Toby loves writing on chalkboards and dry erase boards. He does his best learning when he's able to freely write and express himself. We had been toying with the idea of getting him an easel for his bedroom, but most of manufactured ones we saw were either too childish and plastic, or they were too big and bulky (not to mention expensive!) We decided we'd build him one ourselves in order to save money and space. We're tickled with how it turned out, and we're also amazed at how simple it was to put together. Toby absolutely adores it, and I think it might be a great addition to your kiddos' room or maybe to your classroom! We planned to use a thin plywood for the writing space, but we actually found an 18x24" dry erase board at Hobby Lobby for $8. We used a 40% off coupon (found on their site!) and got it for about $5. I had some chalkboard paint lying around so I just painted the back of the dry erase board. You'd never know I didn't buy it that way. You can't beat that! Here's what we did...
Two 6' 1x2s
One 8' 1x2
One small hinge
Two eye hooks
Dry erase and/or Chalk board
Dry erase and/or Chalk board
* The shape and size of this easel is based on an 18x24" chalk board and a Toby. If you have a different size board or user the height should easily be adjustable without changing any of the angles by adding (or removing) length to your legs, head piece and cross bar.
Two 48" legs with 15 degree cuts
One 48" leg with straight cuts
One 3.5" head pice with 15 degree cuts
One 28.5" cross bar
* Just a quick tip: the two front legs should end up being very long parallelograms. The cuts are made in the same direction each time, whereas the connecting "head" piece should be a trapezoid. The pictures should explain it well enough though!
First cut your head piece. This piece will join together your front two legs at the top. You want non-parallel 15 degree cuts (aka a trapezoid). The short side of the board should measure 3.5".
Next cut your two front legs. These should have parallel 15 degree cuts. They should measure 48". Line up the legs with the head piece and secure them in place with screws.
Now attach the hinge to the top center of the head piece. Then attach your remaining leg to the other side of the hinge.
Stand your easel up and measure 22" up from the bottom of each front leg and make a mark. This mark will be the bottom of your cross bar. The cross bar should be attached to the front of the easel and on the opposite side of the head piece. Screw it together from the back of the legs. We cut our cross bar with 20 degree ends just for looks. Straight cuts would work just the same.
Initially I secured each joint with one screw. It wasn't quite as solid as I wanted. Since there wasn't enough room for additional screws I put a couple of small nails in each joint. It really helped stiffen it up so I would recommend doing the same.
Now drill a hole in the back center of the cross bar and thread in your first eye hook. Do the same thing the back leg at about the same height as the first one. It doesn't have to be perfect, just close.
Now spread the legs of the easel out to where you want them to sit. You want them spread out enough so that it is good and stable. Hold your chain up and to see how long you need to make it. (note: when buying your chain make sure you will be able to easily open and close the links with pliers.) Using pliers open up the link a little and slip it on the eye hook. Now just crimp it shut.
Your easel is now ready to use! Or if you'd like you could paint or stain it like we did. We also added a hose clamp to attach a little Ikea pail so Toby could store his chalk, markers and erasers right on the easel. You could just as easily use a can or jar from your pantry.
At the end of the day we're really pleased with the outcome and Toby loves it more than anything. He wakes up in the morning and instantly starts doodling away before he gets ready for school. We spent about one hour or less whipping this up and we spent well under $30 (in fact I think we only paid $15 or so since we had a few pieces laying around the house). I know many of my readers are elementary teachers or moms, so hopefully you've found it as fun as we did! If you end up making one yourself, I'd love to see the outcome! Happy Tuesday!