BUILD AN ELEGANT EASEL
By IGMA Artisan, Michele Carter
Delta Ceramcoat Cinnamon acrylic craft paint (or your choice of wood stain)
Dremel Tool with sanding attachment
White Tacky Glue
Gluing jig (optional)
Nail sanding blocks, Emory Boards, or fine sandpaper
Miter box or hand cutter
Jewelry finding no larger than 1/4" in diameter
1/16" X 1/8" stock
3/16" square stock
1/8" square stock
1/4" corner molding or channel molding
2 laser cut brackets (no larger than 3/4" tall)
1/4" X 1/8" stock
1/4" X 1/16" stock
1/4" chair rail molding
3/16" chair rail molding
Metal cork-backed ruler
When I began painting in miniature, I was distressed by the difficulty of finding interesting easels on which to display my work at shows. So I decided to try making some of my own design. I have so many customers ask where I get my easels, I thought it might be nice to share this design.
- Using a miter saw or a hand-held cutter, cut each piece of stock or molding to the length shown in the diagrams. The diagrams have been drawn to scale, so double-check your cuts against them.
- Using a Dremel tool with a sander attachment, round off the top of the ends of both pieces of the Easel Base (Fig. 2). Then do the same with only one end of the Brace Base (Fig. 3). Next, using a hand-held cutter or an Exacto knife, trim the Back Vertical Brace to the angles (Fig. 5). Use the diagram as a guide for the angles. Round off the ends of the base of the Top Structure (Fig. 6).
Note: you might have to adjust the angles of the Back Vertical Brace once you start to assemble the easel in order to make it fit perfectly.
- Sand all pieces. Start with coarser grit and then finish with finer grit (150 or higher). Your pieces should be smooth, with no "hairs" along the edges.
- Stain all the wood pieces before you start to glue. The slightest drop of glue on the bare wood, and the stain will not take, leaving light spots. Allow parts to dry thoroughly before assembling.
If painting your easel, paint one coat on all of the pieces now, as it makes gluing quicker and easier. The easel pictured in this article was painted with Delta Ceramcoat Cinnamon acrylic craft paint.
- To assure your easel will be square, use a magnetic gluing jig or a right angle made from Lego blocks. The bottom and sides of the main structural pieces must be flush and straight when you glue them together, otherwise your easel will be crooked.
Take the two six-inch strips of 3/16" square stock (side rails), the three-inch length of 1/16" X 1/8" stock (spacer), and the quarter-inch length of 1/16" X 1/8" stock (spacer) and assemble (Fig. 1). Be sure that the side rails are EXACTLY the same height. Slight differences in height will cause the top structure to look unlevel. If needed, sand the longer of the two pieces until they are dead level with each other.
Lay the two side rails down flat on your workspace, and flush to the side and bottom of your gluing jig. Place the three-inch spacer with the 1/16" side facing out between the two rails, flush with the bottom and back. Place the quarter-inch spacer flush with the top of the two rails. The spacers will be recessed 1/16 of an inch from the face of the rails. Once everything is square and straight, glue the pieces together with white tacky glue. Glue the 3-inch piece of chair rail molding (Fig. 1a) on top of the two side rails, flush with the bottom, and centered on the face of the rails. Let dry.
- With a pencil, mark the center point of each piece of the Easel Base (Fig. 2). Stack the shorter piece on top of the longer piece, and align the center points. Make sure the base is straight, square, and centered, then glue together with tacky glue. Using the center point mark on the bottom base piece, attach the Brace Base perpendicular to, and centered on, the Easel Base (Fig. 4).
- Lay the two brackets flat on your worktable, and flush the two bottoms to your gluing jig. Glue together with tacky glue. Mark a center line on the base piece and align that mark with the glue joint on the two brackets, positioning the base along the bottom of the bracket. Make sure that the brackets and base lie flat on your worktable (Side View in Fig. 6).
- Set the Corner Molding piece down on your worktable so that the right angle faces away from you. (Side View diagram in Fig, 8). Take the 3/16" piece of chair rail molding and glue it to the face of the Corner Molding, flush to the worktable and aligned at the ends (Fig. 7. When the glue has dried, with an Exacto knife, trim off the top 1/16" of the Corner Molding so that it becomes flush with the top of the chair rail molding (Fig, 7). With your hand-cutter, cut a 45-degree angle on each end of the Frame Tray (Fig. 7). Sand the angle cut so that it is smooth.
- Lay your assembled Easel Rails flat on your work surface. Place the Top Structure at the top of the rails, centered over the rails. Make sure everything is straight, level, and flush, then glue together (Front View diagram in Fig. 8).
- Grind off the back "heel" of the easel side rails in order to make the finished easel cant backward about 5 degrees off of vertical. Use Dremel tool to carefully and slowly remove the heel (Side View in Fig. 1). Do not trim off too much at once. Better to make several passes to avoid making the angle too sharp. Stand the easel upright to "trial fit" the angle, or use Side View diagram in Fig. 8 to check the cant. Once you have the correct angle to the heel, trial fit the Back Vertical Brace to the easel. Position the side rails centered on the Easel Base, then place the Back Vertical Brace so that sharper angle is at the top and the shallower angle is on the base, as in the Side View of Fig. 8. To correct fit, sand one of the angles until the easel sits with the correct backward slant. Add a drop of cyanocrylate glue to each end of the Back Vertical Brace after you have applied the tacky glue. Hold the Back Brace against the easel, with the easel standing flat on your work surface until the glue has set, keeping it straight and plumb.
Tip: Spray glue joints with Zip-Kicker to make the glue set instantly.
- Glue the Frame Tray to the face of the easel. Position it where the decorative chair rail molding on the face of the easel ends, 3 inches up from the base. Use a drop of cyanocrylate glue with the tacky glue as you attach it to the frame. Keep the tray level, or the paintings displayed on the easel will look crooked. Wipe off any excess glue before it sets.
- For painted easels, give completed easel a final sanding with very fine sandpaper, then wipe off any dust with a damp paper towel. Stained easels do not need a final sanding before varnishing. Clean off any excess glue build up. Apply several coats of varnish, sanding lightly with fine-grit sandpaper between coats. When thoroughly dry, glue the jewelry finding to the top of the brackets (Fig. 6).
Michele Carter is an IGMA Artisan, and a professionally trained
artist. She and her husband, Dan Worsham are creative partners in
their business, PepperWood Miniatures, making high-quality,
collectible miniature floral arrangements, accessories, Tiffany
lamps, and original paintings. To see more of her work, visit
their website at www.pepperwoodminiatures.com.