Yes, free! Scraps from my lumber cart. Yes, originally I did buy this stuff, but I didn't go out and specifically buy anything new for the easel build. Don't believe me? Read on. I couldn't've done this without the challenge...
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Step 1: HOW I BUILT AN ART EASEL FOR FREE
Steve Ramsey (Woodworking for Mere Mortals) issued a challenge to build something just using scraps from your lumber cart. Here is my EASEL.
I started with my intricately detailed plans.
I went through my lumber cart and found scrap 2 x 4s.
I trimmed one edge of each 2 x 4. Then ripped them into 1" strips.
Here's what I got. Fifteen pieces.
I set the height of the table saw blade to about 1/4 inch. SPOILER ALERT: This turned out to be unnecessary. A notch was not needed to hold the canvas in place.
Then notched out to hold the canvas in place.
Notched pieces for top and bottom canvas holders.
The notches were too tall so I trimmed them a bit and it wasn't until I started using the easel I found out notches weren't really necessary. MY MOTTO: I never encounter problems, I only create challenges!
I cut the top and bottom clamps to 19". The actual width of the easel will be 18". The extra inch was for the side extension of the paint tray. This will become clearer in a bit.
At this point I worked up a very intricate and detailed plan for the back stand.
Then I worked up a plan for the paint tray which actually turned out to be 7" x 7". So goes the best laid plans of mice and artist.
To the lumber cart for more scraps.
I found a piece of 1/2" plywood.
And a piece of 3/4" plywood.
It was at this point I changed the dimensions for the sides of the paint tray to 7" x 7".
Wifey was a bit upset when she saw what I used to make this curve.
I clamped the two sides together.
And cut out the curve.
The back, bottom and front pieces were cut from the 1/2" plywood and sized against the side pieces. This is a dry fit. I can't stress enough how important a dry fit is to any stage of your project.
The Kreg Pocket Hole Jig. Great tool.
Another dry fit. See that piece marked SPACER? and the line at the back of the side. This would form ears to guide the tray against the side supports. This will become clearer in a bit.
It was time to put the tray together.
Wax paper under any glue-up saves your workbench. And, yes, I glued and screwed it together. In fact, I used glue throughout in connection with the pocket screws. As a child of the 50s and 60s I never got over the wonderful aroma of this Elmer's type of glue. But then again, I like the smell of skunk. Go figure.
Glued and screwed.
As all of us DIYers know, you can never have enough clamps. Those extensions on the back are what guide the tray when moved up and down the easel's frame and keep it level.
Making the frame for the easel called for joining the scraps I used to make them longer. Of course, this entire easel can be built with full dimensional lumber purchased for the project. But this HOW TO was a challenge to not spend a cent.
Each piece was glued, screw and laid against a straight edge.
Now it was time to build the extension for the wing nuts to hold the top and bottom canvas supports.
Added a bit of flair to the design.
These two wing nuts were left over form a dog gate.
Checking the thickness for selecting a drill bit.
This was attached to the bottom of the paint tray.
Here is the top canvas clamp.
Now to build the frame. These are the frame cross braces ripped from the scrap 2 x 4s to 1/2" thick and cut to 18" long.
This is my intricately self-designed sanding station. Detailed plans for this are available for $19.99 plus shipping and handling. Bungee cord not included.
Installing cross braces. The jig kept them at 90 degrees.
Three braces used.
Both sides glued and screwed.
Ready for the runners for the tray and top canvas clamp.
Constructing the clamp guides. Notches are to fit the heads of the wing nuts.
Since I used scraps, had to lengthen these.
Rinse and repeat.
Two tracks. Then I sanded them to eliminate the saw marks.
Once again, used a straight edge to ensure straightness.
With the guides in place. Looking good so far.
Hmmmm.... This is way too short.
So I made it taller. The finished height was over six feet.
Now I was happy with the height. It could hold canvases up to 4' tall.
Back to the lumber cart. Scraps for the back stand.
I didn't find any hinges lying around so these will be for the back stand pivot points.
Marking where holes for dowels will be drilled.
Glued in dowels.
The back stand. I rounded the top for pivoting. I drilled holes a bit larger than the thickness of the dowels.
I attached the pivoting dowels. As you can see the back stand is not full height. I determined where to pivot from by testing until I was satisfied. Also, I was running low on scraps. But this height eventually proved to be absolutely perfect.
I added cross braces to the back stand. Without them, it would slip off the dowels.
This painting is 30" tall. You can see how much more room up and down there is. Now it was time to add some finishing touches. I used some cord to keep the back stand from opening too far.
I added a bar for holding paper towels purloined from the kitchen. Technically, I did pay for the paper towels, but I also paid for all of the used lumber at one point in time.
I built a palette from Masonite scrap.
I eventually discarded that small water container and used an empty jalapeño jar. I was very pleased with this and also with the original contents of the jar.
Out of a paper towel tube I built a paint brush holder.
And this brings me to the end of this HOW TO tutorial. I hope you enjoyed it.
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