Build an Artists Easel

Artists easel – Plans and Instructions

an easel with a painting on it

An artists easel is a freestanding, three-legged frame structure, usually made of wood, which is used by an artist to hold a canvas upright while it’s being worked on, or to exhibit the piece of artwork.

This artists easel is big, solid and bulky. It stands 2000mm (6′ 8″) high.

I first made it some six years ago under the directions of my daughters. At the time I thought it was cumbersome. However, it passed all trials, stood the test of time and became the budding young artist’s favorite painting tool.

It has helped produce many paintings and is still well used today.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see some of the paintings which have been created on this easel.

easel side plans

Materials required

75×50 (2×3) lumber – 2 pieces at 2065mm (82 3/8″) and 1 piece at 2025mm (81″).
100×50 (2×4) lumber – 1 piece at 1200mm (4ft).
18mm (3/4″) plywood – 1 piece 1200×825 (48″x 33″)
10mm (3/8″) carriage bolts – 2 at 170mm (7″) and 1 at 125mm (5″).
• A hand full of 60mm (2 1/2″) nails and a bit of wood glue.

Note: If 75×50 (2×3) stock can’t be obtained, it can be ripped out of 150×50 (2×6) stock.

It can also be replaced by 50×50 (2×2) stock for a flimsier version or 100×50 (2×4) stock for a sturdier version.

Use treated lumber, galvanized bolts and galvanized nails if the easel is to be used and left outside.

Note: As well as this free online version, You can also purchase this plan in downloadable PDF file, print-friendly and in clean copy (free of ads) for only $5.00Click here to purchase.
The plans can be purchased online and immediately downloaded to your computer.


Step 1. Cut the members

Cut the two front legs 2065mm (82 3/8″) long. Angle cut the tops 15° as shown in the drawing.
Measure 1950mm (78″) up from the bottom of both front legs and drill a 10mm (3/8″) hole through the face (widest) side at right angles to the angle cut. See fig.2 in the plan drawing below.

Cut the rear leg 2025mm (81″) long. Drill two 10mm (3/8″) holes through the face (widest) side, one up 975 (39″) from the bottom and the other up 1850mm (74″).

Cut the horizontal cross member 1200mm (4ft) long.

Cut the 18mm (3/4″) plywood backing board 1200 (48″) long x 825 (33″) wide.

Step 2. Leg assembly

plans of an artists easel

Lay the three legs on the ground with the rear leg in the middle.

Line up the holes in the tops of the legs.

Put a bolt through the holes and loosely place a washer and nut on the end of the bolt.

Spread the two front legs at the bottom until they are 1125mm (45″) apart. See fig.1.

Tighten the nut.

Step 3. Complete assembly

With the leg assembly still lying on the ground, and with the tops of the legs bolted together and the bottoms spread apart 1125mm (45″), then center and drill and bolt the horizontal cross member to the front legs 950mm (38″) up from the bottom of each front leg. See fig.1.

Glue and nail the plywood backing board to the front legs positioned as shown in fig.1. Ensure that there is glue between the bottom edge of the backing board and the horizontal cross member.

Step 4. Stand and tie

Stand the easel upright and arrange (spread) the legs until the easel is at a convenient angle.

Add a rope to stop the easel from spreading any further apart. Thread one end of the rope through the hole in the rear leg and tie off.

Tie the other end of the rope to an eye screw fixed to the back of the cross member. That’s it! Go and paint.


Below are some of the paintings that have been created on this easel.

The size of the plywood backing panel on the easel is 1200mm (4ft) wide x 825mm (48″x 33″) so that will give a perspective as to the size of the painting.

Girl sleeping - painting by Roseanne and Jacqui Kenny
Painting above is ‘Girl sleeping’ painted by Roseanne and Jacqui Kenny

Girl resting - painting by Roseanne and Jacqui Kenny
Painting above is ‘Girl resting’ painted by Roseanne and Jacqui Kenny

Girl standing - painting by Roseanne and Jacqui Kenny
Painting above is ‘Girl standing’ painted by Roseanne and Jacqui Kenny

Girl walking - painting by Roseanne Kenny
Painting above is ‘Girl walking’ painted by Roseanne Kenny

Tree - painted by Angela Kenny
Painting above is ‘Tree’ painted by Angela Kenny

Surf wave-painted by Angela Kenny
Painting above is ‘Surf wave’ painted by Angela Kenny

Post your handiwork

If you do this project we would love to see a photograph and your story. You can post your handiwork here

Photos of your handiwork

Artists easel made by Keith Doucet

Thought I’d send along a copy of my easel I built from your plans.
Made a couple mistakes when drilling the hole for the legs (forgot to lay the legs and the back leg on the floor with the angled cuts pressed against the back leg) so my holes for the front legs didn’t exactly match up when I passed or I should say attempted to pass the bolt through.
Rectified that mistake though and will cover the bolt holes (counter sunk the bolt head and nut) with wooden appliques.
Made mine from clear Ash because they didn’t have clear Pine on stock and Ash was cheaper than Pine or Oak.
Also cut a 1/4″ V grove into the cross piece on order to hold artwork in place better. Heavier pieces might have tended to slip off if displayed out doors.
Thanks again.
Keith Doucet, Tusket Nova Scotia

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