Long have I dreamed of my own mega-sized drafting table that hearkened back to my BFA days, but the reality of that is a $1000-$3000 price tag. Um?...No. Not going to happen.
The good news is, with some hardware store supplies and some DIY gusto you can take these IKEA parts and build your own drawing table for under $200!
Here are the supplies you will need:
- 1x LINNMON table top. I used the 59"x29 1/2" size, whatever color you like!
- 2x LERBERG Trestle table leg. I like the trestle style leg, but you can pick up which ever legs you like best.
- Rockler Adjustable Drafting Table Hardware
- 2x Everbilt 1-1/2 in. x 12 in. Continuous Hinge
- 1x Alvin Metal Pencil Ledge 44"
- 1 box 2" Wood Screws
- 1 box #6 1/2" Wood Screws
- 15x #6 Washers
- 4x 1/8" x 2" Toggle Bolts
- 4x #6 1" Machine Screws
- 2x 8 ft. 1"x4" pine board (I chose construction grade as it is the cheapest and I don't mind digging around for good pieces, but that is really up to you and your budget!)
- 2x 6 ft. 1"x8" pine board
- 1x 8 ft. 2"x2" (I used this portion for securing the legs to my table, if you use different legs you may not need this supply.)
- 2x Black spray paint (or your color of choice)
- 2x Satin clear coat spray paint (or your finish of choice)
- Tape measure or ruler
- Miter Saw
- Power Drill
- Drill bit kit for pilot holes and anchor holes
- Phillips Screw Driver/ Screw Driver Bit
- Hole Punch
- Corner clamps
- Wood glue
- Paper towel or Rag
- Pen/ pencil for marking
- Rubber Mallet
- SAFETY GOGGLES!!!
- PROTECTIVE MASK for spray paint ing
The Table Design:
To turn these simple IKEA items into a bad-ass drawing table you will have to construct a box frame. The box frame meets the minimum depth requirements for the Drafting Table Hardware which will sit inside the frame on the two inner cross boards. The two outside boards are the attachment point for the table legs.
I am using my drawing table as part of an existing desk to make an "L" shape. I didn't want to have too great of a height difference between the two tables so I chose to nestle the legs inside the box frame. You can easily mount your legs on the bottom of your box frame, if you wish, by simply moving the outside boards to the bottom position, the same as the inside boards.
The box frame is designed to be 2" smaller than the back and sides of the table top. This is insurance for your fingers. The drafting table hardware goes from an angled to flat position by lifting up and using gravity to put the table-top flat again. Ever get your fingers caught in one of those heavy school tables? Yeah, ouch. Your digits will thank you for this design feature.
Now that we've discussed design, let's get into the build:
1. Box frame.
- I used a simple butt joint to construct my frame. I'm not too worried about appearances, and I'm painting mine black anyway, so no one will notice. Feel free to get all fancy with 45 degree angle joints if you wish.
- Grab your 1"x4" pine board. Measure out two pieces at 55", and another two pieces at 26". REMEMBER: YOU CAN ONLY CUT ONCE, SO TAKE YOUR TIME AND MEASURE TWICE.
- Cut your pieces. Don't forget to take into account the blade width, about 1/8". Be consistent with which side of your measure line you bias your cut towards and you should be golden.
- Grab your corner clamps, pilot hole bit, 2" wood screws and wood glue. Clamp your pieces together to form your frame (I only have two corner clamps so I did mine one side at a time, on the long side.) Drill two pilot holes for each corner. Take each corner apart and follow the instructions on your wood glue to apply. Next, put the pieces back together using the clamps, and screw them together. Wipe away excess glue. Here's what you should end up with:
2. Cross Boards.
- Grab your 1"x8" boards. Measure out 4 boards at 26". Try and be as accurate as possible here. These are easier to attach to the frame if they are a bit tight fitting.
- Make your cuts.
- Pick the frame up and place it upright, resting on one of the long ends. (If your boards fit very tightly it may be easier to place them first using the mallet while the frame is still lying flat, and then pick the frame up. I found my boards kept falling out when I tried this.)
- It is easiest to start with the outermost boards, the ones that sit in the corners. Line up the board with either the top or bottom of the frame (your choice, depending on which legs you are using and the height desired for your table) and use the rubber mallet to tap it into place. When you are satisfied with its position, grab a friend and have them push down on the frame, holding the board in place with friction as you drill 2 pilot holes. No glue needed here, so just add your screws. Do the same for the board on the other end of the frame, then flip over the frame and secure the boards with screws on the other side.
- Do the same for the inner cross boards.
3. Building the Leg Attachment Mechanism.
- The trestle legs are a bit tricky. They don't come with any hardware for attaching them to the table top. The table is suppose to just rest on them. I don't know about you, but I lean on my desk a lot so that totally doesn't work for me. If you purchased a different set of legs which require permanent attachment, you should hold off attaching your legs until STEP 6.
- My solution: Using 2"x2" and wood glue I constructed a frame for my legs to rest in. I measured the legs width (1") and length (18"), then marked out the location from the center of the cross board. Repeat for each end.
- Next, I measured out my 2"x2". The measurements for the LERBERG Trestle legs are 4x 2"x2" at 18", and 4x 2"x2" at 3 3/4". Cut your pieces and glue them into place. Clean up excess glue and gently place your trestle leg into the slot. The glue will still be workable at this point and this ensures you haven't made the slot too tight to fit the leg. My cuts were a little off, so I had to adjust by sliding the wood pieces out slightly. Once you are satisfied with the fit, put the leg aside and leave the frame to dry overnight.
- Now the legs fit nicely and won't jiggle or slide around while I'm working. We'll attach the legs after the table is done, in STEP 6.
- Pretty self explanatory. Go outside, and follow the directions on your spray can to apply your chosen paint color to your desk frame. After giving the proper drying time, apply your clear coat using the directions on the can. I should probably add- WEAR GLOVES AND A MASK. I've had black paint on my fingers for two days now. IT WON'T COME OFF.
5. Time to attach the continuous hinges!
- I found it was easiest to attach the 1 1/2"x12" continuous hinge to the desk frame first, then attach it to the table top. Line up your hinges about 5" in on either corner on the front of your desk frame. I mounted mine flush against the edge so the hinge part wouldn't stick out. It is important to make sure the two hinges are level with one another. Go ahead and screw them into place with the 1/2" Wood Screws.
- Now for the tricky part- attaching the continuous hinges to the table top. The IKEA LINNMON table top is about 1 1/2" thick, so I found some books and stuff to prop the desk frame onto to make them even. Have a friend help you out here, it'll make it waaaay easier. Take a look at the pics below to get an idea of how to set this up. You want the table top to be flush with the edge of the desk frame. Also, I measured in 2" on either side of the underside of my table top and marked it so I could easily line up the desk frame to be centered with the table top.
- Before you continue, test your freshly installed hinges a few time to make sure they are lined up properly. Squeaky is alright, but they should operate smoothly.
6. Attach the legs to your table.
- Mine were easy, just flip the desk top over the right way and slide the legs into their slots on the bottom.
7. Attaching the drafting table hardware to the desk frame.
- Here are the instructions that should have come with your Adjustable Drafting Table Hardware. Attach the hardware to the desk frame first, by following the instructions. You should end up with this:
- Why does my table top have two holes in it? Am I cheating and getting ahead of you? I attempted to continue to follow Rockler's instructions by measuring out the required distance on the table top, marking my line and screwing the hardware into place. The hardware is designed to screw into a solid wood table top, and the one I have is hollow. So, the screws came right out when I tested the table. Poo. Lucky for us there are toggle bolts.
- Open up your toggle bolt package and set aside 4 toggle bolts, ditch the 2" machine screws, those are too long, and grab 4 of the 1" machine screws.
- Continue to follow the Rockler instructions by measuring 11 7/8" from the center pin of the hinge and mark a line on the underside of the table top. I hope you still have your friend around, this is another step where it would be handy to have octopus arms. Line up the screw holes of the hardware with the line you made (so you see the line in the center of the screw hole) and trace the holes with your pencil. Now you have a handy guide for where to drill holes for your toggle bolts.
- According to the toggle bolt packaging you will need a 3/8" drill bit for the holes. MAKE SURE TO MARK THE BIT WITH TAPE SO THAT IT IS LESS THAN THE DEPTH OF THE TABLE TOP. You don't want to accidentally drill a hole straight through to the top of your beautiful new table!
- Drill your holes, then attach the hardware. Toggle bolts are tricky. I'll wait while you finish cursing...
- Gently test the drafting table hardware to make sure it is functioning properly and remaining securely attached. Almost finished!
8. Attach the metal pencil ledge.
- Just when you thought you were out of the woods, the pencil ledge will throw you another curve ball. When I ordered mine online, the picture on Amazon made it look flat, but in fact, it has an irritating 1/8" lip on the bottom. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA. HOW DO YOU OVER-ENGINEER A PENCIL LEDGE??? Here is what to do:
- Align the pencil ledge flush with the top of the table top in the place you would like it located (Mine is biased towards the left since I am making an L-shaped desk). Make a mark for your screws in the DOWN position. Drill a pilot hole or use your punch if you like, I find it helpful.
- Slide one of the screws through the hole on the pencil ledge, then add 5 washers to the other side. Screw the pencil ledge with washers into place. You'll repeat this 3 times for each screw location. It shouldn't be too tight since you'll want to be able to put the pencil ledge into the up or down position freely. Some photos to help you out:
Hey, guess what? You're all done! Now go and enjoy your awesome new drawing table. It's pretty tall so you can fit some large paper on it! Have fun and be messy. :)
Leave any questions or problems in the comments and I'll see what I can do to help!