New Underwater Drawing Board

I have been using the same underwater drawing board for the past 25 years. Originally created whilst I was living in France in 1995 it has served me very well, with a few minor adaptations, for all this time. Over the years though the challenge of joining together or aligning individual sheets as they are drawn has become more and more of an issue for me. While creating the drawing it is quite straightforward to align the second sheet below the first, and also to align the third sheet next to the first (making an upside down L shape, but placing the fourth sheet to fill the gap and making sure that both edges align with the second and third sheets can be extremely difficult and immensely frustrating.

After musing on this subjec endlessly (while struggling to join drawings) I decided to build a system which would allow me to draw on a roll of drafting film which I could scroll across the drawing board. In this way I would only ever have to align one join, from the top scroll to the one below it, and the next below that, and so on. Very straightforward as the edge of the top drawing scroll is simply traced onto the next scroll.

The pieces shown here are quite simple, a length of aluminium angle, a few bits of PVC pipe and fittings, some screws washers and bolts and the same body as the original drawing board, plywood backing and a perspex sheet.

The idea seemed good, I was pretty sure it would work but there were lots of unknowns. Would the drafting film roll slide across the board? How much tension would be needed? Perhaps most importantly would the drawing be smudged or rubbed out as it was rolled onto the left hand roller? Plenty of other little questions which would only be answered by actually using the board.

The individual components are shown here. Tension is provided by nylon and spring washers under the nut at the left (the base) of each side and the T piece at the right (the top) is the handle which allows the roll of film to be scrolled across. The film is taped to the inner PVC pipe with the film/drawing protected by a larger PVC tube cut along its length. This inner PVC pipe also has to be removable so the T piece is attached only by a split pin.

I took the board down to South Beach one morning to try it out and to my great pleasure it all seemed to work. The drafting film scrolled across OK but needed almost no tension at all, the flotation was a little weak, later fixed by gluing some bits of polystyrene to the back of the board. All that remained was to try it out but that would have to wait till my next trip north for field work.