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A Simple Project to Please Those Budding Artists his two-sided easel will bring your children hours of pleasure as they hone their artistic talents. It's a simple project that can be built in a weekend. Metal clips hold standard pads of 24-in. X 18-in. drawing paper, and there's a recessed shelf on each side to hold cravons and pencils. The legs are hinged, so the easel can be folded up for storage.

The joinery consists of screws, nuts and bolts — no glue is needed at all. To add a bit of challenge to this simple project, the crayon shelves are designed with a cove cut. which you can do on your tablesaw. But, you may choose to simplify this design feature— the cove can be replaced with a wide dado to hold crayons and paints, or you can eliminate the cove altogether. Likewise, the height of the legs can easily be altered depending upon the height of your children.

As with any simple project, you can greatly enhance its appearance through your selection of wood and finish. I elected to use oak and oak plywood with a reddish mahogany stain and a polyurethane finish.

Start With the Legs

Begin by ripping and crosscutting the legs to size on your tablesaw. The bottom of each leg needs to be cut at an angle. Set your sliding T-bevel to 78° with a protractor, and mark the bottom of each leg as shown in the drawing. Cut the legs with a handsaw, or set the miter gauge on your tablesaw to 78° to make the cuts.

The tops of the legs are rounded over. Adjust your compass for a '/j-in. radius, and scribe an arc on top of each leg. You can cut the arc with a jigsaw, scroll saw, or bandsaw. I found it quickest to knock off the corners with a handsaw, and then rotate the ends against a disc sander. This method sizes the arcs and sands them in one step.

At the center point of each arc, drill a 3/i<.-in. hole through each leg. Later, you will use these holes to bolt both sides of the easei together.

The drawing surfaces of the easel are made of '/-»-in. oak plywood. If you choose to cut the plywood to size on your tablesaw, remember that a normal circular blade will cause the plywood to tear out. Switch to a fine-toothed plywood blade, and the edges will come

The delighted faces of your children as they work on their masterpieces make this easel a worthwhile project.




Attach the legs with machine screws, nuts and washers, placing a '/«-in. spacer between the legs to allow for the thickness of the leg braces when closed.

Attach the legs with machine screws, nuts and washers, placing a '/«-in. spacer between the legs to allow for the thickness of the leg braces when closed.

together at one end. On the opposite end from fasten a 15-in. long, slotted strip of '/j-in. with wing nuts, washers, and bolts (Be sure to countersink the bolt heads). The slotted piece allows you to adjust the angle of the hinged boards. I made the slot with a '/j-in. straight router bit.

To set up your jig, clamp one side against the table-saw fence with C clamps. The hinged end should face away from you as shown. The left side of the jig functions as a rip fence, and you pass the wood over the blade at an angle, making a wide, arched cut. The tricky part comes in adjusting your jig for the right angle, taking care to cut your cove by making several light passes instead of one deep one. It's safest to raise your blade incrementally (Vi» to '/a in.) for each pass until you reach the final depth of 5/« in. Practice this cut on scrap wood until you feel comfortable.

Here's how to proceed. Cut your shelves to size, and draw the cove profile on the end of the stock as shown in the drawing. This profile will show the arc of the curve a 10-in. blade will make, its center point, and the ends of the arc '/a in. from each edge. With your tablesaw off. raise the blade to Vs in. Place the wood against the jig and the blade. Sight down the wood from behind. Adjust the position of your rip fence, and open or close the jig until the arc on the wood lines up with the blade.

Once your angle is set, lower the blade until it extends only '/* in. above the table. Now turn on the saw, and slowly run the wood through. Since the blade does not stick up above the top of the wood, you will not be able to use a saw guard, so be sure to use a push stick. Look at the small arc vou cut. Does the center tf line drawn on the end of your slock cross through the middle of this arc as the photo shows? If not, readjust the fence.

When you've centered the cut, continue to make slow, small cuts until you reach the full Va-in. depth of the cove. It's very important to listen to the sound that out looking great. Sand the edges smooth since they will remain exposed on the easel.

Build a Cove Jig

Now you're readv to make the cravon shelves with their eye-catching coves. Before you tackle the cove cut. make a simple jig as shown in Fig. 2. This handy jig can be used for a multitude of other purposes, including making tapered legs.

The jig consists of two boards—approximately the same length and height as your tablesaw fence —

This simple jig enables you to cut coves on your tablesaw by angling stock across the blade.

height of tablesaw fence


jig angle.

height of tablesaw fence


jig angle.

Mark off the cove arc on the end of the shelf stock, and make repeated light cuts, raising the blade each time until you reach the V* -in. cove depth.

your saw is making, and don't strain it. The angle and width of the cut put extra stress on your motor, which can be minimized by making shallow cuts. When you're finished, sand the cove smooth.

Assemble the Pieces

At this point, you're ready to assemble the easel. I suggest staining and finishing all the pieces before assembly. This allows you to finish the plywood backs while they are lying flat, thus avoiding drip marks.

To assemble the backs to their respective legs, line up the plywood backs 2 in. below the tops of the legs. Remember to keep the long edge of each leg facing the outside (against the backs). Beginning lh in. from the top of each side, mark a screw position every 6 in. down the sides for a total of five screws on each side. Drill pilot holes and countersink for the heads, then screw the backs to the legs with 1-in. #8 brass, flat head wood screws.

To attach the shelves, position the shelves along the bottom edge of each plywood back, and drill pilot holes through the legs from behind, through the backs and into the shelves—one per leg. Take care that the holes go into the shelves below the coves. Each shelf gets two 3-in. #10 brass, flat head wood screws. Add two more 1-in. screws through the plywood back into each shelf.

Next, attach the clips that hold the art pads. I used four 3-in. ball-bearing clips (available from All About Offices. 1312 W. Idaho St.. Boise. ID 83702), but you can use standard (bulldog) art-pad clips from any local office-supply store. Drill two '/-»-in. holes through the top of each back. 1 in. from the top and 57: in. from each side edge. Secure a clip to each hole with a '/4-in. dia.x Vz-in. brass, round head machine screw, washer and nut.

Now you can stand the two sides up and join them together at the top with 2,/2-in. #8 brass, round head machine screws and nuts. Because the leg braces are V« in. thick when closed, you'll need to place a V*-in. spacer between the legs on each side where they meet at the top as shown. I chose to cut two pieces of Vs-in. dia. copper tubing to size, since it matches the color of the brass fairly well. If you prefer, you could stack up brass washers and accomplish the same thing.

Screw the leg braces (Stanley #49-6640 table-leg braces, available from Hardware Sales & Service, Inc., 1961 Commerce Ave., Boise, ID 83705) onto the legs at the approximate height of the shelves. Mark the screw positions while the easel and braces are in the closed position. The two halves of the brace are different lengths. Because of this difference in lengths, the braces will not be perfectly horizontal when the easel is open.

That's it. You're ready to give it to your children. Their happy chatter as they draw and paint on this easel will betray how grateful they are. Your only problem will be finding enough space on your refrigerator to hold all their masterpieces! A

David Donnelly is a professional writer and video producer. He has l>een working with wood for five wars. He is the president of the Boise Metro Woodworker's Guild and has a cockatoo named Peaches.

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