Introduction: DIY Bob Ross Paint Palette

After reading reviews on the official Bob Ross Acrylic Painting Palette, I decided to give it a try and make my own. Several people have complained that after purchasing and using the store-bought version it cracked and was made from thin plastic. The cost for an official one runs you anywhere from $35 to $50. I probably spent about $40 for supplies for this project, and it really wasn't that difficult. If you are somewhat familiar with using power tools, then you should have no problem completing this project.


Items to buy:

- Piece of thick clear acrylic sheet from your local hardware store. (I chose an 18" x 24" Acrylic Sheet that was .220 inch thick (1/4"). The store bought versions are 1/8" thick. This was the most expensive piece, and it run me about $30.

- Blue Painter's Tape - the wider the better.

- Metal Cutting Jigsaw Blade.

- Step Bit Drill Bit

- Ratchet Clamps (any woodworking clamps will do, but you do need 2 of them).


- Jigsaw

- Power Drill

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Your Materials

I purchased the Acrylic Sheet from Lowes, but Home Depot has it too, and most home improvement stores carry it. The original Bob Ross Palette is 24" x 16.25", so I went with an 18" x 24" sheet. If you want it bigger or smaller, it's completely up to you. The 18" x 24" cost me about $30.

The other items I got from Harbor Freight for less than $15, with the painter's tape being the most expensive - go figure.

You will also need a jigsaw and a drill. When you buy the jigsaw drill bit, make sure you buy the right kind - whether it being a u or a t shank.

Step 2: Step 2: Prepare the Acrylic Sheet

When you're ready to go, start off by preparing the Acrylic Sheet. Peel off the protective layer from both sides. Use the painter's tape and completely cover both sides of the sheet. Using painter's tape will keep the sheet from splitting or cracking when you use the jigsaw and drill on it.

Step 3: Step 3: Draw Out Your Template

With the sheet completely covered in painter's tape, draw out your palette pattern with a pencil - including the holes for the fingers and thumb. Once your satisfied with the design, go over the pencil line with a black sharpie. This will come in real handy when you begin cutting, as the pencil will be too light to see.

Step 4: Step 4: Cutting Time

With your design final, it's time to cut.

First, insert the metal cutting blade into the jigsaw. We use the metal cutting blade because the teeth of the blade are small and close together giving the acrylic a nice smooth cut. If you were to use a regular wood blade, it would leave a jagged edge.

Next, use the two clamps to hold the acrylic sheet to your work table. I just used my kitchen table making sure that I wouldn't be cutting close to the actual table itself. You want to make sure it's secure and give yourself plenty of maneuvering room for the jigsaw.

Now, this is very important, you don't want to use your jigsaw and full speed. If you have one with variable speed - great! But I had a regular one, so I made sure that I never pressed the power button fully. You want to cut slow, steady, and a slower speed than normal. If you go at a faster speed, there's a chance that the heat generated will melt the plastic behind your cut.

Just take your time and complete each cut.

Note: It might be a good idea to wear some kind of face mask. The acrylic sheet is plastic, and when you cut it your jigsaw accumulates a lot of "dust"!

Step 5: Step 5: Cutting Your Holes

Once you have all of the outside panels cut off from the Acrylic Sheet, you use the step bit to start a hole where the fingers and thumb will go.

Put the step-bit on your drill and drill near the line you drew for your finger holes. I know in the picture, I did them in the middle, but later I drilled another set of holes that were inside the lines I drew. This makes it easier to cut them out with the jigsaw.

Just apply pressure to the drill while using the step-bit and make them as big as you feel you need to, just don't make any cuts or holes outside your drawn lines.

You may have to cut out the finger holes in small sections instead of trying to cut it all in one go. That's what I ended up having to do since the jigsaw couldn't make really tight turns that the shape demanded.

Step 6: Step 6: Remove Tape and Finishing

After you have you finger holes cut out, it's time to remove all the painter's tape.

I used a dremel tool with a sanding bit to smooth out the cuts I made for the finger holes - to give them a more rounder look. You don't have to have a dremel tool for this, you can use sandpaper.

After cleaning up the finger holes, I decided to give the entire surface - and the edges - a quick sanding. I used 220 grit sandpaper for this. Remember, this is plastic so you want to use some kind of covering over your mouth and nose when doing this. You don't want to inhale this stuff.

After giving a light sanding, I'd say it's pretty much done. I would've like to have given it a more rounder appearance, but right now I can live with it. The palette is extremely sturdy and feels good in the hand and stable on the arm. I can't wait to use it.

Note: I would recommend only using oil paints on this palette, since acrylic paints tend to dry really quickly. Oil paints can be wiped off easily. I guess you could use acrylics if you really wanted to, you'd just have to scrape them off when you done.

Hope you enjoyed my write-up. If you have questions or comments, please let me know.