How to make a basic easel

I have been looking into getting a large easel as my portable easel is just too flimsy for the larger paintings I have been working on. So my current paintings have been sitting on the floor of the studio, propped up against a wall, while I have been working on them.  This in itself is not too much of a problem except for when I have to paint the bottom section I end up painting the floor as well. In addition to this my knees haven’t looked clean for a month now with all the kneeling!

I have done some research into studio easels and not only are they not portable (I have a very small car) they are also incredibly expensive anywhere from $350 right up to well over $1100.. way, way, way out of my price range. So what is a girl to do?  Before consigning myself to a life of filthy knees and painted floor spaces I decided to look into how to make my own. There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to build a studio easel.. still I have this problem of getting it from my garage to the studio in a mirco car. Tricky. So I hatched a plan to build my own that will break down for easy storage and transportation, will be very cost effective and effectively hold boards of 1.2m + wide.

Here’s what I came up with: A basic easel that rests against a wall that is adjustable for use with small or larger painting supports.. nifty huh?


Simple, effective and a total cost of just under $20 and about 20 minutes of my life. Here’s how I did it..

You will need:

  • 2 x 64mm x 19mm x 1.8m lengths of pine
  • 2 x 42mm x 19mm x 1.2m lengths of pine
  • 9mm multi-purpose drill bit
  • 4 hex bolts long enough to go through the thickness of the wood with some room to spare (I used 75mm)
  • a drill ( I used my drill press, but a hand drill will be fine)
  • a hand saw
  • a tape measure
  • a pencil

Assemble all your materials and tools. nothing worse than trying to find something in the middle of the project!!


Lengths of pine that I bought at Bunnings

Step 1: Take your tape measure and pencil and long planks and measure 10 mm from one end (repeat on both planks). This will be the top of your easel, where the top support will be bolted.

Step 2: Take the tape measure and one of the long planks and measure 800 mm from the top, mark this spot with your pencil. This will be your first “peg hole”.  Then repeat every 10 mm until you get to 1300 mm which will be your bottom “peg hole”.  Repeat the process on the second long plank. This will form the upright parts of your easel.

"peg" or shelf holes in the  main frame pieces

“peg” or shelf holes in the main frame pieces

Step three: Take the two short planks and measure 1 metre on each.  Cut both to size with the hand saw.

Step four: Take one of the short planks and on the flat side mark 10 mm from each end and then 3 more holes 10 mm apart, moving toward the centre of the plank, at each end. This will form the top support beam of your easel. (see main picture)

Step 5: Take the other short plank and on the narrow edge mark a hole 10mm from each end. This will form the shelf that supports your painting and is the bottom support beam as well.


Bottom support beam and painting shelf

Step 6: Arm yourself with your drill and proceed to drill holes where you have marked them on all the planks. Make sure that you use a drill bit that is just slightly bigger than the bolts.  My 9 mm multi-purpose bit was perfect. Clean up the holes with a small round file, if necessary, as this will stop the nuts becoming jammed up with little bits of wood.

Step 7: Assemble by using the bolts to hold it all together. Start by bolt the top support into the holes nearest each end ( the other holes are there for some adjustability depending on your painting size.) Next bolt your shelf/bottom support on.

Step 8: Prop against a wall and Paint on!!

Assembled easel

Assembled easel – click for larger view


One thought on “How to make a basic easel

  1. great project idea, I like how you did it on the cheap as well. Check out my project over at my blog “The Artist’s Helper” is totally revolutionary.

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