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Build an easel - Plans and Instructions

an easel with a painting on it

An 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 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

75x50 (2x3) lumber - 2 pieces at 2065mm (82 3/8") and 1 piece at 2025mm (81").
100x50 (2x4) lumber - 1 piece at 1200mm (4ft).
18mm (3/4") plywood - 1 piece 1200x825 (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 75x50 (2x3) stock can't be obtained, it can be ripped out of 150x50 (2x6) stock.

It can also be replaced by 50x50 (2x2) stock for a flimsier version or 100x50 (2x4) stock for a sturdier version.

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


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.
Click on an image below to go to a page with an enlarged version.

painting on easel of girl asleep painting on easel of girl sitting painting on easel of girl standing painting on easel of girl walking painting on easel of tree painting on easel of a wave

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