I completed an adaptation of James Coulter’s Plein Air System. I liked the pattern James Coulter had used, and I loved the idea of employing a tripod. I build stuff for fun, doodling in wood, and I had some Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) and maple around from another project.
I made some changes from the original concept. Or – maybe these are already part of the system and hard to see from the photos of the original system. There aren’t detail shots of the hinge attachment for instance, nor of the suspension of the lids…
- I made the attachment to the tripod using a 1/4″ steek plate with 1/4″-20 thread holes for the tripod attachment, and also used four through-bolts to attach the plate to the maple easel bar.
- I used Jatoba in a “T” shape on the tripod easel, to hold painting surfaces that can be painted around the edges (wood or gallery-wrapped canvas).
- I through-bolted attachment of hinges – the two lids when open exert force directly outward to the hinge attachments, screws are designed to resist a perpendicular force to their axis much greater than a pull out along the axis – through-bolts move that stress to the washer, lockwasher and nut on the other side of the surface.
- I used a block of Jatoba to hold the lids parallel to the palette box. These keep the hinges from dropping the lids down lower than the palette box.
- I put a keeper bar on one lid, and latched both sides of that using solid brass latches through-bolted.
- I added rubber feet.
- I added D rings at the top opposite the rubber feet to hold a shoulder strap.
- I made the tripod holder blocks adjustable so there is height adjustment up and down and accomodation to different tubular tripods.
- I put plexiglas plastic inside all three pieces of the palette box.
- The finish is clear lacquer – very nice, but requires a sealed environment, the fumes are pervasive.
This would need dove-tail joinery and a surface 1/4″ maple or birch (instead of luaun underlayment ply) to bring it up to fine woodworking standards. It would also likely cost – well, it would cost LOTS. A reasonable exchange would be $660 – $720 with these additions. And that would be making at least 5 of ’em at a time. Or you could of course build your own.