Making a Simple Shelf Addition for Easel

Hi guys! This new attached mahl stick and extra easel shelf was so simple to make and has been such an invaluable addition to my studio since, I knew I had to drop by and post about it, and who knows it may help you make your own!.. To make things a little clearer I've made two separate posts for the shelf and attached mahl stick. This post focuses on the shelf.

The extra ledge/shelf made to hold my smaller art pieces higher up on my easel.

All together the new attached Mahl Stick and Added Shelf. I also added some wrought iron fixtures on the right side of my easel for easy access to my masking tape and tissue paper as I work..

As one who prefers standing at my easel so I can move back and around with ease, checking how my artworks look from afar and whatnot as I work, I needed a shelf that could be moved right up to eye level, so I could even paint tiny ACEO's at the easel if I wanted to. The shelf that my H-frame easel was built with would only move as high as my waist, perfect for one who only paints large paintings of at least 24 inches high, not so much if one creates works under 20 inches high as regularly as I do... I also wanted to be able to paint the bottom edges of my art-pieces with ease, so a narrow shelf was essential. 

Equipment Used
  • Handsaw
  • 2 G-Clamps (to hold wood while sawing)
  • Power drill
  • 1/2" Chisel
  • Sandpaper

Materials for Shelf Addition
  • 1"x 2" wood cut to 17" in length (a little less than the horizontal length of my easels frame)
  • Hand screw
  • tiny 0.2" screw (to screw in copper sheet over handscrew end)
  • 1.5" x 0.5" copper sheet (this is to protect the easel bar that the shelf will be screwed on to from being scratched)
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

My easel has an adjustable header that can be moved freely up and down the whole length of the easel, and be fastened in place where need be to hold artwork in place from the top. All I needed to do was copy how the header was grooved and was attached to the easels middle bar, to create the shelf I needed.

My easels adjustable header right side up.

The adjustable header (above) would still be used as usual with the new shelf, though this particular header has a thick edge that can cast quite a nasty shadow over the work underneath and also makes it difficult to paint the tops of my art-pieces.Thus I don't really use it, however it turned out to be quite useful for the mahl stick set up I was to add later - Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment

Making The Extra Shelf

  1. After sawing my 1"x 2" wood (they call it this but in actual fact the wood it only about 0.75" x 1.65") to the length needed=17", the exact shape of the grooves of the header were copied (drawn on the wood) as a guide for shelf's groove too. I don't know if you can see from the picture below but the side edges have a slight 60 degree angle to them, which is what holds it to the middle bar of the easel (which is also shaped to fit accordingly).

  2. Carving the back of the shelf addition exactly the same as the back of my easel header.

  3. In order to fasten the shelf in place on the easel bar, I needed a handscrew like the header, lucky for me I just so happened to have a few that I could use from an old broken portable easel of mine. They were much smaller, but that was a good thing as I would be able to place boards and such in front of the shelf without the handscrew being in the way, when not in use. The header also had a thin sheet of metal covering the end of the screw to protect the bar it would be attached to from scratches.. Below as you can see I cut a piece of copper as this protective sheet (luckily found a tiny screw to screw it in place) and drilled a hole for the handscrew once the wood had been carved to shape.

    All the materials needed: Metal handscrew, tiny 0.2" screw, copper sheet (already with hole in), already carved and drilled 1"x 2" wood.

    Here you can see the slight angle of the edges of the carved groove. The handscrew is screwed in thus and the copper sheet screwed over the top of its end to prevent the easel bar it will be attached to from being scratched.

  4. At this point, all the parts were screwed in together and the shelf slide onto the easels middle bar, just to test everything was in working order.

    The back of the shelf addition with the copper sheet already screwed in, just like the header

    Before applying a finish to my new easel additions, I just made sure everything worked perfectly when assembled completely

  5. It worked perfectly, so disassembling all the parts once again, the wood was given a good sanding with nice rounded edges and then was protected with a finish of thick cheap linseed oil which was just rubbed in with a rag.
  6. Once the finish was dry, it was ready to be put back together and slide on the easel ready to use!.. 

The new shelf in use for one of my tiny ACEO's (the ACEO is really very thin so I stuck it to a slightly larger stretched canvas which was, as you can see clamped between the new shelf and upside down header)

You can check out how the mahl stick set up was made by hopping on over to my next post Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment.


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