Drafting Table

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I draw (drew) quite a lot at work – facade details and wotnot. My office continually strives for a paperless state so working with pen-and-paper has now been more or less eradicated, unfortunately. During the COVID19 lockdown I quite enjoyed drawing at home, so I bought an old drafting desk off New Zealand’s odd version of eBay.

The photo in the TradeMe auction. I went and picked it up from a fibre-glassing place. You can see some of the pieces they fabricate in the background.

Here’s what I ended up with:

  1. A Dargue Brothers Simplon drafting desk.
  2. A Pentax TN Drafting Machine
  3. A slightly water-damaged cedar drawing surface. Not original to the base – it has the imprint of another base on its underside. Definitely cedar – smells of pencil sharpenings.

The Base

1930s maybe? Who knows. The internet does not give many clues – two similar examples. Its made of steel and cast iron. No plastic components except some little rubber grommets near the foot lever.

from https://juxtaposhlbk.com/products/darque-bros-ltd-simplon-english-drafting-table-c-1930s I think the top and drawing machine here are the original ones. The same base I have. Not 100% sure if same ”original” paint job.

The Drawing Machine

Pentax (Japan) was a big name in film cameras and precision engineering. It went the same way as all those other great Japanese brands at the beginning of the 21 century. Defunct.

Now owned by Ricoh, another (ebbing?) Japanese brand.

I think ‘the machine’ is from the 80s, based on similar equipment I came across on the internet.


Finished desk in our living room complete with plans of our house in-progress.

Paint mistake

The table is unbelievably heavy due the to cast iron side bits and the mechanism counterweight. Consequently, my wife and I could simply not get it into our mountainside fortress of a house, so I dismantled it…and then decided to clean it up

…and paint it.

I am kind of regretting this decision – the painting. 90years and patina out of the window. It was covered in a crust of office crud and fibreglass dust through so perhaps for the best?

I do wonder if fashions today are to have a crusty-old bit of ‘vintage’, but tomorrow restored-as-new will be en vogue?

Anyway, I painted it with 3 coats of Rustguard Hammered-Finish blue paint and that’s that.

Mending the drawing machine

Calling it a drawing machine kind of implies it does the drawing – it doesn’t – its effectively just an elaborate Helix geometry set.

The locking mechanisms on both axes of the drawing machine were not working – they use plastic shoes which clamp into the aluminium running rails when the locking levers are engaged. The 30+ year old plastic had long perished. I replaced with leather pads.

Cedar top

Gave this good sand which took off most of the water staining and oiled with Orange Oil, which I had never heard of Looks great, though a fair bit darker than the original untreated cedar.