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5 Things you will need from a table top easel

5 Things you will need from a table top easel

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Reading time: 6 minutes

Ideal for painting, sketching and drawing, table top easels (also known as desk easels or just table easels) are perhaps the most popular of all easels. Beyond the world of fine art, they are used by crafters for embroidery work, by avid puzzle fans as a jigsaw puzzle board, by those in the wedding world for propping up the evening seating plan!

Whatever the use, and whether it is A3 or A2 size, you will want to consider the 5 key factors below before making your purchase. After all, wooden table top easels all appear very similar in appearance making it hard to be sure that you are going to get what you need.

Table Top Easel

1. Durability

It goes without saying that you will want an easel that is hard-wearing and that will last. Table top easels are normally made from beech wood and constructed using screws, nails and glue. In fact, it is not uncommon to find traces of glue around the edges of the wood.

They consist of three parts: (1) the rectangular board (2) the lip (or ridge) at the bottom of the board, and (3) the two rear sections which allow the easel to stand, to be adjusted and to fold away.

Easel - Zieler Art Supplies
  • i. The rectangular board – if you squeeze the face of board with your fingers it should stay firm. If it moves or starts bending then the chances are it’s been poorly made; as a result it may become susceptible to cracking over time.
  • ii. The lip – this section will be supporting your work so it is important that it is properly fixed to the board. There should be little or no gap between the lip and board.
Crack And Gap - Zieler Art Supplies
Poorly Made Boards Can Begin To Crack. Around The Lip Section There Should Be No Real Gaps Like Shown Above
  • iii. The rear sections – one of these, the groove section, will normally be screwed into the board and will consist of some hinges to allow the folding action. Again, these should be properly fixed to ensure that the section opens and closes without wobbling around.

The other section, bar section, normally has a horizontal bar that will fix into any one of the grooves in the groove section. Sometime the bar section moves from side to side so that it is easy to manoeuvre into the groove section.
Some people prefer the bar section to operate more tightly. If this is the case you can simply tighten the side screw on both sides. The opposite is also true, if you want to loosen the bar section simply loosen the screws at both ends very slightly.

Side Bar - Zieler Art Supplies
If You Wish Adjust The Tension Of The Bar Section You Can Do So With A Screwdriver


2. Portability

As durable as you will want your easel to be, you will probably want to be able to move it around easily.

If you plan to move around a lot with your easel consider the weight of it. If you plan to use the easel on your lap, in bed for example, you will not want something too heavy that may cause you discomfort.

Both Zieler A2 and A3 easels are designed with durability and portability in mind. The easels can be easily slipped in and out of their boxes and carried from one place to another using the carry handle.

Carry Handle - Zieler Art Supplies

3. Angles & Posture

One of the biggest benefits of a table easel is to help minimise unnecessary bending or straining of the neck, shoulder and back whilst working. This is especially true when carrying out detailed work such as diamond painting. The operating angles of the easels promote correct posture by facilitating the upright position that it is recommended that you should be working in.

Easel Posture - Zieler Art Supplies
Table Top Easels Help Promote Correct Posture

It goes without saying that the more angles the easel offers, the greater flexibility you have to work at the angle that suits you.

The majority of A3-sized wooden table easels offer 3 angles with their A2-sized equivalent offering 5 angles.

A very common misconception is that one of these angles, the one at which the board is closed, is not actually a working angle. Whilst it is true that the majority of people will only use this angle to close the board, some artists will require a flat 180° angle when working as they will want to avoid any chance of their paint tricking down the paper or canvas. Once dry they may choose to lift their work to another angle and continue their work.

Another reason why some users prefer to work at a flat angle for some projects is that it raises the height of their work allowing them to rest their hands on the board as well as bringing their work closer to their eyes.

Of course, if you are not planning on working at a flat angle you will typically only have 2 angles to choose from with most A3 easels. If you feel this may be too restrictive look for an easel that offers more angles.


Angles - Zieler Art Supplies

Both the A3 and A2 versions of the Zieler table-top easels offer 5 adjustable angles.

4. Stability

Whether you plan to use your easel at a desk or on the kitchen table, there will probably be nothing worse than your easel moving around while you are working on it – so stability is very important. Not only will you want a good grip on the base of the groove section, you will want this section to be level otherwise the board will rock from side to side.

Most wooden desk easels are screw-fixed with some kind of rubber feet to help prevent the boards from slipping. Soft rubber feet will wear away quickly whereas hard rubber not only offers great grip but more durability. In addition, if you plan to use the easel outdoors then hard rubber feet should be considered.

Hard Rubber Feet - Zieler Art Supplies

5. Functionality

Whether you plan to use your easel for art, craft or even small presentations, you will want to ensure it will work for your needs. Covered below are some of the attributes you may want to consider for your needs:

  • i. Range of angles – as mentioned earlier, ensure you have a sufficient number of operating angles.
  • ii. The depth of the lip section of the easel – this needs to be a size which will hold that deep-edge canvas you want to paint on or hold that LED lightbox. However, it does not want to be too deep so that it gets in the way when you are working at the bottom board area.
Lip - Zieler Art Supplies
  • iii. The surface of the board – you will want a flat, smooth surface. If you plan on using masking tape with your easel, you will ideally want a surface that is not varnished as this may prevent the tape from sticking property to the board.
  • iv. The size of the board – If you are planning to use metal clips or masking tape to support your work (masking tape is often used for watercolour painting for example), you will want your board to be slightly larger than your paper sheet. This will provide you with more usable space on your sheet.

Both Zieler A2 and A3 easels are slightly larger than standard size boards to provide additional space for clips or masking at the edges around the board.

Clips Masking - Zieler Art Supplies


An easel is something you are most likely to want to last for a long time. Therefore, you should consider your purchase carefully. How often you plan to use it, whether you intend to travel with it and the different type of art work (or other work) you plan to use it for should all be taken into account.

The table below summarises the key attributes of the Zieler table top easels.

Product No. of Angles Stability Board Surface Depth of Lip Section Size of Work Board Weight
5 Approx (180°,38°,54°,67° & 79°)

4 x



Steam dried, smoothed & unvarnished


W447mm x

H317mm x


1.4kg (unboxed) 1.6kg (boxed)


(180°,31°,44°,56° & 66°)

4 x

4 x hard-rubber feet

W625mm x

H437mm x


2.1kg (unboxed) 2.5kg (boxed
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