PLANS: adjustable shelf



The adjustable shelf is just that; it allows you to change the height at which the painting is supported; both to allow accomodate large supports, as well as to provide a comfortable painting height for sitting and standing.
fig. 1: shelf front angle

Admittedly, the shelf design is a potential weak spot in my design. It doesn't slide up and down as easily as I would like. Once you get the hang of it, it works. This is really the part that could benefit from some higher-end tools. If you look at easels in stores, you'll see the shelf design either utilizes wood cuts that you can't do by hand or specialized metal components. I will say one thing for my shelf, though--its is VERY sturdy. I figure with huge paintings, I also won't be raising and lowering all the time either. If someone has an improvement on this design that can be made with (or without) fancier tools, I'd be happy to include it here.

Others who have built this easel have tried various modifications of this shelf design. One person used joist hangers to support the shelf. Another put a slot in the main support and tightened the shelf into place, like I do with the rear supports. See the gallery for more on these modifications.


fig 2: shelf diagram (measurements)

The shelf is made up of two identical U-shaped pieces which attach to the shelf itself. The shelf is a simple a 4' 2x4. Each U piece wraps around the vertical outer pieces of the main support (see figure 3). The best way to measure up this piece is to lay the pieces up against your actual support and mark the pieces so they fit just right. However, my measurements should be close and give you a starting point. The idea is to make the center gap *just* the width of the main support piece, so that the U piece can slide firmly up and down the support.

The order to build this is to build each U-shaped piece first. Then, once you have those done, put them in place on the main support, lay the shelf on and try it out while holding the shelf and U-pieces together with your hand. If it's satisfactory, put a couple screws in each shelf while its actually in place (at his point, you have no other way to actually get the shelf on the thing).

fig 3: shelf support detail (rear)

fig 4: shelf (up)

The final piece of the shelf system is the shelf support rods. Each side of the shelf is locked into place by placing a 1/2" diameter dowel rod into a pre-drilled hole along the main support (see Fig. 4). The holes are drilled in the face of the main support and each hole is 2" apart, and centered horizontally. The holes are 1/2" in diameter. Drill them up as high as you want the shelf to go. This does hold the shelf very sturdily in place.

I borrowed a tool called a 'dowel-cutting jig' to drill the holes accurately. The jig is basically a clamp with a guide in it. You set the guide where you want (in this case, so that the center of the hole is in the center of the support), clamp it into place, and drill away. This helped me keep each hole nicely lined up. You could do this w/o, but if you can borrow one of these things, it makes it easier. They cost about $30 (too much for one use), but my dad had one in his basement he hadn't used in 30 years that worked perfectly (and the pricetag on the box was $6!).

Finally, cut a couple pieces of 1/2" dowel and slip them into place.

Proceed to the next step: top clamp ...