How to make your own Plein air easel


I can’t tell you how many videos I watched to find the perfect Plein air easel. I decided on the features I’d like for my own plein air easel. I definitely liked the idea of my palette being super close to my panel. I didn’t want to have to always look down to mix my colors as I had before, because the values won’t be as accurate as it would be at the same angle as my panel and the scene I’m painting.

I didn’t want to mess around with a shelf slider, so I decided on using bungie cords to hold my panel in place. Lucky for me, I had two braced panels in my studio, about to become a Pochade box! The tricky part was figuring out how to hold the lid open. Youtube is a great resource, there are so many people with great ideas!

I had a piece of glass cut to the size of the inside of the braced pane. I’ll use Velcro to hold my glass palette in place with a tab to remove the glass palette for cleaning.

Tools and Materials:

  • Router/ Jigsaw whichever is available to you.
  • A drill and drill bits and screw driver.
  • Brush for the stain/varnish
  • 2 braced panels, the size of those panels are up to you.
  • Sanding block
  • Wood stain, any colour of your choice. I chose espresso because I wanted a colour that wouldn’t compete with my painting.
  • 2 brass Hinges
  • 4 Wing nuts
  • 1 T-nut 5/16 x1/4″
  • 8 Washers, I used rubber
  • 2 side arm hinges. Once would probably work, I went with two, maybe its overkill, I wanted stability.
  • 4 small bungie cords
  • A piece of glass cut to the inside size of the braced panel.
  • Grey Neutral value 5 Acrylic paint.
  • Sponge brush.


  • Sand the panels and smooth off any rough edges.
  • With a pencil and a ruler, measure where you would like the slots be to keep your painting panel in place.
  • Use a router or a jigsaw to cut the slots before you stain.
  • Dust off the braced panels and stain or varnish, whichever you prefer. I stained mine an Espresso Mahogany. Allow to dry for a couple of days.
  • Once dry, apply wax with a soft cloth, an old t-shirt will work and wait twenty minutes and then polish the waxed panels with the same cloth.
  • Drill out the fittings on the arm hinge and disassemble the parts and re-assemble as shown in the image. I eded up using a combination of metal washers with the rubber plumbers washers. You could use a different hinge system if you like.
  • Install the hinges. You could recess them if you like.
  • Pre-drill the holes for the side arm hinge and install as shown.
  • With a metal drill bit, drill 4 holes in your tripod release plate and screw it to the panel.
  • Paint 3 coats on one side of your glass palette with an acrylic neutral grey.


Et Viola! You made your own Plein air easel you can attach to your tripod and take anywhere!

What I love about my plein air easel, I can move it anywhere in my studio. If it’s cloudy and dreary, I can move it closer to the window for more light. Next I’ll be making a shelf to attach to my tripod legs. I’ll be using this shelf for my brushes and medium and stuff. I’m also going to be making a paper towel holder. That will be in my next post! In the meantime, my painting panels have arrived and I’m going to be preparing to paint my first 5×7 panel for my daily painting challenge.

Hope you like the plein air easel, it’s not perfect and with a bit of tweaking and modifications, I’m sure you’ll be able to make one that suits your own needs.

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