This week I added drawers. What a fun thing. To modify things. To make them better. Or at least to make them suit my needs better. Where I’ve added drawers is underneath the surface of my drawing table.

I’ve modified my drawing table quite a bit over the years. I originally bought it way back in about 1991. It wasn’t the best table I have ever seen. It’s basic structure seems a little needlessly complicated and it has always annoyed me that I have to undo two wing nuts to change the angle of the table. A classic drawing table has one big wheel on the left side that you loosen to change the table’s angle. That is a little easier than the two wing nut method.

For some reason the store I bought this at (Pearl Paint in NJ) didn’t have any tables in the classic big wheel style. I got this one because it was the best one they had. It has served me well over the years but it is not an example of outstanding craftsmanship. It’s solid and stays together but is hardly inspiring as a piece of furniture.

The first modification I made was to add a side tray to the table. That is a typical drawing table accouterment and nearly everyone I know gets one when they buy a table. The side tray screws on to one side of the table and has lots of little sections and wells to stick pens, pencils, erasers, and everything else in. It’s essential. Without it there’s no place to pile up your crap except the table top.

The second immediate modification I mad to my drawing table was to jack it up. I work standing up and tables are built for sitting down. It wasn’t tall enough. So I built a platform out of two by fours for the table to sit on. Then it was tall enough.

I also made the platform serve another purpose. It holds the barbell I used to use for curls. The barbell sits at nearly ground level across the bottom front of my table. It keeps the weights out of the way and anchors my drawing table very nicely. I don’t exercise with that barbell any more since I switched over to all dumbbells but it’s tucked away and not bothering anyone. And bump into the table all you want. It has seventy five pounds keeping it in place.

They other modifications I made to my drawing table mainly have to do with expanding the side tray. I’ve used wire, screws, and even tape to attach extra penholders and things onto the side of my side tray. Who can have enough penholders? My side tray is about twice as big as when I bought it. I have about fifty different pens, pencils, and markers sticking up out of it.

I also built a small platform for the left side of my drawing table. This holds my jars of water that I clean my brushes in as I work. It’s much smaller than the side tray since it’s main purpose is specific rather than the general “Holds everything” nature of the side tray.

I even built a little extension off of the top edge of my drawing table that holds a small plant.

My latest modification is one that’s been rolling around my brain for years. Since there is space immediately underneath the surface of the drawing table and since I stand at it and don’t sit then there is room for drawers. I always looked at the space and thought I could use it constructively.

What finally motivated me was the ever shrinking size of the work space I had on top of my drawing table. It was constantly being cluttered up with drawings and papers in general. Every so often I’d clean it off but I usually had no place for the stuff to go.

Sometimes I have ten or twenty drawings piled up that I had worked on in the last couple of weeks. Some would get past the drawing stage and be made into something but plenty wouldn’t. Either way I needed them handy to look at. Tucking them away wasn’t the answer even though that did clear off my drawing surface. Easy access drawers close by were the answer.

I searched out how to stick some drawers up under my drawing table. Turns out it was easy. I found a place on the internet that made “Add a Drawer” kits. They are made to go underneath any old work table. First you assemble the drawer and then you screw the top of it into the table’s underside. It was easy. It all took only a couple of hours to install.

The drawers were also a nice size for what I needed. They are twelve by eighteen inches plus about four inches tall. Since I work on a lot of eleven by seventeen inch paper (or smaller) they fit in the drawers neatly. I have two drawers side by side underneath my table.

So now I’ve reclaimed my drawing table’s surface space while still having a lot of drawings at my finger tips. Another modification that makes life a little easier. That’s what it’s about. If only the rest of life were as simple.