211 – The Young Artist’s Easel – Woodworkers Fighting Cancer 2013

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This year’s Woodworkers Fighting Cancer build is an awesome little artist’s easel. This is a simple project that can be easily done in a weekend!

This year, our goal is to raise $10,000 for CancerCare, a national nonprofit organization that provides free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer: people with cancer, caregivers, children, loved ones and the bereaved.

How You Can Help

You can either donate directly or simply make one of these Artist’s Easels. All you have to do is build the easel and send me a photo by December 9th, 2013. I will then donate $5 to CancerCare for each picture I receive (one per person, please). We also have many corporate sponsors who are donating $5 per submission. Submit your project here!

If you’d like more details on Woodworkers Fighting Cancer, our mission, our sponsors, and our history, head to the Woodworkers Fighting Cancer page.

How to Get Started

Download the Plan

Pretty much everything needed for this project can be purchased from your local Home Depot or other big box store.


(4) Legs: 3/4” T x 2” W x 44” L
(4) Rails: 3/4” T x 2” W x 28 1/4” L
(2) Cleats: 1/2” T x 1” W x 28 1/4” L
(2) Tray Sides: 1/2” T x 3” W x 27 5/8” L
(4) Tray Fronts/Backs: 1/2” T x 3” W x 28 13/16” L
(1) Chalk Board Panel: 22”W x 25”L
(1) Dry Erase Panel (Melamine): 22” W x 25” L
(2) Tray Bottoms: 1/4″ T x 4 1/2” W x 28 5/16” L (Plywood)
(1) 3/4″ Dowel Rod – 36” Long


(4) 1/4-20 threaded inserts
(4) 1 1/4” long decorative bolts
(4) #8 1” wood screw
(1) #8 1 1/4” wood screw
(2) 2” strap hinges
(8) #10 SAE washers


– 3/8” rabbeting bit
– 1/4” roundover bit
– 3/4” forstner bit
– Dado stack

A huge heartfelt thank you to all who participate in this year’s charity event!

Category: Projects


  1. Marc;
    Congratulations for motivating us to make the world a better place. What a great community … feeling warm and fuzzy as well.
    Count me in.

  2. Coly Hrap! I think I might have all the tooling (except for the dado stack and flame-optional base) for this build…

    Definitely sign me up this year. Quick question, though. Why not a washer on the toggle that holds the roll in place? (Now I just need to create the time to create the build. Think you could call my professors and get me out of class one day next week?)


      You can certainly include a washer there if you want. The hole in the turnbutton is big enough that the whole thing can rotate without moving the screw. So it’s pretty stable as-is.

      And sure, I’ll talk to your professors. They have to realize how important woodworking is! :)

  3. Lone_Wolf November 4, 2013


    Another good video and a great cause. Keep up the good work…

  4. Great project. One question. Is there any reason the rabbet for the panel couldn’t be made from the back at least for the none paper side. That way if the gap is not exactly the same all the way around or if the corners aren’t perfect you won’t see it. On the paper side it looks like the strips hide the corners.


      You can certainly do that. I think the only issue is the fact that there’s nothing holding the panel in place but glue. So gravity and hand pressure is always working against you. I think if you reinforce the panel with some shop-made clips around the perimeter, that certainly might help.

      • Good point. And I guess any clips could interfere with it folding flat for storage.


          Yeah didn’t think of that, but you’re right. Frankly, if the corners are an issue, just make cleats for both sides. I already found that Mateo likes to have the paper on BOTH sides, haha.

      • Jeff Roussel November 7, 2013

        I am going to try to build at least one. Is there a reason other than the chalk dust not to use a grove to hold the panels?


      • dklinkefus November 30, 2013

        I used glazing points for glass to hold the panels in each side.
        Seemed to work OK.

        Dave K.

  5. James November 4, 2013

    I can attest to how easy these are to build. And, how durable they are. My oldest son had 5 other Scouts ages 11 – 14 build 5 of these for our church as part of his Eagle Project. Of course I had (got) to run the saw and router but they assembled and finished all of them in a weekend day. That was in 2006 and they are still in use every Sunday.

  6. Jason November 4, 2013

    Does the kit contain everything in the materials section except the panels? I assume it does not contain anything in the “hardware” section.


      The kits are just for the solid wood. From Bell’s site: “Enough kiln-dried lumber to build one easel (approx: 15 board feet). The kit includes several boards, planed smooth on both faces with one straight edge (ready for a table saw.) You will receive enough material to cut out all major components (legs, rails, cleats, ends, and front/back.) You will also receive a hardwood dowel that is 3/4″ x 32″ to use as the rod.”

  7. Marc- excited to start building this weekend! I’m going to go with my favorite – maple – hopefully can find some nicely figured pieces.

    The video makes it look way too easy! I’ll have to find some way to overcomplicate the process so I have an excuse for my ever present mistakes….Rusty

  8. Mark Loughran November 5, 2013

    Well done Marc!!! Awesome project!!!!

  9. Tim Walsh November 7, 2013

    Is there a good source for the chalk Board Panel and the Dry Erase Panel ?

    • Matt November 7, 2013

      Marc said he got them from Home Depot

    • I was considering using the paints to make the chalkboard and magnetic/dry erase board myself, just using regular 1/4 hardboard or ply.

    • dklinkefus November 30, 2013

      I got both the chalk board and white board panels at Home Depot.
      They come in 2’x4′ panels – enough to do 2 easels!

      Dave K.

  10. Mark November 8, 2013

    The plans call for a 36″ dowel, but on Bell Forest, they say they’ll include a 32″ dowel. Any idea which one is required, or does the 36″ dowel get cut down to 32″?

  11. John November 8, 2013

    I got injured and missed out on last years build. However, I’m in for this year! Already downloaded the plans and will be heading to the lumber yard this week end.

    Looks like another fun build for a great cause!

  12. Earl Wojo November 11, 2013

    I am having a difficult time finding the 1 1/4″ bolts. I have checked with Rockler, McFeely’s and Woodworkers Supply and am coming up empty. Appreciate any help with a source for these bolts.



  13. steve taggart November 11, 2013

    If I build one out of logs instead of lumber will it still be accepted?

  14. Marc,

    It looks like the white boards from the big box store is “on line” purchase only.
    I’ll find out more tomorrow when I get the hardware.

    Best Regards,


  15. Chuck November 14, 2013

    So I’m not used to building things like this can I use 2x? I have a bunch in my garage left over from building my daughters bed. I also don’t have many tools only a battery powered drill, skill saw, hand saw, jig saw, orbit sander, and regular hand tools. I’m new in to wood building!

  16. Steve Jaynes November 17, 2013


    Many of the threaded inserts, like the ones you drove into the Easel Project actually have the ears/lugs arranged in a spiral. You can insert a stubby screw into the insert (or a long screw if they are in a through-hole application) and then use that screw to drive them into the project. I have some on hand that have a hex-drive recess in the insert that allows them to driven into the hole using an Allen wrench. Then the rest of the hole has the standard threads, often 1/4″x20.

    Screwing them in:
    A) Eliminates a tendency of splitting, especially if the receiving hole has a slightly snug clearance hole.
    B) Prevents the inserts from pulling out under tension.

    There are inserts that have obvious external threads and often have a slot in the top to facilitate driving them into the project. However, the ones with the segmented “ears/lugs” aren’t so obvious that they are designed to be screwed in vs. driven in. It is NOT clear from the video if the inserts you used have the lugs/ears in a spiral pattern or not. I checked out both the “materials” and the “installation” video segments and just couldn’t quite tell for sure.

    Try screwing the ones you used into a hole. I’m curious…


      I had some really bad experiences with screw-in type inserts. I was using Bubinga at the time, which was part of the problem. But this Mayan Walnut was pretty dense and brittle so I decided the tap-in style would be the simpler choice.

    • Jay November 26, 2013

      If you’re concerned out it pulling out, then just put a couple dabs of epoxy on the spikes. I drove it into a plywood edge and that’s even holding onto it well after driving in the bolt with a drill.

  17. Chet Seymour November 19, 2013

    That was a beautiful video. You have a really cute family there. My little guy is about the same age, 3. Your video almost made me cry. Yeah, I’m like that. Anyhow, I have roughly 2 million projects in my shop right now and a ton of travel for my real job coming up, but I’m going to do all I can to get one of these built.

    Great job, great cause, great video.

  18. John November 21, 2013


    I have one about half finished and I was asked to make it with the trays being permanent rather than removable. Is it OK to modify it so the trays are attached to the frame rather than as a separate piece?

  19. Bob D. November 21, 2013

    I will do an Young Artist’s Easel and send a picture prior December 9th. Unfortunatly I live too far from Bell Forest (N-E Can) to order the kit from them. I also have difficulties to find the threaded insert, chalkboard and white board. I may have to adapt the way I will secure the tray and use paint instead. I hope the paint to be durable enough for the use of kids.

    Marc, Does an image of an almost completed project will be accepted?

    I will then donate the Easel to a local Christmas charity for an auction.

    Bob D.

  20. Hi Marc submitted my completed project a hour ago. good cause was enjoyable ,ty . Peter

  21. Beechwood Chip November 23, 2013

    For rounding the corners of the white/chalk boards to fir the rabbets, you say, “using a template make it easy”. But how do you make the template? The only thing I could think of was to use a flush trim bit to follow the rabbet and cut the template. Is there an easier way?

    My wood has arrived from Bell Forest, and I’m planning to build this over the T’giving weekend.

    • Not a direct answer for what you are asking, but I used this as a good time to practice my chisel work at each corner ;-)

    • Jay November 26, 2013

      Just take your time to make the template with a sanding block and keep test fitting. It’s easier than you think it is to get a perfect fit. Once you have the template, it’s super easy to just sand to the line on the actual work piece. I made 3 easels and it’s actually the easier part of the project.

  22. My submission is in as well, thanks Marc for the opportunity to make a difference. My friend is checking out CancerCare as we speak! Thanks to Steve as well for his expedient method ;-)

  23. Marc,

    In the plans they show a method to shape the corners of the white board but did not mention the size of the router bit. Any ideas?


  24. Marc,
    This was a fun build. Thanks for all your hard work on this project! I know it has to eat up a lot of your time. Looking forward to next years build!

  25. Mike Binder December 1, 2013

    For making the corners of the panels fit perfectly, I found that using the technique in the plan (routing the panel up on end with a backer board) with a 3/4″ round over bit makes the corners fit PERFECT. I have a Woodriver rabbeting bit, so check your rabbeting bit’s full radius to make sure this will work before you do it. The technique is described in page 8 of the plans.

    I tried doing it the way Marc suggested, with the band saw and sanding, but with corners that show as much as these do, the router table method is much cleaner.

  26. Hi Marc

    Great cause… I’ve built and submitted but I do not know if you.be received and accepted.

    I had a great time making this for my 2 year old daughter. She loves it. I DID go a simple route ala Steve Ramsey and Kreg’d it out of pallet wood (everyone gasps) but I’m a novice so I figured something is better than nothing.

    Any whoha… I’m glad you are doing this and I’m glad to have been a part of it even if only as you being inspirational to me to go out and cut some wood.

    Best wishes!!! Raise money!!!


      Hi Clay. If you saw the angry cat picture, then the submission worked. If you didn’t, it didn’t.

      Thanks for participating in the build my friend! I hope your daughter continues to enjoy the easel!

  27. phil December 5, 2013


    the link to Bell Forest end up in a 404 :(
    Any special reason why since the 9th of december is still a bit to go …


  28. John December 5, 2013

    I completed my Easel,today and tried to submit the required four images, but your site is saying they are too,large. I cropped the,pictures and resubmitted and still no luck. Having to,log in repeatedly and figuring out the damn capwiz code is taking some of the fun out of this project. Any help or ideas…


      You only need to submit one image. And concerning the size, we are referring to the file size. Cropping won’t necessarily trim the file size down enough so you’ll want to resize the image to something like 800 x 600. Once you do that, the image file size should be around 100-200kb at most. All that said, I will email you directly to bypass the form.

  29. Alvin December 6, 2013

    Hi, Marc. I just recently found your podcast and site. Very good. I see that you have asked Bell that their site for the project is down. But I’m obviously missing something as I don’t even see the link for the kit. Is the kit still available?


      The kits are no longer available since we are too close to the deadline. Sorry about that Alvin.

      • Alvin December 6, 2013

        Thanks for the reply, Marc. However, I was also hoping to use the kit to build my granddaughter an easel. I wasn’t aware that the kit was only for the donations.

  30. Steve December 7, 2013

    I submitted the photos today of my completed Child’s Art Easel. This is a project that I hope my grandson will enjoy as much as I enjoyed building it. Marc thanks for your efforts to bring this to us in your great teaching and fun video fashion and for your work to make this charity a success.

  31. John December 8, 2013


    I got mine all finished today, but need to let the shellac fully dry before assembly. Will submit photo on Monday 9 Dec 2013.

  32. Miguel Sosa December 8, 2013

    Mark I am building four of these with reclaimed lumber as gifts. I will hopefully be done with them by the deadline. This is the first time I have participated in something like this and I dont think it will be my last.

    I have truly been inspired by your videos and your website. Keep up the great work.

  33. Mark and Steve (over at wwmm):
    Thank you for this years project. I enjoy each of these almost as much as my Grandchildren and the effort means a great deal to my wife and I.
    Again, thank you.

  34. Bob D. December 9, 2013

    I just posted my picture of the Young Artist Easel.

    Thanks Marc, this was a fun project to build. Great plans and video!

    Bob D.

  35. Earl Wojciechowski December 10, 2013

    Just send my picture. A fun project, and as always learned a thing or two.
    Thanks for organizing Marc

  36. Ed Mills December 23, 2013

    Is it to late to send an easel picture? I made one for my daughter who teaches kindergarten, however she will not receive it until Christmas day. I thought it would be great to get a picture of the easel in use by her students. Thanks.

  37. Toby December 24, 2013

    Hi Mark,

    Quick question – do you have a source for the paper roll? Having trouble finding that and need to deliver these to the little future graffiti artists this week.



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