve the desk and then I moved it into my guest room as a nice writing table.

Since then I've been using a folding table as my work table.  It works well enough, but I want something better.

At the time of this writing it's now June in Arizona and it's hot! This time last year I was working on making all new furniture for my house, so I persevered through the heat.  Now that all the necessary furniture is made, all I can do is rearrange and clean up my garage/workshop and wait for cooler weather.

But I get antsy - I'll want to work on stuff over the summer. I want to get back to drawing, but have no place good to draw.  The plastic folding table has a textured top, making it impossible for good drawing.  So I decided for my last major workshop project I would make a nice drawing table, so I can work on drawings over the summer months. Hopefully the next few days won't be too hot in the garage to work.

This drawing table will have a tilting top, much like a drafting table.

So once my plans were finalized I went out and bought the lumber.

The first step as always is measuring and marking all the wood for cutting.

The wood that I bought is too long at this point to use the table saw, so I made all the necessary cuts with my circular saw.

After a while of cutting, I finally had all the wood cut.

First I'm going to build the legs/shelves of the desk.  For this I'm going to make dadoes on the sides for the shelves to fit into.  I marked the positions on one of the legs...

...and then began making dadoes (grooves) using my router table.

Then I did a dry-fit to make sure everything fit correctly.  While looking at the leg/shelf, I felt I could make it look prettier.

So I drew a curved shape onto cardboard...

...and cut it out to use as a template.

I traced the curved shape onto the legs...

...then cut out the shapes with my jigsaw.

Next I applied wood filler to the spots in the plywood that needed it...

...then sanded everything when the filler dried.

The shelves also were sanded.

Then I began assembling the legs/shelves with glue and brad nails.

When both sets were done I set them aside to dry.

Now it was time to tackle the desk top.  This part is essentially a large frame.  I cut the wood boards to the sides and drilled pocket holes to connect to each other and the desk bottom.

The far right end of the table top doesn't have a side, as there will be a drawer going there.

Next I attached the top right part of the desk - this part will be stationary.

The rest of the table top will pivot from the hinges attached on the front.

This will allow the top to incline forward and make it easier to draw.

Then I placed the desk top onto the legs/shelves to see how it looked.

So far I like it a lot, plus there's plenty of room for my legs underneath.

Next I decided to finish up the legs/shelves.  I cut some thin plywood...

...and glued/nailed it to the backs of the legs/shelves.

Then I drilled pocket holes onto another board...

...which was then attached to both legs/shelves and then the bottom of the desk.  The legs were also attached to the bottom of the desk with pocket screws.

Then I flipped it over.

Looking great so far.

Next I worked on the stands for the inside of the desk top.

It took a few attempts to get the stands right...

...but finally I was able to do it.  The desk raises about 30 degrees with the stand in place - which is a good angle for me to work with.

Next I attached hinges to the bottom of the stands...

...and attached them to the inside of the desk top.

The hinges let the stands fold down for when I want the desk to lay completely flat.

Then when I lift the desk top up, the stands fall down and the desk top is at an angle!

The last thing I added to the hinged desk top was a thin strip of plywood at the very bottom.  This will hold paper in place when the desk is elevated.

Now it's time to make the drawer for the right side of the desk.  I cut some strips of plywood to size with the table saw.

I assembled the drawer with glue, nails and screws.

So far it fits nicely, but I don't like the front of the drawer being plywood...

so I cut a piece of pine board and attached it to the drawer with a knob.

Now it looks nice.

And the drawer is complete!

All the steps above (not including the plans I made for the desk) took about 9 hours of work, and I did it all in one day.  I'm serious about it being hot in the workshop - I'm trying to get this done as quickly and nicely as I can.

But I'm too tired now to do anymore, so I put the drawing table aside to work on tomorrow.

The next morning I started by plugging all the pocket holes with glue and wood plugs.

When those dried I began sanding....a lot!

I used almost every sander and sandpaper to completely sand the whole desk.

Once I finished sanding I then added wood filler to the spots that needed it.

While the filler was drying I decided to make a small box and connect it to the side of the desk.  This will be a good spot for my paint brushes.

I also added a small wall to the back and side of the table - the part that doesn't open.  This will keep things from falling or rolling off my desk.

Once all the filler dried I sanded once more.

Then I cleaned the whole thing and prepped for staining.

Staining took a while but was worth it... looks pretty darn good to me!

I let the stain dry overnight, and applied some spray on clear coat the next day.

I decided on spray on enamel since I really don't want to wait days for polyurethane to dry.  Spray on enamel dries very quickly, but it does leave a lot of fuzziness.

But that is easily sanded off.  I sanded the whole table once more with very fine sandpaper and let the whole thing air out for a few hours.

Then, I attached 2 of these hook latches to keep the table top fully down when closed.  I may store paper pads and whatnot inside the desk, and if those things push up on the desk top, then it will be hard to do any accurate work on it.

I also added a few hooks on the left side to hang rulers, triangles and curve templates from.

Lastly I decided to apply some furniture wax onto the whole thing.  This will give it a little added protection and luster.

I'm all done!  Now it's time to move it inside.

Moving this thing was not easy, but after a while I finally got it in my office.

I wasted no time setting up.

I put my acrylic paint brushes in the side box and hung up one of my rulers.

I put a few of my paper pads, books and air brush parts in the side shelves.

The other side has my acrylic and water color paints.

Underneath the desk top I stored my other drawing/painting pads.

This desk is big! And it's quite awesome.

I can't wait to start drawing and painting again!

My new ritual every morning is to sit at the drawing table and start sketching.  I haven't seriously drawn much in about 10 years!  My first day of sketching was with pencils and shading.

The next day I worked with my pen and nib set, practicing some cursive writing and making little cartoons of my dog.

The third day I tried to emulate an old picture I like from Fashion week NYC...

Above is the original Fashion week image.  I tried recreating the image...

...with me as the model.  

And most recently I played a little with charcoal and color pencils.

This bearded caricature of me from the winter is my new facebook profile picture.

Then came a hummingbird picture for my girlfriend, made with pencil and marker.

I still have a lot of practice to do on my drawing, but now I have the perfect table to do so!

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE:  A few days later I decided to add a pencil sharpener to my table - one of those old winding sharpeners that used to be fixed to the wall in the front of classrooms when I was young.  I couldn't find the old metal ones in any stores, but I did find this plastic one. 

The only bad thing about this sharpener is that it has a rubber bottom that when you turn the small handle at the base of the unit it's supposed to create a suction which holds it stationary.  Suffice it to say that the suction doesn't work very well - but the actual sharpener works great.  So I decided to take off the rubber bottom...

...which then gave me space to build a mount.

I cut some scrap wood to fit inside the base of the unit.

Then I drilled and screwed screws through the existing hole from the suction handle mechanism.

Next I cut another scrap piece of wood and drilled 8 holes in it....

 ...4 on the inside, which will connect to the sharpener unit...

...and 4 on the outside to connect to my drawing table.

But I can't connect it yet - I need to stain the base to match the table.  I took the sharpener off and quickly stained the base.

Then I applied some clear coat.

When that dried I then reattached the sharpener to the base, and then the whole thing to the right side of the table.

A perfect point each time!

I really can't think of anything else to add to the table.  I love it!

Thanks for reading!

Update:  I did think of something else to add to my table...
The first thing was a simple box, with a few dividers so that I can put my watercolor brushes, and scissors/pliers/etc on my table top.  I didn't want my watercolor brushes mixed in with my acrylic paint brushes.

The second thing was a drawer organizer.

And it fits pretty well in the drawer.  Now I separated my X-acto knives, drawing pencils and markers, charcoal, color pencils, markers and ink.  It's very organized now!

Thanks for reading!

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