Wheelchair-friendly Easel

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Project by John1410 posted 05-26-2014 07:12 AM 2236 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In my volunteer work at a nursing home, I design and make many items in timber. No sharp tools are allowed in the home (potential that someone with dementia might use as an involuntary weapon, for example), so after making the item at home I dismantle it and take it in for the residents to re-assemble. It offers something for them to look forward to, gives them a sense of worth and, ultimately, provides an air of achievement.
One of the residents at the home is a woman with advancing Huntington’s, permanently in a wheelchair and with very limited physical capacity. She is still able to tell what she wants and the one thing that causes her the greatest difficulty is attempting to paint using a regular arts easel. Answer? Design and make her a wheelchair-friendly easel!
I won’t give measurements, just provide the photos and a few basic guidelines should any of you wish to use the basic concept for a friend or loved one.
To clear the arms of a large wheelchair, the legs need to be wider apart than normal. Difficulty then is that they will spread so far as to become a tripping hazard for others! The answer is bent legs. I cut angles at 15 degrees from two pieces of pine, laminated with some 3mm MDF. As a simple laminate, it provides greater strength than the 19mm thick pine alone.
Because the front frame stands perpendicular, this is less stable than a regular easel. As you will see, the three legs are pinned to a sheet of 12mm MDF. The front wheels of the wheelchair sit on the MDF and provide stability. (I added a suitably placed dowel to the back leg to locate a small sandbag, later, for when no wheelchair is holding it steady.

-- John1410

8 comments so far

View Hawaiilad's profile


3374 posts in 3796 days

#1 posted 05-26-2014 08:12 AM

What a wonderful idea. My wife is a paint artist and I can see where this design would be goo for her even with a regular chair…some times you just can’t get close enough with a regular chair on wheels

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View John1410's profile


10 posts in 2238 days

#2 posted 05-26-2014 08:28 AM

Larry, hope it’s helpful, mate. I’ve just corrected one error in the original report. I had 6mm MDF as a base board but in fact it was 12mm.

-- John1410

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30551 posts in 3113 days

#3 posted 05-26-2014 10:36 AM

Great idea.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30551 posts in 3113 days

#4 posted 05-26-2014 10:37 AM

Forgot, Welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View John1410's profile


10 posts in 2238 days

#5 posted 05-26-2014 12:13 PM

Cheers, Monte. Don’t know how often I’ll be on line but seems a good site.

-- John1410

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3067 days

#6 posted 05-26-2014 02:31 PM

Outstanding thinking and great cause. Thanks for sharing.

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

View hoss12992's profile


4171 posts in 2668 days

#7 posted 05-26-2014 07:05 PM

Im sure the folks at the nursing home will get lots of use out of it. Great job and welcome to LJ’s

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 3277 days

#8 posted 05-27-2014 12:39 PM

John, that’s a great build.

If you have any extra time for volunteering, you should contact an organisation called TADTAS ( – I’m sure they would welcome your talents.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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