DIY: Drafting Table Turned Dining Room Table

Drafting Table as Dining Table

Back when I was in architecture school there was a posting from a much older alumni who was looking to pass along his old drafting table.  He wanted to give the thing away for free but he wanted it to go to a good home (and preferably to an architect who would use it).  Well, the thing was gorgeous.  It was big, the height could be adjusted, the table top could tilt, and it was built back in the 50s so it was solid wood with cast metal parts.  Pure wonderful.

He gave it to me and I used the desk as a drafting table for years.  For better or worse, architects now use different tools (mostly computers) so the desk was used less and less for its original purpose.  Slowly, it became more of my “craft” desk where I would allow many projects to accumulate on its large, flat surface.  But, it was so large and barely used, I considered passing it along.  Sadly, many people have since found these large drafting tables to be too cumbersome and classifieds often have these beautiful desks listed for almost nothing.  Besides, I didn’t really want to part with the only “nice” piece of furniture I owned (i.e. furniture not built from particle board).

When we moved, I again faced the decision of whether or not to bring this giant table along.  Luckily, I did.  Once in our new home we realized we needed a large dining room table but, having just moved, we didn’t have much money to spend on buying a nice dining room table.  At the suggestion of a past coworker, I decided to turn my old drafting table into a dining room table.

Looking at some suggestions online, there were several tutorials that became very complex.  The drafting table, at its lowest height, is a few inches taller than a standard dining room table.  Some tutorials had you cut a piece of the drafting table to lower the table top height, but I didn’t want to permanently alter (or destroy) the abilities of the original desk.  So I simply lowered the desk to its lowest height and called it good:

Drafting Table as Dining Table: adjustable height

See that center “leg” in the photo above?  That is how you adjust the height and I simply adjusted it all the way down instead of cutting it.  Simple, right?

Next, since the table top is meant to tilt, it was a little wobbly.  To fix that I simply added some heavy duty shelf brackets underneath the table:

Drafting Table as Dining Table: heavy duty bracketsI would have preferred the brackets to be black, but I knew this project would need heavy duty brackets and I could only find those readily available in gray.  Close enough.

Next, some tutorials had you build a whole new top.  Looking at my desk, the top was already solid wood, it just wasn’t an attractive color.  So I sanded the whole thing down, then stained and sealed it:

Drafting Table as Dining Table

I’d still like to have a better clear coat on the top, and there are some metal rails on the sides of the table that I’d like to paint (black, maybe?) but this was a super easy way to bring new life to my old drafting table.  And now I use it every day.  We ordered some dining room chairs, and they are a little low compared to the table height, but overall a pretty good fit.  One day, I’d like to add a bench for seating, but the whole thing came together much better than I could have imagined.