Make a Tabletop Easel from Metal Tubing

easel made from metal tubing

easel made from metal tubing

I needed an easel for an exhibition for our business poster and did not want to buy one. I looked online for instructions and ideas and found a good number to get main brain going. That’s when I realized that I already had most of the material in my garage. I decided to stick with metal tubing rather than wood. The reason is, that I once made an easel (much larger) with wood, but the legs kind of bent. This easel is made to hold a 17×22″ poster or larger.

So here is how I created the easel.

Materials

  • 3 pieces of metal tubing 1cm (3/8″) diameter) 92 cm (3 feet) long (( have no idea what kind of metal it is as it came from a shoe shelf)
  • 1m (3 feet) aluminum wire 6mm (1/4″) diameter (this gives you some to spare if you make a mistake. I have no idea where I got it from)
  • 2 metal washers 2cm (3/4″)
  • 10cm of 6mm (1/4″) clear plastic tubing or something that will fit over the aluminum wire. Cut 2 pieces that are 2cm (3/4″) long and 2 pieces that are 12mm (1/2″) long (I used this a spacers)
  • 38cm (15 inches) of 8mm (5/16″) pvc pipe or something that will fit over the aluminum wire and keep it stable. (I used a piece that was leftover from  some plumbing work)
  • 10cm (4 inches) plastic tubing that fits over the metal tubing or something that gives the bottom of the easel feet some grip
  • 2m (2yards) of thin wire or string
  • regular and round nose pliers
  • file to file down the sharp ends of the cut wire
  • ruler & pencil
  • drill and hammer
  • One small nail (for pilot hole) and one big nail that’s big enough to make a hole to feed the aluminum wire through

Instructions

Top of Easel

top of easel

top of easel

  1. Mark one end of all 3 pieces of metal tubing about 2.5cm (1 inch) from the end
  2. Make a hole on the mark. I found I had to first make an indentation with a small nail for the drill to stop slipping and as I was already hammering the nail in I just kept on going. Once I had the whole through the metal tubing I switched to the larger nail. With the nail you have to enlarge the initial hole from both sides. If you use an electric drill it makes a cleaner hole.
  3. Now thread the aluminum wire through the first tube, then add a 2cm (3/4″) piece plastic tubing, the next metal pipe, another 2cm (3/4″) piece plastic tubing and the third metal pipe straight from the coil.
  4. Use the round nose pliers and bend the end of the wire into an eye
  5. Now measure about 2.5cm (1 inch) on the metal wire past the last metal pipe and cut the wire.
  6. With round nose pliers bend the wire again into an eye

Front Legs – Bottom of Easel

  1. Make a hole into the  metal tubes about 8cm (3 inches) from the bottom on the front (follow instructions of point 2 above)
  2. Thread the aluminum wire from the back through the 1st tube
  3. Push a 12mm (1/2 inch) piece of clear plastic tubing over the wire
  4. Add one washer on top of the plastic pipe
  5. With round nose pliers bend the wire into an eye
  6. Pull wire tight against metal tubing and measure 2.5-3cm (1 inch) past the tubing and cut
  7. With round nose pliers bend the wire again into an eye
  8. Repeat on 3 metal tube, skip the middle tube for the time being
bottom front of easel leg

bottom front of easel leg

back easel leg

back easel leg

Back Leg – Bottom of Easel

  1. Middle metal tube take the aluminum wire and thread through the hole and bend the wire with round nose pliers into an eye
  2. Pull wire tight against metal tubing and measure 2.5-3cm (1 inch) past the tubing and cut
  3. With round nose pliers bend the wire again into an eye

Front Legs Spacer

I wanted an easel that I could transport easily, but that was also stable. So to keep the front legs of the easel apart I made a kind of closure that could be opened and closed.

  1. Push the aluminum wire through the pvc pipe or whatever you are using
  2. Make an eye at the end of the wire, but don’t close it fully
  3. Attach the eye to either the 1st or 3rd leg of easel (depends if you are right of left handed) and squeeze eye shut
  4. Cut wire about 2.cm (3/4 inch) past the end of the pvc pipe
  5. Bend wire at right angle just past the pvc pipe (this end now hooks into the eye on the backside of either the 1st or 3rd leg)

spacer attached to front leg

spacer attached to front leg

front leg spacer hooked in

front leg spacer hooked in

Back Leg Stabilizer

easel bottom - spacer and stabalizers

easel bottom - spacer and stabalizers

  • Measure 43cm (17 inches) of thin wire or string
  • Thread through the eye one front leg and eye of back leg (tighten so that the front and back leg are about 38cm (15 inches) apart
  • Repeat with other front leg

Rubber Bottom Leg Covers

foot - plastic tubing over metal tubing

foot - plastic tubing over metal tubing

  • Cut 3 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces of plastic tubing that fits over the metal tubing

To prevent the easel from moving I needed to find a way to cover the bottom of the 3 legs. Again I tried to use what I had at hand and some plastic tubing did the trick. At first I could not push it up over the metal legs. So I heated a cup of water to boiling, dropped the plastic tubing pieces into the boiling water for a couple of minutes and now it was easy to push them up over the metal. I left only about 5mm (1/4 inch) extended over the metal tube.

bottom of closed easel - flat

bottom of closed easel - flat

easel open - empty

easel open - empty

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