Children are natural artists. Give them a crayon or a marker, and they’re off – sometimes, unfortunately, on the walls, the floor, the fridge, or whatever surface they can get their hands on. Giving your children a spot of their own to explore their artistic side is the perfect way to encourage their creativity. Whether it’s painting on a roll of paper, drawing on the whiteboard, or playing school on the chalkboard, there are multitudes of ways children can engage with an easel.
There are a wide variety of easels for kids available for purchase, but if you have some basic DIY skills and access to a few tools – such as a miter saw, drill, nail gun, or hammer – it’s not very difficult to build an art easel for kids on your own. Knowing how to build an art easel can allow you to personalize it, and it’s also a great way to engage your own creativity and practice your DIY skills. Or it could become a wonderful family bonding activity to include your child in the process.
You can follow a few different methods when you want to make your art easel for kids. We’ll look at making two different easels, a straightforward version and the other a little more elaborate. Both are simple one-day projects that you can complete with basic DIY skills.
Method #1 is a straightforward A-frame easel, and it was originally designed around whatever scraps of wood the designer had in their workshop at the time. You can modify the lengths of wood as you wish, but try to keep the ratios of the various lengths the same.
A circular or table saw,
A miter saw, drill, screwdriver,
And a tape measure.
For the Easel Components:
Two boards measuring 1500 mm x 130 mm x 20 mm,
Two boards measuring 600 mm x 130 mm x 20 mm,
One board measuring 750 mm x 130 mm x 2 0mm,
2 door hinges,
And wax or oil for finishing the wood.
You’ll also need a whiteboard that measures at least as wide as the 600 mm crosspiece. Pine is the recommended wood because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to work with for a beginner.
Step 1: Cut your pieces of wood to the lengths mentioned above, and sand them down so they are nice and smooth.
Step 2: Once the pieces are cut to size, you’ll need to add holes to the legs, so you can adjust the easel’s height. The holes must be precisely the same distance apart, so the easiest way to do this is to stack the pieces of wood and drill them all simultaneously. To make this task easier, you can try bundling the pieces together and placing painter’s or masking tape around the pieces, so they don’t move around. Measure the width of the top piece of width, and mark a line down the center with your pencil. Using a tape measure, mark down 60 mm from one end for your first hole, and then mark every 100 mm. These will be your adjustment holes.
Step 3: Now you will assemble the pieces of the easel. Lay the two longer pieces next to each other and the crosspiece along the top. Check the measurements against the whiteboard – you will want the crosspiece to be slightly shorter than the whiteboard in vertical and landscape modes. The bottom cross piece should be mounted 800 mm from the top. Once you are satisfied with the size, use the drill to attach the two pieces.
Step 4: The next step is adding hinges. You can use any basic door hinges available at your local hardware store. Attach one side of the hinge to the top rail of the easel and the other side to the third and fourth easel legs.
Step 5: You can then take the chain and attach it to the bottom rails of the easel. This chain will keep the easel standing open at the correct angle.
Step 6: Now it is time to make the tray at the bottom, where you will prop your whiteboard. Take your 750 mm board and attach it using your drill to the bottom crosspiece of your easel. The last step is to give the whole thing a good buffing and a coat of wax or stain. Take the whiteboard you have purchased and prop it up on the tray – and there you have it!
Here’s a great video tutorial showing how to build this easel.
This method is slightly more labor-intensive but will give you an easel with more functions than the first method.
Two 1 x 1/4” flat trim pieces measuring 6 feet each,
One 1 x 8” board measuring 4 feet,
One 1 x 4” board measuring 4 feet,
And 1 x ¾” dowel measuring 24 inches long.
Step 1: The first step is to build the legs of the easel. The four 1 x 3” boards should be cut to 48”, with a 15-degree angle on each end so the easel will stand upright. Be sure that the cuts on opposite ends of the legs are parallel to each other. For example, the two front legs have a 15-degree angle going in the same direction and the same for the back legs. This angle allows the legs to stand flat against the floor when the easel is open.
Step 2: Next, you will be building the top plate, the piece that rests on top of the legs. For the top plate of your easel, the 1 x 4” board should be cut to 26” in length. Attach the legs to the top plate, so the outer edges of the legs are flush with the edges of the top plate. Use wood glue to secure the pieces, then use one of the various methods to attach the legs to the top plate – either the Kreg jig and pocket holes, wooden dowels, or simply use wood screws.
Step 3: The next step is to attach the whiteboard, chalkboard, and trim. Many big box stores sell a dual-sided 2’ x 4’ sheet of whiteboard and chalkboard combination, and you can purchase one, cut it in half, and have one board for each side. The trim in this design hides the board’s edges, connects the boards to the legs, and creates that clean finish. When connecting the top trim strip, leave a gap of about half an inch between the piece of trim and the top plate, as this design includes space for a roll of craft paper, which is where you will pull the paper through. Leave a one-inch gap between the edge of each leg and the top and bottom trim for the side trim pieces. Use wood glue and nails to secure the trim in place.
Step 4: Now it is time to build and attach the art supply tray. This is probably the most complicated part of building a kid’s art easel, so go slowly, take your time and make sure you hit every step. Take your four pieces of 1”x 3” and two 1” x 8” pieces of wood and cut them to 19.5” long.
Step 5: Use wood glue to attach the 1” x 3” pieces to the outer edges of the 1 x 8 pieces to create two trays, and then reinforce the glue with nails or screws. Set this part aside, and now take your two 26” side pieces and the 20” side supports.
Step 6: The 20” side support pieces will need a 15-degree cut on each end, but make sure they are not parallel to each other. Once all four of these side pieces are cut, use tape to position them in place – ensuring they are centered to each other – you can easily drill a ¾” hole through all four pieces at once, making it easy to line all of the holes up with each other. This hole is where you can insert a dowel to hold a roll of paper.
Step 7: Next, you will need to attach the two 26” pieces to the trays. There should be a tray on the top, the dowel in the middle, and another tray at the bottom. Use whatever method you used to attach the 1 x 3” pieces to the 1 x 8” pieces in the previous step – wood glue and either nails or wood screws. For the two 20” side support pieces, attach them in between the legs of the easel, once again using wood glue first followed by either nails or wood screws.
Step 8: Once you have your tray built and the side supports in place, take your ¾ inch dowel and insert it through the holes you drilled through the side support pieces in the previous step. When everything is in place, use wood glue to secure the sides of the tray to the side support pieces. Reinforce this with either wood screws or nails.
All that’s left to do is to add the finishing touches! Put in a roll of craft paper, and decorate your kid’s art easel any way you like – stain it, paint it, you can even get a stencil and add some fun designs or personalize it to your child’s taste.
Caitlin is a former teacher who has become a full-time mom to her three gorgeous children between 7 and 12. She has a Bachelor of Education from the University of New Brunswick and a Bachelor of Arts from Acadia University. Caitlin analyzes and reviews products from a mother and educator perspective. Her background enables her to point out the educational and developmental advantages of the products we list and any concerns or advice a mother would have.
Join the discussion