This a portable easel that I created for my brother. It is designed to pack tightly and neatly considering its size.
It is fairly inexpensive to make, especially if you already have some of the materials lying around. It only cost ~$15.00 for new materials.
The Easel will have a surface area of essentially 24' x 24' to ensure it is big enough to support most canvas sizes and store them internally. Also, it matched well with the dimensions of the wood I already had.
This design can be scaled down to your desired dimensions and still work.
I used Excel to parameterize my dimensions to update with changes and inform me how much material I would need. Doing something like this takes some time, but is nice to have.
Weighs ~11 Pounds.
Step 1: Consult CAD Files
I wanted to practice more with CAD and check my design ahead of time, so I modeled my Easel in SolidWorks ahead of time.
Attached are the CAD files in a zip file for your use. They can be changed to make adjustments for what you want or observed to ensure you have the measurements right.
The full assembly is called "Portable Easel".
The material choice for the CAD parts isn't meant to be correct. It is just meant match the look of the wood.
***Also attached now, updated CAD files with the addition of the holes drilled for the rope handle.
***Further, Attached is a 3D PDF file of the CAD model that can be viewed and measured using Adobe Acrobat Reader. When opening you will have to enable the file.
Step 2: Materials and Cost
Building this was relatively cheap and inexpensive. I was able to find some of the materials already at home and hopefully that is the case for you too. Some items, such as the rulers were discounted when I bought them, so that helped the price. The listed price in the pictures totals around $50.00, but I only spent about $15.00 since I already had most of these supplies.
A Bill of Materials is attached as well which describes the corresponding parts that they are made into.
Gather all the required materials and you are ready to move on.
Step 3: Tools Needed
Here are the tools that you will need before you get started.
Step 4: Sand Material
Before cutting the Side Walls, I'd recommend sanding the Pine Board and any other wood while it is still one piece.
Step 5: Cut Materials
This part is best done with two people to stay safe.
Cut the Pine Board and the Birch Plywood to the sizes noted in the Parts sheet using the Table Saw.
Then use the Miter Saw to cut each part to length.
Also, the Canvas Tray can be made from the left over Pine Board or any Scrap wood that you want. The only dimension that really matters in the thickness (0.75") to give enough room for the mounting holes detailed later.
Further, cut the 4 Support Rods and 2 Tray Rods during this step with a hacksaw.
Note: Sand any of the rough edges after you are finished cutting.
Pro Tip: to make the sizes consistent, it may be better to measure the first cut to the correct length and then size the other pieces to match it consistently.
Step 6: Place and Arrange
Now that you have cut the parts out, you can place and arrange them to ensure they line up well. There should be some flexibility for placement and orientation of the parts.
I'd suggest laying them as seen in the picture, for the top and bottom portions of the Easel. I'd then lay the panels on them to make sure they line up neatly at the edges.
If there are any issues you can still sand and make small cuts to fix any issues.
Step 7: Drill Side Wall Holes
For this step you will be working on the Top and Bottom Left/Right Walls with the Drill Press and the 5/8" drill bit.
The holes will be used to place pegs to support the Easel.
With this step you will limit the orientation of your boards, so choose carefully which side you decide to drill.
You will drill 11 holes into the outsider side of each of these parts at a depth of 0.25".
Space the holes 2" apart from each other, starting from either edge.
For the Top Left/Right Walls the holes need to be spaced 1" from either side.
For the Bottom Left/Right Walls the holes need to be spaced 1" from the top side which is 2" from the bottom side.
Step 8: Line Up Boards and Assemble
For this part you will first be nailing all the walls together for the top and bottom halves of the easel. Then nail the boards to the top and bottom halves.
Using clamps and having two people hold all the parts in place will help keep everything lined up.
You will use the longer nails for the sides and the shorter nails for the top/bottom boards. Spread the top/bottom ones out and make sure you don't nail into any of the longer nails on the side.
Step 9: Attach Hinges
For this step you will attach the hinges. There is no perfect distance, just make sure that they are aligned to keep the top and bottom halves flushed with each other when closed. Also make sure you don't screw into any of your nails.
Step 10: Create Side Supports
Here you will be creating the side supports that hold the top of the easel up.
The holes drilled into the rulers are both 1/2" from the ends and centered between the top and bottom. The holes are 5/8" inch like the other holes in this project.
Note: here I just used rulers. For the size of my easel it would have been neat to have something longer, but I could easily go back and change that later.
These can be stored in the easel when you carry it.
Step 11: Drill Tray Holes
Use the ruler from the previous step as a template for where to place the holes from the center of the top of the easel. The hole drilled will be 5/8", so make sure to place it in the middle of where the 3/4" wall is below and for the Canvas Tray.
Drill 1/2" into the canvas tray and 3/4" into the top half or until Canvas Tray lays flush on the top half.
Step 12: Drill Handle Holes
Now drill 4 holes in the end opposite of the hinges, each 3" away from the center axis and 1" away from the outer edge on each side. You can then loop rope trough the 4 holes in a number of different ways to securely hold the two halves together and as a handle to carry the easel.
Step 13: Finish
That's all. Enjoy using it! Let me know if you have any questions!
Also, here's a similar Instructable for an easel by RayP24 that was uploaded recently. A great instructable that should provide clarification on anything that wasn't clear in mine and provides some good alternative ideas too.