How To Make a Portable Design Board/Easel

How to Make a Portable Design Board/Easel

Designed by Diane Worden, The Lookout Mountain Quilter, LLC ©2018

24” x 24”   Appx. cost $15.00 US



1 piece 1/4” Luan plywood 24” x 24”

3 wooden yardsticks

Scrap batting at least 26” x 26”

24” x 24” piece of 1/2” foam core board or scrap of insulation board (I used a piece of insulation board leftover from

making a design wall.)

1/2″ wooden buttons (12pk)

1” x 1” hinges with screws (4pk)

Spray glue

Wood glue or craft glue

12” grow-grain ribbon.

Staple gun

1/4″ staples

Pencil for marking

Screw gun

1/16” drill bit

A saw   (for cutting the yardsticks)

For an optional handle you’ll need:

A 10” piece of 1/2″ cotton cording,

a 9 1/2″ x 3” piece of fabric (I used cotton Twill),

and a 7” x 4” piece of batting.




Lay the Luan board on a covered surface outside. Use the spray glue and evenly coat the surface with a light layer of glue. Lay the piece of foam core board or insulation board on top. Line up edges and corners. With your hands, press firmly over the entire surface.

Evenly spray the foam core or insulation board with the spray glue.

On a clean surface, lay the 26” x 26” piece of batting and smooth it out. Turn the board, glue side down, in the center of the batting. Flip the board and batting over and smooth the batting as needed.

Turn the board over, batting side down. Pull the edges of the batting to the back and secure with staples.

Cut the wooden yardsticks for the stand frame. (Hint: I used a compound miter saw and placed two yardsticks together. Then I placed those between two 1” x 2” boards, one beneath the yardsticks and one on top. This helps to protect the yardsticks and keeps splintering of the edges to a minimum as they are sawn.)


2 at 22” each (frame side pieces)

2 at 14” each (frame crosspieces)

2 at 7” each (braces for the frame)

To form the rectangular stand frame, place one 14” piece at the top, and one at the bottom. Place a 22” piece on the right and one on the left on top of the 14” pieces. Line up the corners flush on both edges. Use a small dab of wood or craft glue and press firmly. Place something on each corner, such as a can of soup, to weigh-down the top yardstick pieces. Let dry overnight.

When the frame is thoroughly dry, turn it over so that the 14” pieces are on top. Place one side of a 1” x 1” hinge on each side, lining up the “hinged” part at the top-most edge of the frame.

Mark the hinge holes, and, using the 1/16” drill bit, pre-drill the screw holes. Attach each hinge with the screws.


Place the covered board, wood side up, on a flat surface. Position the top (the edge with the hinges) of the frame,  hinge side down, about 2″ down from the top edge of the board. Line up the bottom of the frame 1/4″ up from the bottom edge.

Center it side to side. (I measured 5 1/4″ in from the sides of the board to the edge of the frame.)

Tilt the frame up and open the hinges so that they lay flat against the board. Using the pencil, mark the holes.  Pre-drill the holes and attach the hinges to the board with the screws.

Take the two 7” yardstick pieces and attach one side of a hinge on one end of each. Again, line up the “hinged” part with the edge of the yardstick. Mark the holes and pre-drill them. Attach the hinges with the screws.

Lift the frame up slightly, and place a brace near the bottom under each side. Make sure that the hinged side is against the board and the hinged end is down near the bottom crosspiece of the frame. Leave a 1/4″ gap between the brace and the top edge of the bottom 14” cross piece of the frame.

Prop the frame up out of the way. Carefully lift the unhinged edge of the brace up and mark the holes of the hinge onto the board. Pre-drill the holes and attach the braces with the screws.

Fold down the frame and make sure that the frame does not rest on the braces.


Stand the board up and open the frame. Lay the braces down so that they rest on the bottom crosspiece.


Line up the ribbon so that the bottom edge of it is near the top edge of the bottom crosspiece. Place one or two staples in to secure it.

Wrap the ribbon around the crosspiece once.

Open the frame and put the braces in place so that they rest on the crosspiece. Pull the ribbon toward the board until it is very snug but does not bend the crosspiece. Hold it in place with your finger.

Release the braces so that the ribbon is slack. Using the staple gun, staple the ribbon in place.

Loosen the tension on the ribbon, and place a small line of craft glue along the top edge of the crosspiece.

Align the ribbon over the staples and hold in place until tacky. Let dry.

Again, put the braces in place and make sure that they are held secure by the tension of the ribbon.

You should be able to pick up the design board/easel and move it without the braces collapsing.

I glued wooden buttons along the bottom edge of the board. I started one inch in from the corner, and made a mark every two inches. I placed a large dot of glue on each mark and pressed a wooden button on each one.

I did this after the frame and braces were attached to the back so that the board could stand upright and put pressure on the buttons to adhere them firmly.

The reason I put so many buttons on is that this gives the easel stability, even if it shifts slightly off the edge of the table. That’s also why I placed the bottom crosspiece right at the bottom edge of the side pieces. Stability!

If a handle is desired, place the 9 1/2″ x 3” piece of fabric, wrong side up, and press in 1/4” along each long edge.

Center the cording along one long edge of the batting and tightly roll it up. Wrap the roll with thread and tie each end around the cording.

Place the covered cording in the center of the pressed fabric piece. Fold the pressed edges together and pin. Sew close to the folded edges.

On the back top edge of the design board, measure to find the center and make a mark. (At 12”) Make a mark at 10” and at 14”.

Place one end of the handle along the 10”mark. Make sure to keep the seam of the handle on the edge farthest from the center. Staple in place. Bring the other end of the handle around to the 14” mark. Again, keep the seam farthest away from center. Staple in place.


You could cover the staples and batting edges with ribbon or fabric, and paint the yardsticks, if you wish. I kind of like the unfinished raw look along with the numbers and letters on the yardsticks. I may change my mind later, but, for now, I’m happy the way it is. 🙂