Building Instructions for a French Style Easel

Written by michelle labbe | 13/05/2017
Building Instructions for a French Style Easel
French-style easels are sketchboxes mounted on three legs. (art easel image by Tammy Mobley from

A French-style easel is a convenient multipurpose tool for ambitious artists. It serves as a sketch box and a canvas carrier, as well as a free-standing easel. The design of a French-style easel includes a box where artists can store paints, brushes and other supplies, and the height adjusts to accommodate canvases of various sizes. They are more difficult to make at home than regular easels, but by simplifying the project a little, you can make a simple French-style sketchbox-mounted easel for use at home.

Assemble the sketchbox of the easel. Take the two plywood 44 by 33 inch pieces, the four 44-inch lumber pieces, and four of the 33-inch lumber pieces and make two open boxes by nailing the lumber around the perimeter of the plywood. Attach the two boxes together with the hinges on one short end to form a sketchbox that opens and closes. Install a latch onto the opening.

Assemble the legs using the three pieces of 40-inch long lumber. The legs should fit flush against the bottom of the sketchbox when arranged around either end like the legs of a tripod. Arrange the front legs on either side of the back end of the sketchbox, where the hinges are, and arrange the back leg on the opposite end, where the latch is. The distance between the two front legs should be 45 inches. Nail the legs in place onto the bottom of the sketchbox.

Bolt the remaining 33-inch piece of lumber horizontally across the bottom of the easel. This provides a support for your canvas.

Sand and finish the easel as desired.

Things you need

  • 3 pieces 1/2 by 3/4-inch lumber, 40 inches long
  • 2 pieces 44 by 33-inch plywood
  • 4 pieces 1/2 by 3/4-inch lumber 44 inches long
  • 5 pieces 1/2 by 3/4-inch lumber, 33 inches long
  • Galvanised stainless steel bolts
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Galvanised stainless steel nails
  • Stainless steel hinges
  • Measuring tape
  • Latch
  • Finish
  • Sandpaper

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