How to assemble a wooden tripod easel

Updated April 17, 2017

An easel, or an artist's tripod is a stand used to hold a canvas while an artist creates his masterpiece. It can also be used to support artwork for display. Constructing your own easel is fairly easy. With a few pieces of lumber, some basic hardware and a few tools, you can build your own easel with ease.

Using your saw, cut the tops off the two 82" boards at a 15 degree angle.

Using a 3/8" drill bit, drill a hole through the centre of the 15 degree angle on the two boards you just cut.

Holding the 80" (back leg) board perpendicular to the ground, line up one of the side leg boards on the wide side, one inch from the top and flush with the angle. With the pencil, mark where the hole from the side leg is located on the back leg. Drill a 3/8" hole through the back leg where marked.

Line up the holes in all three legs with the angled boards flush with the wide side of the back leg board and thread the 3 ½" bolt through the holes. Place the washer and nut on the end of the threaded bolt and tighten. Do not over tighten bolt as legs must be able to move.

Adjust the back leg position to create the desired angle for the easel.

Measure up 38" from the side leg and mark the location. Repeat on the other side leg.

Drill a ¼" hole in the centre of the leg at the marked location. Repeat on the other side leg.

At the location of the holes just drilled, centre the 36" board up against the two side legs with the 1" side facing the legs.

Mark the 1" side of the 36" board where the two holes meet the board.

Drill through the board at the marked locations using the ¼" drill bit.

Attach the crossbar tray to the side legs using the 6" bolts. Thread the bolts through each set of holes with the bolt head on the tray side. Secure with butterfly nuts.

At the same height of the crossbar tray, drill a 3/8" hole through the back leg.

On the back side of the crossbar tray, locate the centre and attach the 1/2" eye screw by twisting it into the wood by hand.

Thread one end of the 18" piece of cord through the eye of the screw and tie off.

Make final adjustments of the legs to the desired spacing. Run the other end of the cord through the hole in the back leg and tie off, taking up any extra slack. Trim off excess cord.


You can adjust the height of your tripod by shortening or lengthening the leg boards accordingly. For example, if you are building the easel for a child, you would use shorter boards. The crossbar tray should be two to three inches above the waist of the artist for a comfortable height. You can tack a piece of plywood to the side legs above the crossbar tray if desired. This extra step will add in the stability of the easel and will also allow small canvases to be used without falling through the space between the side legs.

Things You'll Need

  • Parts
  • One 80" 2" x 1" board (back leg)
  • Two 82" 2" x 1" boards (side legs)
  • One 36" 3" x 1" board (cross bar)
  • One 3/8"" x 3 ½" bolt, washer, nut assembly
  • Two 1/4"x 6" bolts
  • Two 1/4" butterfly nuts
  • One piece 18" -- 1/4" gauge cord
  • One 1/2"eye screw with 3/8" eye
  • Tools
  • Saw (electric or hand)
  • Measuring tape
  • pencil
  • Drill with 3/8"and 1/4" drill bits
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