How to Make a DIY Adjustable Drafting Table from Any Desktop

How to Make a DIY Adjustable Drafting Table from Any Desktop

Welcome to our newest blog series, My Total Office Makeover, in which Curbly's editor-in-chief, Chris Gardner, realizes that as a full-time design and craft blogger working from home, he'd better transform his second bedroom into an inspiring space where work can actually get done.

created at: 01/16/2011

Part V: The DIY Drafting Table Having figure out adequate storage solutions, a media workstation, and an all-purpose desk for general work, the last major furniture solution loomed: I needed a large work surface for art and craft projects: sewing, fabric-cutting, drawing, papercrafts, design and layout, etc. It'd have been awesome to have a dedicated cutting table and an drafting table, but I wouldn't have the room. A large drafting table would work, but they're often very large, and the support trestles can take up a lot of space, and I didn't have any to spare.

When I discovered the IKEA VIKA BLECKET top, with its built it lightbox option, tool tray, and generous size, I knew it'd be perfect, but the recommended ARTUR trestles had a large footprint, and wouldn't fit in my current room design. So, I came up with a hacked option that would allow for the adjustable angle, but not suck up so much valuable floor space. And I saved a little money as well.


  • Flat desk surface, such as a secondhand table, solid core door, or new modular desktop, like the IKEA VIKA system
  • 2x desk-height table legs, like the IKEA VIKA CURRY
  • 2x adjustable-height table legs, like the IKEA VIKA KAJ
  • 2x heavy-duty 3" one-way hinges and accompanying screws
  • scrap 1/2" plywood and hardboard
  • saw
  • electric drill and assorted bits
  • metal file or rotary tool

created at: 01/16/2011
1. The idea here is to place the adjustable legs on the back, and the standard legs in the front, allowing the angle of the table to be adjusted. Since changing the height of the back of the table will necessitate a different angle of contact at the front of the table, the hinges allow for that adjustment. The scrap wood allows for accommodation of the hinge, and provides a strong surface into which the screws can bite.

created at: 01/16/2011

2. So,  cut the 1/4" hardboard or plywood into 3"x 2 1/2" rectangles, and secure them to the front of the table by drilling pilot holes and then attaching the hinges via screws, as in the photo above.

created at: 01/16/2011
3. Then, cut the 1/2" plywood into 4" x 4 1/2" lengths and secure to the other side of the hinge. (Please ignore the stripped screws...I know better than that. Drill pilot holes!)

created at: 01/16/2011

4. Use a file, grinder, or rotary cutter to cut or smooth any protrusion of the screws, then attach the fixed legs to this side of the plywood.

5. Then, attach the adjustable legs to the back of the desktop, and invert. Set the back legs to the desired height (if you're using the IKEA legs, it's lefty-tighty for some reason). 

The only flaw in this system is that the desk has to sit further from the wall the higher the back goes, but it's not terribly far. And obviously, the desk can't sit vertically as in some drafting tables, but it can't do that on the IKEA trestle either. It gets to nearly a 45-degree angle, and that's good enough for me.

You could also use the adjustable legs on the front as well, and still use the hinge-technique on the legs.


Buy or DIY? 

Save some space with this handy craft table from Studio Designs.

Crafting table

$125.99 on Amazon

Here's mine set flat for fabric cutting tasks:

created at: 01/16/2011


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Michael on Aug 02, 2014:

Help me I mean.

Michael on Aug 02, 2014:

Yes I'm interested in buying this kind of desk. Can any body please me make one for me or how to purchase this table? I want to buy it, for my work. How much? Thank you I really appreciated

Chris Gardner on Aug 08, 2011:

Veronique - Do you mean the hardboard in between the hinge and the actual table? The darker brown in my photos?

Is your IKEA table top solid where you're trying to screw in? Alot of the ones I've seen are hollow on the inside, but have solid material in the corners for legs. If there's nothing behind it, there's no way screws are gonna hold. You could try gluing and clamping some 3/4" plywood onto the bottom of the table to give the screws something to bit into. See: http://www.curbly.com/chrisjob/posts/9708-my-total-office-makeover-how-to-make-a-custom-diy-desk-ikea-hack

Veronique on Aug 06, 2011:

Did exactly as you said, but the hindges on the small piece of plywood pulled right out of the bottom of the table. Trying another variation that I hope works, but figured I'd mention and see if you had any advice, or maybe a step was left out inadvertiently. My plan is to use it to do calligraphy. Got this table top in AS IS section at our IKEA for $8! Even with the extras and the time, it's still going to be much more affordable!!! Thanks!

Jared on Feb 25, 2011:

What is and where did you get the ledge that is just under the lamp in the first photo? It looks like its perfect for storing a scale rule and pens in handy!

Chris Gardner on Feb 21, 2011:

@Nartholis - the hinges are opened and placed such that it stays 90-degrees to the horizontal plane. Well, maybe 87-88 degrees but it works; I'm actually sitting on the front of it as I type this, to test your concern, and its very steady. I'm trying to push it forward, and can't, really. I agree it's not an industrial strength solution, but it's a great option for me given my space requirements and needs.

@Steven - I got it at the art supply store. http://www.dickblick.com/products/alvin-spin-o-tray/ It came in black, but I sprayed on a few coats of the same color I used on the lamp and other fixtures around the room

narthollis on Feb 20, 2011:

What keeps the front legs 90-degrees to the ground?

It looks to me like too much weight on the table would cause the table to tip forwards, untill the front legs were again 90-degrees to table.

Steven on Feb 20, 2011:

Where did you get the marker/pencil storage?  I have been looking for something like that for weeks!!!

Chris Gardner on Feb 08, 2011:

@ Meaghan - I'm pretty sure that's an Amy Butler from a few years ago. I bought it in the remnant section of a local shop. Unfortunately, I can't speak to the particular pattern or if it's still available.

Good luck. I hope it works for you. Please post a photo of your finished piece.

meaghan on Feb 08, 2011:

this is the project i have been looking for!!  this is a great hack.  i can't wait to get to ikea to get my project on!  well done! also- where did you get the fabric in your photo?

Chris Gardner on Jan 31, 2011:

@ Curious - You can see in the second- and third-to-last ohotos that the hinges are in the front right and left corners of the table. In the image with the sparks, the wood square that sits in the corner is attached to the hinge, and the leg is attached to the plywood.

The hinges change the angle that the legs relate to the table. As the back rises, the table angle is adjusted. If the legs were always at 90-degrees to the tabletop, they would then move as the table is changed. The hinges allow the legs to stay at a right angle to the floor regardless of the position of the table.

curious on Jan 29, 2011:

Can you please post a picture of where the hinges are on the table (eg, the underbelly of the table)?  I still don't quite understand how they're done or why they're needed..  Thank you!

Anonymous on Jan 24, 2011:

thank you for this post.   i am looking forward to this project.  could you also mention where you purchased that marker holder? thanks.

lukeg on Jan 21, 2011:

hey, nice post, good inspiration! about stripped screws - pilot holes are great, as you noted. have you tried an impact driver? they cost a little more than a standard drill but will make life much more pleasant :-)


i'm headed to ikea this weekend to round up the parts for this project!

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