An Easel, being a necessary utility for any current or aspiring painter, creates much needed support and convenience for the act of canvas painting. They can be used to showcase completed paintings and pictures. Easels can, however, be quite pricey and lack the personability, customizability, or transportability for painters. The solution I give is the Universal Tripod Compatible Easel. It can be made with the cheapest parts lying around or more expensive ones. As a proof of concept, I did not pay a cent for this project. I used old paint, wood, glue, and nails left over from various projects and the results are still pleasingly aesthetic. The wood itself was left over from a string barrier left from when my driveway was paved and the rest came from old wood floor trimmings! All- in- all, this easel will ensure the best painting quality for your canvas masterworks or simple children's paintings.
While working on this project, I realized that I probably was not the first to think of something like this. And this is true! In our Instructable community our fellow Alansartlong had created a design specifically for his tripod (https://www.instructables.com/id/Camera-Tripod-to-Art-Easel/). While my design does almost differ entirely from Alan’s and will fit universally with any tripod mount at any needed scale, I felt like I should give a shoutout to another creative mind in the community with a similar idea to me.
With that being said, feel free to create your own additions such as collapsibility or aesthetics. I would love to see your designs!
Let’s Get Into it:
1- ¼-20 Bolt or Threaded Metal Insert (short)
NOTE: The standard tripod head mount size is ¼-20; however, some tripod base mounts are ⅜-16. Ensure that you have the right size bolt or threaded metal insert that can screw on the tripod mount. Also, know that some bolts and threaded metal inserts do not have to be exact. Check to see if any spare bolts fit onto your tripod (but make sure they are not too loose).
Any choice of wood finish or paint, and painting utensils for them, for easel aesthetics
Sandpaper (of different grits)
2-(at least 40x2x1/2 inch) Wood Planks
2-(at least 35x1x1/2 inch) Wood Planks, Beams, or Bolisters
1-Wood Block Thicker than the Bolt or Threaded Metal Insert
(Optional) 1-Wood Trim or Beam (no longer or thicker than 40x2x1/2 inch plank)
(Optional) Small Wood Blocks for Support
1-Utility Knife (exacto knife, boxcutter, etc.)
1-Protractor (you can print any from online as they are scalable)
1-Bottle of Wood Glue
1-Electric Wood Saw
1-Drill with Drill Bits
Various Sized Nails
Strong Wood Glue
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Measuring and Cutting Wood (Needed for Irregular Sized Wood)
Measure out the wood gathered to be able to set in a 4 piece easel
- There should be 2 sets of 2 planks. The 2 planks in each set should be the same size as displayed in the picture Use electric or normal wood saw to cut wood to desired lengths
Step 2: Planning and Marking
- Lay out wood in easel form
- Large planks form perpendicular upside down T
- Use a protractor to ensure that large planks are at right angles
- Mark center of horizontal plank as well as one inch from each end
- Mark 5 inches down from top of horizontal plank for reference
- Large planks form perpendicular upside down T
- Smaller supports attach diagonally to create a triangle
- Measure angles within triangle formed within to ensure they are the same on both sides. Record angles of these triangles. Personally, an equilateral triangle of 60 degrees helps with the process.
- Mark L and R for left and right for diagonals and V and H for vertical and horizontal planks
- Mark on wood where overlap will be to cut joints as seen in photos
- All the marks will be able to be sanded or painted away later
- Taking a picture will help guide you through the rest of the process
Step 3: Cutting Joints
- Use a writing utensil to mark sections to cut wood. This will ensure a perfect (or close to it) fit
- Remember you can cut it again if it doesn't fit
- Cut at the marks with electric wood saw using proper safety measures
Ensure that fits are snug and prepare wood block supports for potential weak spots (most times they are not needed)
Step 4: Drilling Universal Tripod Block
- Aquire woodblock and bolt
- Ensure that bolt can screw on to tripod
- Using a drill bit slightly bigger than the bolt or metal wood insert, drill hole into wood
- Bore around hole with drill until bolt or wood insert can fit snugly
- Either hammer or apply small amount of wood glue and insert bolt or metal wood insert
- NOTE: Do not get wood glue into hole of bolt or insert
Step 5: Sanding
- Using higher grit sandpaper, while gradually moving to lower grit, sand wood until smooth to your liking
Step 6: Painting! (What Project Would a Painter Do That Did Not Include Painting Itself!)
- Paint or use wood finish to make your easel to the design of your liking! Get creative. You can make your easel look worn and used or brand new! Melted wax or wood burning designs can also create interesting and fun easels.
- Keep track of what object is which
Step 7: Option 1: Glueing
NOTE: You can combine glueing and nailing for more sturdy build
- Using wood glue, glue tripod mount block on the center of plank base
- Before glueing, ensure that the block is in the center by balancing plank on top of it and marking as seen in photo
- Use clamps (with paper towels for soft wood) to clamp block to base for at least 30 minutes
- Starting with large planks, glue together and let dry for period specified on wood glue
- If possible, clamp together
- Wait for planks to dry
- Glue diagonals together
- Overlapping the wood can create a more stable easel
- Ensure that each piece is in correct position before glueing
- NOTE: Ensure that wood overlaps are not on front so a bump is not created, making it difficult to mount a canvas
- Expressing caution, lift your easel. If it feels flimsy, reapply glue, nail in addition to gluing, or glue small wood support blocks on the back to wood planks
- Let the easel set for an extra day to ensure glue dries completely
Step 8: Option 2: Nailing
- Prepare nails that are short enough to not pierce through wood or hit bolt in tripod mount
- Nail tripod mount block onto center of plank base
- Starting with large planks, nail together
- Nail diagonals together. You can use clamps to steady wood if working alone
- Overlapping the wood can create a more stable easel.
- NOTE: Use caution when hammering as to not split wood. Small easels such as these can be very delicate.
- NOTE: Ensure that wood overlaps do not create a bump large enough that will make it difficult to mount a canvas
- Expressing caution, lift your easel. If it feels flimsy, add nails or nail small wood support blocks on the back to wood planks
Step 9: Finishing Touches ( Aesthetics and Painting! (Again))
A painter’s project could always use more paint!
- You can use a small brush to paint intricate borders and paintings on your easel.
- Design and paint to your creative desires!
- Hint: You can even paint the tripod!
Step 10: Attach Easel to Your Tripod and Happy Painting!
Participated in the