You might not think so but an easel can be a useful addition to your living room. Justin Newcombe shows how.
How many times have you walked into your lounge and thought you needed an easel? Heaps? I know, me too. An easel is a practical contraption, used by artists and rugby coaches to hold a canvas, game plan or any other work in progress. (Perhaps the problem with the Blues is they're actually looking at a Pollock reproduction instead of a game plan).
Antique easels are used by some interior designers as an alternative way to display pictures usually found exclusively on a wall. If you want an antiqued versions of the one I'm building - the softer finish can add much needed life to the modern living area - check out my Anzac Day shoe box for some ideas on ageing a finish.
An easel is a good way to display coffee table books, rotate family portraits, art pieces or other curiosities you mightn't have room for in your on your wall. It could even be a fancy place to put your flat-screen TV. An easel is an alternative place for all that stuff the kids are always bringing home, saving your fridge from looking like a paper booby trap ready to go off every time you want to get the milk out. In my case I've got wooden floors and retro furniture so I wanted to go for a finish which was a little more contemporary, so I settled on "blonding" the timber.
"Blonding" is in fact washing the timber with a white stain which lightens it and accentuates the grain. This finish works well on most timbers. I've used dressed pine, mainly because Bunnings has it in convenient lengths which reduce the amount of preparation needed.
To make things easier I stained my timber before I started then touched up small areas where the timber was exposed at the end.
Draw a centre-line on your work surface to work from. The easel is a tripod made up of a front "A" frame section with a rear support. Set out the timbers to form the front leg "A" section using the centre-line as a guide. The top of the timber should be touching the centre-line, while the bottoms will be an even distance apart from the line.
Place the horizontal part of the "A" underneath the two leg sections. This piece will be attached on its edge rather than its face to form a shelf to sit the picture on.
Place a small block of timber under the top where the two legs join (this one contacts the legs on the face side of the timber). Use a pencil or a scribe to mark out all of the joins in the timbers.
Set the skill saw at half the thickness of the timber. My timber is 20mm thick so my skill saw is set at 10mm depth. Cut lines approximately 5mm apart inside the scribe's area. Clean the cut timber away to form a notch. Do this for all or the areas where the timber joins.
Using PVA, glue and screw the timber together. Be sure to pre-drill all the screw holes to stop the timber from splitting.
Assemble the top sliding section at the top of the easel. This section moves up and down and jams the picture on to the easel. I've used an off-cut of the easel timber at the front and a piece of 12mm ply for a backing. Clamp both pieces to a work surface and drill a hole for a bolt. Then attach to the top of the easel with the ply at the back, the off-cut at the front and the easel sandwiched in between.
Attach the hinge to the rear leg then attach the rear leg to the front. Attach a piece of string to join the shelf and the leg of the easel to stop it from collapsing when it is standing up.