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H frame artist's easel plans

KevinLBS's picture

It seems like any message posted in this "plans" section is a sure sign no one will respond to you, but here goes.

I'd like to make a really nice H frame artists easel for my cousin in college. I know she doesn't have a good one, and I remember well what it was like to be a starving student!

I've seen this website with plans to build one:

but I'd like to do something a little nicer, and maybe more adjustable (aka complex). Something like this one:

Best University Easel

Are there any resources about this type of thing, or am I on my own? Just thought Id ask before I sneak into some art supply stores with my digital camera :)


drhamel's picture

(post #114678, reply #1 of 5)

KevinLBS's picture

(post #114678, reply #2 of 5)

Sorry Don, that's the same link in my message. It's a good easel but very simple.  I think I may be stuck making it though. Only one little paperback book on Amazon about making easels, and nothing else anywhere...

drhamel's picture

(post #114678, reply #3 of 5)

Sorry!  Overlooked the link.


jgaiennie's picture

(post #114678, reply #4 of 5)


Nice easel.  Your painter friend will definitely like that one if he/she's got the room for it.  Not easily stowed.

With a photo like that, you should be able to produce the plans/sketches you need.  Just dive in with confidence brother.  Set some overall dimensions.  Back into the rest.  You'll be fine.  If you still have too many reservations, I'll be happy to do it.  Give me a holler at

Oh, BTW - when it's all said and done, you'll find it would be significantly cheaper (if you value your time at, say... minimum wage) to buy the one that's mass produced and give it to your friend.  What's that easel sell for?  $450.00.  Maybe $600.00.  Lets see... $250.00 for material.  Some sales tax.  Sheesh... lots of planning.  Call all that $325, maybe more.  That leaves $125 to 275 for you to do the work.  Divide the average by $5.25.   - 38 hours.  I dunno Kevin - for a prototype?  I have no idea of what type of work you do, but that looks like a lot of easel for you in 38 hrs.  These numbers are all fresh out of thin air.  No real basis.

And then there's the pleasure of making it.  That's worth plenty.  This is a justifiable motive in my opinion.  I use this excuse a bunch.


Edit - there's a middle ground between this easel you've chosen, and not enough easel that would suit your friend beautifully.  I paint.  This easel has some features that are not necessary in my opinion.

Edited 2/7/2003 8:10:18 PM ET by jdg

MPHarper's picture

(post #114678, reply #5 of 5)


My wife is a professional artist and I have made her several easels over the past few years and I still haven't built one like the Best brand easels (one in your photo) because she doesn't want one, here's why.

It's too pretty artists get paint, turpenoid, and all sorts of other things on their easels, after the first two paintings it wouldn't look very pretty any more.

Too many frills.  She doesn't like all the moving parts.  They either break or get gooped up with paint over time and don't work any more and then the easel is useless.  The only moving part it really needs to provide all the movement an artist needs would be a shelf  (part the painting sits on) that slides up and down and that can be done very simply.

 The features my wife really like in an easel are:  a rock solid easel that won't wobble, roll, or fall over when she pushes/paints on it. 

The ability to hold both large and small canvases to paint on in a way that they won't slip.

Hooks to hang rags on, a basket to keep misc. item in (both out of the way of course).

And finally, an almost vertical angle.  I use a 5 degree angle from vertical for her easels.

I build her easels to the following overall dimensions:

24" wide, 78" tall, and 20" deep at the base.  The face of the easel leans back at 5 degrees from vertical.  The "H" frame is similar to the one shown in your picture but I use 2x material to build an easel.  The added weight make sure it won't wobble even with a very large canvas (6' x 4') on the easel.  I build a small little panel/easel that sits on the shelf to put small canvases on and can screw 72" 1x3 boards to the easel for very large canvases.

One last trick, since it is so big and heavy I use only screws to hold the base to the upright portion so I can easily take them apart and move the easel anywhere she wants it.  It may be ugly but its functional.

I hope my novel hasn't gone on too long and I recommend that you dive in and build your friend and easel.  You won't regret it, and remember, sometimes simple is better (and can be prettier too).


P.S. If you want any more help or info email me