What is a Tracing Desk?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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A tracing desk is a lap or tabletop desk that has a lighted surface to make tracing images or lettering easy. Ideal for tracing templates for a variety of art and craft projects, a tracing desk is small enough for storage, but sufficient for accomplishing many tasks. Many tracing desks are powered by electricity, but some are battery powered for portable use.

Many well-known school and office supply manufacturers make a tracing desk of one kind or another. Crayola manufactures a laptop-style tracing desk for kids, complete with colored pencils and themed template designs for tracing. Fiskars manufacturers a type of tracing desk called the Embossing Light Boss Kit. It has a lighted surface for tracing, and the surface also accommodates their embossing templates.

Whether made for a child or an adult, a tracing desk has numerous uses. Children can create their own images for coloring from favorite books and movies. Scrapbook fans will find that a tracing desk enables them to easily transfer designs to multiple sheets of paper for paper crafts. Tracing a favorite image to be filled in with watercolor pencils can add a classic artful touch to projects. With a tracing desk, many projects can be completed without the use of transfer or tracing paper.


When purchasing a tracing desk, remember that the light in an electric powered tracing desk is a bit brighter than the light in a battery powered one, but if you require portable convenience, which is especially nice for kids, then a battery powered tracing desk is the way to go. The light source in a battery powered tracing desk is typically not suitable for tracing onto dark papers, but plain white or manila drawing paper will work fine.

If you consider combining the possibilities of a tracing desk with a light projector, you can branch into a whole new realm of creativity for the home. Tracing a design or image from one source and projecting it large scale onto a wall, for instance, is a great way to pull an entire room together. You can also use this method to paint a wall mural like a pro.


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