Build an Easel for Two

This simple easel project allows for two artists to create at the same time.

Young artists shouldn't have to compete for easel time or beg for more paper. To encourage the little Picassos in your home, consider building an easel designed to accommodate two children (or a student and a teacher) with a roll of paper that will generate yards of masterpieces.

Artists of all ages will enjoy working on this two-sided easel. The project requires few tools, a small quantity of wood and readily available hardware.

The roll holders are held in position with 1/4-in. dowels that are retained with screw eyes and string.

The braces are locked with a 1/4-in. dowel inserted in a through-hole.

The height of the easel is ideal for a standing child or a seated adult. When it's not in use, you can fold the easel for storage by removing the dowels from the braces (see drawing in the PDF below). Rolls of paper are available at most art supply stores and from mail-order art supplies vendors. Or if you prefer, you can adjust the retainers to fit a wide range of canvas or tablet paper sizes.

What's required
The only power tools you'll need are a jigsaw and a drill. However, if your shop is better equipped, the work will go faster. (A drill guide or drill press will help you drill holes more accurately.)

Use kiln-dried dimensional lumber (found at most home centers) for all the wood parts. This stock is used for trimming home interiors and is usually available in pine, poplar, birch and red oak. Be careful to choose straight, knot-free pieces and buy a little extra so you can make test pieces and replace parts if you make mistakes.

You'll find the necessary hardware at any home center or hardware store. If you can't find the exact size specified, simply choose a close substitute.

Before you do any assembly, you'll need to cut all parts to size. The parts, tools and hardware required are shown here.

Once you've glued and screwed the roll retainers (B) to the legs (A), use a Forstner bit to bore the 7/8-in.-dia. holes for the roll holders (I).

Use a jigsaw to cut the adjustment slots in the drawing boards for the roll retainers. Drill holes at each end of the slot to start and finish the cuts.

Constructions tips
Although this is a relatively easy project to make, a few tricks and techniques will make the work go more smoothly:

  • Cut all the parts to size before you do any assembly, and cut all like-size parts at the same time. Be sure to ease all sharp edges with sandpaper or a block plane.
  • Consider the drilling pattern (see drawing) for the shelves as a guide. You can lay out the holes to fit the paint jars or containers you have on hand. For example, I sized some of the holes to fit clear 35mm film containers.
  • To ensure the shelves are properly located, install them after the braces.
  • Avoid splitting the wood by boring pilot holes for all the screws before installing hardware.
  • As always, be sure to work carefully and wear appropriate safety gear (eye, ear and lung protection).

Fasten the drawing board to the legs with glue and 1-in. brads. Attach the retainers with bolts and wing nuts.

Temporarily clamp the two leg assemblies together and then screw the 5-in.-long hinges to the tops of the legs.

After attaching the braces (F, G) to the legs, fasten the shelves (E) to the legs with the 2-3/4-in. hinges.