These easel plans and images are provided free-of-charge (but they may not be sold, modified or distributed in any form without my written consent). You may build this easel for your own personal use. I will be glad to send you (for free) a part's list, wood dimensions, and supplier information by return email if requested. Also, please don't be shy about emailing me if you have any questions concerning this design or have located any mistakes. I would also like to hear from you if you are successful! Follow the appropriate safety procedures and precautions when working with any wood-working equipment. Although there are only a few difficult cuts in this design, experience with wood-working tools is necessary. Finally, reasonable efforts have been made to design a reliable and safe easel, but the author cannot assume responsibility for the safeness of the design and for the consequence of its use.

I had several design requirements for my (reasonably priced) dream easel. First, I wanted the height of the canvas to be easily and quickly adjustable. Second, I wanted the material costs to be less than $250 (in 2005). Third, I wanted no special time-consuming wood joints (such as dovetail and mortise and tenon joints) in the design. Fourth, I wanted the easel to be (relatively) easy to disassemble and repair. Finally, I wanted an easel with a small cross-sectional base. The following easel met all of my requirements. It took me several days to build with the occasional assistance from my youngest son (who was then in the second grade). The easel shown is by no means the best or most optimal design.

The canvas sits on E, "clamped" on top by H, and lays against A. A rides on top of an aluminum U-shaped channel indicated by B. The base of the easel measures 26″ by 26″. When in its full vertical position, this easel will just fit in a standard 8 foot ceiling.

This is a counter-weight easel. This is one reason the canvas appears to "float" when in the easel and is so easy to move vertically. The weight of the canvas and part of its support structure is counter balanced by weight.

One end of a nylon rope is tied to A while the other end is connected to the counter-balancing weight. Although the actual "best" weight is a function of the size of the canvas, there is sufficient friction in the system that this weight generally does not have to be adjusted unless the canvas size or weight changes dramatically. The other weights shown along the base are used to bring the center of mass of the easel closer to the floor (i.e., help prevent the easel wheels from lifting off the floor).

Much of the weight of the front of the easel rests on the two standard door hinges shown. Originally, two adjustable locking breaks, indicated by P, were included. However, after building the easel, they were determined to be unnecessary (at least for my style of painting).

There are three dumbbell weight holders along the base of this easel. The center of the weights can be stacked around the dowels O. When the easel is leaning forward, more weight should be added to the back of the easel. When the easel is leaning backward, more weight should be added to the sides of the easel.

The two knobs, indicated by R, are used to adjust D and E, which comprise the lower shelf for the canvas. The two slots shown on A allow the lower shelf (and upper canvas clamp) to be moved along most of the length of A.

The knob S is used to keep the canvas stationary. When the counter weight is carefully adjusted, this knob usually does not need to be tightened. However, I usually use only one counter weight for most of my canvases. In this case, I need to loosen this knob when moving the canvas vertically and tighten this knob after it has been placed in the desired position.

This image shows the small notching required on the backside of E. The actual depth of this notch along A is a function of the amount of friction desired between the easel shelf E and the two side supports C. If this notch is too shallow, the shelf and, hence canvas, will rock to one side when pressure is applied to the canvas. If this notch is too deep, the shelf will be too difficult to move vertically. (This spacing can also be adjusted through the six blocks Y, but I think it is easier to adjust this one notch depth.)

The pulley G is clearly seen in this image. The nylon rope is tied (using a double-eight knot, commonly used by rock climbers) to the bolt shown through A. This bolt passes through Z, not seen in this image but discussed later, but not through B.

H and T comprise the upper clamp. As stated previously, this upper canvas clamp can be adjusted along most of the length of A through knobs U.

The counter weight is clearly seen in this figure. If the weight is too close to the floor, it will hit the floor when the canvas is high along the easel. This will prevent the easel from working properly. If the weights are too high, they will hit the pulley when the canvas is low along the easel. A little thought and try-and-error will determine the best medium canvas height position for this weight.

The only "sophisticated" joint is also shown in this image. The half-lap joint between L and M is used for all four corners of the base. These joints are then "tied in place" by two bolts per joint. With some careful thought and modifications, a less elegant straight overlap or butt-like "joint" could be used instead at each corner. Although I could have used a router (and jig) to cut out the material in L, I used my chop saw with the depth stop instead, carefully slicing out this material. I chisel could have also been used.

The angle of the canvas from vertical is changed by first loosening knobs X while keeping a firm grip on the front of the easel. Then the front of the easel is adjusted to the desired angle and these four knobs are tightened. The slots are only through the two boards J.

Compare the angle of the hinges W on the top side of boards I to the angle of the two hinges in the previous image on the bottom side of the two boards J.

The turnbuckle is shown passing through N and then B. (Actually, the end of the turnbuckle passing through N and B is not an eye hook but an ordinary bolt.) The nylon rope passes through the eye hook to keep the counter weight closer to the center of the easel's base.

One of the six spacer blocks, indicated by Y, is shown.

In six locations along the two C boards, it is necessary so recess the carriage bolts so that the lower movable shelf does collide with them.

Again, one of the six spacer blocks, indicated by Y, is shown.

For the pulley G that I purchased it was necessary to weld one end of it to keep if from turning. (Probably, it could have also been "cold" welded using an epoxy.) The pulley was attached to F by using a bolt, nut, and washer.

The back knob U is shown. When loosening or tightening these knobs, the back knob is held in place while the front knob is turned.

Probably, the connections between A and Z are the most critical in this easel design. This part of the easel was also the most time consuming and difficult to design. For smooth sliding of the canvas up and down, Z should run along the length of A. (Other methods were tried including T-bolts but without success.) These two boards are tied together at two locations using nuts and bolts. The friction between A and B is strongly a function of the number of turns of these nuts on these bolts.

The thread for knob S passes through a T-nut located on the lower side of Z. A nut is also used on both sides of Z. Standard hard furniture wax was used on B to increase the smoothness of the vertical adjustment.

The four casters shown allow the easel to be easily moved around on a flat surface. So that these wheels can rotate freely, four of the bolts passing through L were shortened with a hack saw.

This image clearly shows the profile of the aluminum channel B. The pulley must be sufficiently large so that the rope does not rub against this channel's edge. In this image, the easel was placed on its back so there was no tension on the rope.

Double-eight knots were used in several places as shown. The ends of the nylon rope were melted with a lighted match to keep them from fraying. The snap hook is opened and passed through the center of the weight to add or subtract dumbbells to this counter-balanced easel.