Vertical Easel for Sign-Making

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Project by guitar1999 posted 10-04-2012 06:34 PM 2181 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My fiance does all kinds of crafty things for her Etsy shop, including making hand-painted signs. I recently bought her an opaque projector for her birthday so she can transfer her graphic designs onto the wood more easily. It turned out to be one of those presents that begets another present. As I watched her carefully balancing the wood for her signs against the wall on the back of a kitchen chair, I realized that she needed something to help her hold the signs vertically. I thought about it for a few weeks and came up with the idea for this project.

The base, the main vertical board, and the support braces are poplar and the easel blocks are made from some red oak and cherry scraps that I had left over. The oak and cherry were harvested on a friend’s farm in New Hampshire. The t-track and knobs were purchased from Rockler. The oak easel blocks have a cherry lip that holds the sign. The blocks will hold a sign 5/8” thick or more, but shims could be used to to hold smaller boards. Thicker signs are accommodated by rounded edges on easel blocks and loose holes for the t-track hardware. The loose holes in the blocks also allow for some adjustment of the horizontal level of the sign. The four foot track will allow a maximum sign height of about 3.5’. The large base leaves room for adding some additional mass if the weight of the sign makes the easel unsteady.

I decided to use this project to try a few things that I hadn’t done before. I hand cut a triple mortise and tenon joint to bring together the base and the vertical piece.

(Note that the long board is upside down in this picture)
It came out pretty well, except for some blowout on the bottom of the base.

I also tried my hand at adding some black walnut inlay banding to the braces that you can see in the fourth photo. I’m happy with how it came out and now I have the confidence to try this in some of my other projects.

Overall, I’m very happy with how this came out. This is one of the first “fine” woodworking projects that I attempted recently, as I’ve been busy doing more construction type projects since we bought our house a few years ago. There is no finish on this, as it was in use just about as soon as the glue was dry. The only thing I hope to add is a small brass bubble level or clinometer to the bottom block when I find the right one on ebay or in an antique shop.

Thanks for looking!

-- Jesse - Cape Cod, MA

3 comments so far

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19862 posts in 3189 days

#1 posted 10-04-2012 09:32 PM

She gets an easel, a mighty fine one at that. You get “brownie points” and also get to play & practice in the shop. That’s a win, win, win! Great job!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 3351 days

#2 posted 01-06-2013 10:32 PM

Nice job Jesse, especially at your 1st attempt at fine ww. Did you design the easel or was it from plans, either way, the craftsmanship is good. Randy is right, lots of points…

I did recognize those Rockler t tracks. I have 2 of them in my work bench. On this LJ site, type in the word unique in the search box to take a look at it if you wish.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View guitar1999's profile


15 posts in 2829 days

#3 posted 01-11-2013 07:12 PM

Thanks! The design is completely original and mostly off the cuff. I usually sit down with a notepad, and then sketch up for bigger projects, but this one sort of came together as I was working on it.

-- Jesse - Cape Cod, MA

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