Saturday, March 3, 2012

Build a Cheap, Quick and Easy Artist Easel

Build this easel for under $15!
 Easels are just three-legged stand but are expensive when buying the commercially manufactured one.

We bought this flimsy easel couple of years ago and for a while, it worked fine.
BUT I always have to make sure I don't put too much force or it will wiggle and mess up my painting. I also can't paint big canvas on this easel, it's not stable. I need sturdier easel but given the very expensive store bought easel prices, I had to design and built my own.

This easel can be built by virtually anybody who never built anything before who needs sturdy easel on a tight budget. I am designing this easel as I built it so the steps may seem out of order. I took a lot of photos so anybody can follow the steps (and don't have to read long worded instructions, I'm a visual learner and I hate reading manuals myself ha ha!)

How to Built an Artist Easel

Materials List:

(4) 1/4 - 20 X 3-1/2 carriage bolt
(4) flat washers
(4) 1/4 - 20 wing nut
22" chain link
(2) small eye bolt
wood glue

Cut List:

(2)  1 X 2 X 6' (front legs)
(1)  1 X 2 X 63" (back leg)
(1)  1 X 2 X 50" (middle vertical support)
(4)  1 X 2 X 36" (canvas plate )
(1)  1 X 2 X 27-1/2" (lower horizontal brace)
(1)  1 X 2 X 12-1/2" (upper horizontal brace)
(2)  1 X 2 X 2" (front legs and back leg connector pieces)


1. Prepare and cut boards using the Cut List above.           2. Position boards 7-1/2" on upper and 40" on                                                                                                               lower apart

3. Position the top brace 9" from top of legs, mark.        4. Trim excess sides. It should look like this.

5. Attach the 2"X2" pieces as shown.                        

6. Cut the top of the back leg a semi circle shape. Using 1/4 drill tip, drill holes on both piece. 

7. Align and insert bolt.


8. Shape the lower part of the back leg as shown for easy sliding.

the T- back or third back leg

9. Attach back leg to the front legs.                                                10. Attach the lower horizontal brace.

 11. Attach the chain links using eye bolts.

12. Drill holes and attach middle support .
add more holes if you want to add canvas clamp

13. Start assembling the canvas plate.            

14. Drill the other two horizontal piece for the bolts.

15. Check alignment using bolts. Detach.                               16. Finish the canvas plate.

17. Attach the canvas holder to the main part using the last horizontal piece.

bevel the front edge for neater look

Mark guides for easier leveling when adjusting the canvas holder.

18. Sand and wax and you're DONE!

I beveled the front legs to 10 degrees angle for better stability
the bought one and the built one

a lot more sturdy
the 50 bucks and the under 15 bucks easel
don't forget the final touch as this piece will last you a long time....
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  1. just made one great stuff thanks was easy too made it out of the slats from an old bed :)

  2. hey, liz, i just wanted to say thanks for the directions and specs, this was so helpful when i put together my easel this weekend. go DIYers. --chris

    1. steps were kind of out of order, I'm glad you were able to follow it ok,Chris

  3. Thanks a lot, Liz! Even though the lumberyard had the wrong wood in the 1 X 2 spot, I was able to make it work. I did glue the canvas plate together without putting the bolts in first. Don't do that, Gorilla glue is strong! I was able to pry it apart, put the bolts in and re-glue. Thanks again, I can't wait to use it!


  4. Hi Liz in you cut list do you add the following details: (2) 1 X 2 X 6' (front legs) but your back leg are: (1) 1 X 2 X 63" (back leg) Aren't the front legs supposed to be; 1 X 2 X 63" too?

    Please let me know

    Thank You

    1. Yes the back leg is shorter because you'll attach one end a bit lower from the top of the front legs( notice the picture):-)

    2. wait....the back one is shorter? so shouldn't it be 6' then and the front ones 6'3''?

    3. 6 feet is 72 inches. 63 inches is shorter

  5. How big is the Easel stand in cm?

  6. great and thanks. I am going to try it this weekend. Very clear instructions. Thanks

    Swami, India

  7. Thank you so much for this! I was getting discouraged with the price of easels and I found this. Picked up the supplies today and im well on my way (and ive never built anything before in my life). Great, easy to follow instructions.

  8. salamat....(filipino word for thanks)

  9. Great job indeed! But could you please use centimetres!

    1. thanks. next build, I will remember to add measurement in centimeter unit as well.

  10. great job liz, i got a question whats the length measurement starting at the lower horizontal brace down to the foot of the front leg? and also the length measurement of the upper horizontal brace to the top of the front leg?

  11. it looks like there is more than 4 carage bolts holding it to gather.....?

  12. Thank you so much for the easel plans will try my hand at this weekend

    Cynthia Brannon

  13. I'm in the middle of constructing this now. I have a couple questions though. How far up the legs its the horizontal brace? Also are the braces made out of 1x2? ThEy look bigger in the pic. And there seem to be a lot of holes. Are u sure we only need 4 bolts?

  14. Hey! This is so amazing! I love my 17 dollar easel. Thanks so much!

  15. Thanks fiance built me one and finished in with a red mahogany beautiful. ..I love it. He's going to do another one as soon as he gets the free time so we can paint together already have the supplies!!!

  16. Thanks for posting the plans. I made a few improvements. I used 1x3 for the top horizontal brace, as well as the center vertical piece is 1x3 with holes drilled every inch. Doesn't add weight, but it is now a little stronger.
    Thank you.

  17. for those used to the Metric system, you can look at a conversion table, ( maybe public Library/ or the internet) I have
    among all books a very small booklet with all conversion tables. also in some Calendars, there are very where seems to me.
    Just take a few minutes and you will find them. I am Spanish so that is why I know.
    We use metric system, which is very simple every thing is in.010/ convert 1 Inch, to Centimeters and so on..

  18. to Anonymous:
    front legs are 6 Ft. long that is 72 Inches 63 Inches is less than 72" no?
    hope that answer

  19. Are the legs 1"x2' or 1"x3"

  20. We used your plans to make the easel, with some minor modifications, for the display board at our weekly Farmer's Market. If you are ever out our way in Murrieta CA- we would love to give you some jam in appreciation. Thx again for the post.

  21. This summer, I built an easel from your plans (also with modifications). Total cost was $22.50. Thanks.

  22. Thanks for the plans! I ripped down a scrap 2x12 to build mine, results are here.

  23. Thanks for this easy plan,I used white pine and it came out beautifully followed the instructions and it came out perfect.added a little stain to match the furniture,how can cbc I send a pic.

  24. What is the distance from the bottom plate to the bottom of the front legs? I cannot locate any distance after going over the plates a number of times.

  25. Here is a photo of my easel from the Lazy Liz design -

  26. this is an awesome easel and I think much better than the commercial one. I will probably be trying my hand at making this. I wonder if I could simply adjust the measurements to make a table top version.

  27. building art easel please helpMarch 5, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    what wood did you use

  28. looks a bunch better than the bought one

  29. what kind of wax is used?

  30. Just made one on a Saturday morning. Have about 8 bucks into this project!

  31. I built this and it functions great, but wish you had given more instruction for the inept like me! Some parts were confusing with just imagery. I also didn't realize I needed screws or how long, added a wrinkle into it. Nevertheless it was cheap, fun, and looks good even though I did it very messily.


  32. I would appreciate some help with the canvas support the picture provided is not clear if 1x2 or 1x3 is used for the ledge of the shelf to support the canvas.

  33. Thanks! My friends and girlfriend think this is great! I used recycled hardwood leftover from the screens' frame in the background of this pic!

  34. Hi Liz, how far apart were the holes drilled?

  35. "asante sana", swahili words- means thanks a lot

  36. I’m really happy with how mine came out. We made it out of a really lovely cedar. My only alteration may be to cut the legs a little shorter since I sit as I paint and like to bring the canvas down lower. Thanks for this post!

  37. Hi Liz

    Marvelous Job. I made one for my daughter, its not the money factor its your personal touch and so happy that made one.

    It is like one day my daughter will remember that it has been made by my dad kind of stuff. Amazing work and the steps were easy to figure out.

    Once again thanks for the post.

    I Syed

  38. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. Easel Stand

  39. I have been looking for an easel for displays at art shows. I want a simple construction that is easy to carry yet sturdy. This plan looks like an easy build and would be perfect for this type of display. I am going to use this plan and finish it with a stain and a clear coat poly. Thank you for sharing

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