Friday, March 6, 2009

How to build a Pochade Box Panel Carrier

Winter 09, pochade painting, oil on canvas

This is the second installment on,” building your own Pochade Kit. The following instructions are for an easy to make Panel Carrier. Again, the idea was to use nothing but simple hand tools and easily accessible materials and also for this kit to be a cost effective way for anyone interested in working en plein air, to join in.
I think it should be said that on the market today there are some highly crafted and beautiful Pochade Kits available. The majority of which are worth every penny they charge for them.
Their cost has gone down considerably in the last few years, and I do see even cheaper models being offered, but I worry a bit about the quality of mass marketed and mass produced kits. I just hope when it comes time for me to upgrade to one of those high end set ups, they are still around. Just take a look at some of the off brand name French Easels in art supply stores.
Those knock offs have done more to damage the reputation of that easel than anything else.
So anyway, the whole point of this Pochade adventure is to give us an inexpensive avenue into working on location, in front of nature, and also to conserve expenditures for paying the bills and buying paint. Well at least until we get that huge commission or make a sale.
On to the kit.
I decided to build this box to hold 8’x10” (20x25cm) and 6”x8”(15x20cm) canvas panels or 1/8”
hardwood panels. I also wanted it to fit easily into my backpack with the box. I ended up with a panel carrier that is 9”x11” (23x27cm) finished size, which fits into almost any normal pack,
and holds seven panels total, or in my case six panels and a hand palette.

Material List:
Hardware latch and hinge $4.18
½ x 4” x 4” Pine board 2.20
¼ x 36” Hardwood dowels 3.70
1/4” x 2’ x 4’ Birch plywood 10.00
Total Cost: $20.08 USD

Tools List:
Miter saw and box

You should have plenty of wire brads, wood glue, stain and polyurethane left over from the Pocahde Box.
I will say, if you build this box, go ahead and buy an extra three feet of four inch stock and build two of them at once. With the extra stock and the remaining supplies from the first, you will have enough materials to make two carriers for just a few more dollars and a little more effort. One of those hind site things. LOL

The sides of my box will be (10 1/4”) ten and one quarter inches long. This will give me room for the lid and the bottom panel, for a finished box size of eleven inches. Take a piece of two inch stock and cut it to (20 ½”) twenty and a half inches. Then attach your ¼” square dowels with glue and 5/8” wire brads. Use one of the dowel pieces as a spacer and stair step your way across the board until you get to the end and have something that looks like this.

Allow to dry over night. Then cut in a miter box, two lengths of 9 ¼” inches. Turn the two ends around so that the teeth match and mark with an X. This is the top of your panel sides. Check the width of your box with a canvas board.

Cut two panels from your Birch plywood, at nine (9”) by eleven (11) inches. Mark the top of the panels at one half inch (1/2”) for the lid and bottom one quarter inch (1/4”) for the base plate.
Line your side supports to those two lines and glue and nail together.

Next cut a piece of four inch stock to nine inches for your lid. Cut a piece from your plywood to (9”) nine by (3½”) three one half inches for your bottom plate. Nail and glue this piece on.
You now have a Pochade Box Panel Carrier !
All that’s left to do is sand and finish if you wish, and last, install the hardware.

Because I wanted my Panel Carrier to slide in and out of a backpack, I spent some time rounding the sharp edges with a wood rasp and sanding to ease the roughness. I also stained and polyurethane the outside of the box and used a piece of the scrap to make a small hand palette which fits inside the box. When I was done and looking at the left over material, I realized I could have built two carriers with just a few dollars more of stock material. Considering the most time spent was on gluing the dowels down, you can just as easily make two carriers by using a longer piece and cutting into fours. Of course if you had a source to route out the dados instead of gluing the teeth in place, you could make this carrier in no time. But if you have limited tools and equipment, this is a great solution for a fast, simple and easy to build Pochade Box Carrier. You will then have a functioning” Pochade Kit”,Pochade Box and Carrier for only $55.44 us dollars. Spend the savings on a tripod, paints, brushes and supports, or save up for one of those high end tricked out Pochade Kits.
Enjoy Jim


  1. Thanks for taking the time to show us how to make this useful box

  2. I made a box like this one, mine took 9x12 panels... thanks for the reference of your box.... I am currently making a sketch box using a photo of the sketch box Tom Thompson used

  3. Thank's for the article, really helpfull.

  4. I was really impressed with your first post on building a pochade box... and you did it again with this panel carrier. Love the pochade too. Thank you. Benoit

  5. Marco,
    Thanks for the comment and I do hope it was useful,.. love your site.

  6. Benoit, Thank you for interest and comments. I hope you get some inspiration from it all.
    I am just glad you enjoyed the effort.
    Again thanks.

  7. This is a great painting, excellent composition r.

  8. thank you. very generous of you to share.

  9. Wow. This is exactly what I have been looking for!
    Thanks so much.
    Hugs and kisses, April