Counter Weighted Studio Easel

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Project by Charlie posted 09-05-2013 10:03 PM 8380 views 6 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just finished building this counter weighted studio easel. I blogged the details here.

Essentially this is a frame within a frame. The inner frame slides. The center rail is part of the inner frame and is where the top and bottom canvas supports are located. When painting on a large canvas, you can have the top of it near eye level or wherever is comfortable and by unlocking the inner frame you can easily slide the entire thing up so you can work near the bottom of the canvas at eye level. Travel is about 4 feet up and down. Requires some serious headroom to fully extend it up. :)
When completely collapsed it is 7 feet 2 inches tall. It will handle a canvas up to 6 feet tall. It is made of 90/50 cherry and trimmed in walnut. The pulleys in the counter weight system are rated at 400 pounds. A bit of overkill, but I liked them. It takes 22 and a half pounds of weight to counter balance the sliding frame and I can move it with one finger. It holds position without being locked so I feel like I have the counter weight pretty much spot on. The bottom canvas support has a simple tray projecting about 6 inches. Future tinkering might have me making a swing out “wing” for the tray so I have additional room to set brushes and other supplies.

This has been a fun project. When I was looking to BUY a new easel, one like this would have cost me about $1600. I have less than $200 into this and it took me about a week. A lot of that was looking at the plan and figuring out where I wanted to deviate.

Oh and the finish on this is simply BLO and Johnson’s Paste Wax. I’ll probably cry when I get paint on it, but that’s kind of inevitable and part of its job, so… it is what it is. :)

13 comments so far

View AandCstyle's profile


2950 posts in 2131 days

#1 posted 09-05-2013 10:11 PM

It looks great. Next you will have to put a canvas on it and take it for a test spin, so to speak.

-- Art

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2166 days

#2 posted 09-05-2013 10:52 PM


-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 3527 days

#3 posted 09-05-2013 10:54 PM

excellent work. this look as good and as functional than my expensive commercial easel (a hughes easel).

-- Yves

View Ken90712's profile


17539 posts in 3063 days

#4 posted 09-06-2013 08:43 AM

Wow what a great idea and well done. Its a work of art!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View hoss12992's profile


3989 posts in 1767 days

#5 posted 09-06-2013 09:54 AM

Great job, love the design of it.

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 2818 days

#6 posted 09-06-2013 03:06 PM

Great jumbo work there Charlie. Thanks for the blog as well

-- Back home. Fernando

View Bill_N's profile


235 posts in 2153 days

#7 posted 09-06-2013 08:46 PM


-- I have the Saw Dust Fever

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 4074 days

#8 posted 09-09-2013 06:10 PM

Charlie, great looking easel. I just made one for my wife. I like you saved a wad of money.

-- Billp

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2160 days

#9 posted 09-09-2013 06:44 PM


I modified the counter weight system. It now looks like this:

By moving the upper pulleys inward a little and constructing a weight box, I’ve pretty much eliminated the “pendulum effect” in the original design. This weight box is just pine so I could see how it worked. I’ll build a nicer one out of cherry when time allows. Oh and I also switched from nylon rope to plastic coated cable. I had some here from a dog run we no longer use, so…. works great. :)

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2050 days

#10 posted 09-10-2013 01:48 PM

Awesome idea and work on that super easel. I’m sure it will serve you well for a long time.

View woodrosin's profile


1 post in 1157 days

#11 posted 11-20-2014 09:33 PM

This looks great!

View ncwreckdiver's profile


4 posts in 985 days

#12 posted 05-13-2015 02:08 PM

Charlie, I came across your post when I was commissioned to build an easel by a colleague. Having never built one or even used one (I am not an artist) I wanted to use someone else’s plans. Based on your post I purchased the Cadmium Easel plans and made some modifications, some inspired by your project.

I built two of these, one for the co-worker who commissioned it and another for a wedding present for my nephew and his bride-to-be.

Thanks for posting! It helped me out a great deal.

-- Jon, Stallings, NC

View helluvawreck's profile


29760 posts in 2741 days

#13 posted 05-13-2015 02:12 PM

That is a great idea and you did a nice job in making it into a reality.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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