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Build your own plein air easel.

This is a project that I have been looking forward to completing for some time now. I am very happy to have this finished and look forward to getting out and putting it to use.

The outside dimensions are 12 x 16 inches and it was built with 1/4 inch plywood with 3/4 inch ripped pieces of pine, but you could use hardwood as well.

The palette is plexi glass that I happened to have. I would like to change this to glass when this one gets too difficult to clean. Underneath I have a piece of linen toned to a neutral grey. Since I like to paint on toned grounds this allows me to mix on the colour/tone that I will be painting on.

I built this entire easel with scrap materials that were left over from other projects, including the stain and clear coat. The only thing I purchased for this was something called a t nut, which is what allows me to fasten the easel to a camera tripod.

The side hinge was the only piece of hardware I had difficulty in sourcing. So much so that I built my own using  two metal L brackets that I bent straight in a vice and with a hammer. Along with some washers, lock washers, two bolts, nuts and a wing nut to tighten and hold it in position, everything works perfectly.

The other aspect in this design that was difficult to decide on was how to keep the panel I would be painting on in place. I was considering fabricating my own hardware as I did with the side hinge until I came across Jim Serrett’s site Pochade Box Paintings. In his post on How to build your own Pochade Box , where he goes into great detail (and I highly recommend reviewing this post) he show’s how he used a small bungee cord through slots to hold the panel in place. I thought that was brilliant. It works great, it’s inexpensive, lightweight and you can tie a quick knot in it for smaller panels.  Many thanks to Jim Serrett.

I first saw this design at Open Box M and just loved it. If you are looking at purchasing a plein air easel instead of building your own I would take a look at the Open Box M site as well as another great easel design  at Alla Prima Pochade. They have a wonderful design as well.

Here are some more images of the easel to give you a better look at it and to help show you how it was built. If you have any questions about it feel free to post them or message me.

Happy Monday!

With an unfinished panel to show how it’s held in place.
and from the back, showing the bungee cord.
3/4 inch piece of plywood where the t nut is installed.

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