Portable Drafting Table / Suitcase

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Project by city17 posted 08-15-2019 05:06 PM 412 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi, this is the first project I’m posting here.

This is a portable drafting / drawing table that can also be used as a suitcase. I made two of these recently for friends who often go out into nature to draw together.

Missing from the pictures are the leather handle and the locking mechanism that I added later, but it’s pretty much the finished product.

It’s a bit heavy, but the people I made it for tend to travel by car mostly, so they just have to carry it the last mile :).

The sides are made from ash, and the top and bottom from 15mm and 9mm birch plywood. The bottom is secured in a groove on all four sides. I cut the top slightly oversized, and then (after I attached it) used a trim bit on the router to make it perfectly flush with the sides. This works quite well, but it can be tricky to not go too slow and risk burning the plywood sides.

6 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4118 posts in 1064 days

#1 posted 08-16-2019 11:18 AM

Nice portable desk. You can likely make it lighter by using thinner wood for the sides. I frequently use 3/8 sides instead of 3/4 (9mm instead of 18) and have found that with clear wood (no knots to weaken it) and straight grain, that’s plenty strong for small boxes.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View city17's profile


7 posts in 36 days

#2 posted 08-16-2019 12:14 PM

Thanks for the tip, Dave. It was the first portable desk I made so I made it slightly oversized so I could be sure it was strong enough. The top could probably also be reduced to 12 mm without risk of bending.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4118 posts in 1064 days

#3 posted 08-16-2019 03:22 PM

Yeah, I would use 7ply 12mm if available, but even 5-ply would do, I suspect. Still, I made a number of heavier boxes while figuring out what would work for me. Since they were shop furniture, no loss if they’re heavier than they need to be.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View Peteybadboy's profile


1017 posts in 2431 days

#4 posted 08-16-2019 09:08 PM

my dad was a pro model train guy. He had a portable desk/work station. We lost it in a flood. Great project.

-- Petey

View Ivan's profile


14941 posts in 3349 days

#5 posted 08-17-2019 07:04 AM

Cool stuff and good idea.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View ronstar's profile


519 posts in 4192 days

#6 posted 08-17-2019 10:43 AM

Great idea & construction!

-- Ron, Northern Illinois

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