Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to the Little 8 X 10 Paintbox

This was originally posted on a plein air painting forum. It was in response to a question someone on the forum had about how to hold open the lid on a homemade pochade box they were building. My suggestion received positive feedback, so I'm posting a slightly expanded version of it here in hopes it might be helpful to others.

There are many different ways to hold a pochade box lid open. This little thumb box uses a sliding catch with a knurled nut to fix it in place. It's sturdy enough, compact and easy to use:

Unfortunately, the only lid supports of this kind I could find were made for large wooden chests, and seemed like overkill on a small pochade box. They're way too bulky for what I wanted.

Here's an underside view of a box with hinges that have wire stops built into them. They are easy to use and aren't bulky, but they don't hold the lid firmly open in windy weather:

There are other means of holding a pochade lid open, but no commercially made hardware I could find would fit the bill. So here's how I made the lid support for a box I built. This is an 8" x 10" pochade box, but I used the same idea on the smaller ones I built. The hole in the lower part of the box goes through the side. The holes in the lid only need to go partway through. One of the holes in the lid holds the top open slightly past 90 degrees. The other hole holds the lid open at a wider angle. (I rarely if ever use the wider angle, so it may be unnecessary.) 

The holes in the side of the box are sized so the bolts on the support can easily slide in without excess play. The bolt holes in the support arm are sized for a tight fit to hold the bolts firmly in the arm. Here's the box open:

And a close up:

The support can be made to go on either side of the box, depending on whether your pallet slides open or lifts out, and whether you're left or right handed. This is a close up of the inside of the box showing the wing nut that secures the support:

Here's all there is to it: a piece of wood, a short screw, a longer screw, and a wing nut. When not in use, the lid support is detached and stored inside the box. That way there is nothing sticking off the box to snag on things inside your pack or carrying bag.

Some advantages are that it's very simple and easy to make, and absolutely positively holds the lid firmly open - wind won't slam the box shut on you like it does on a commercially made box I bought. Some disadvantages are that it holds the lid open at only a limited number of fixed positions. It also has loose parts that can get lost. If you decide on this kind of lid support, be sure to carry extra wing nuts!

1 comment:


Dear James,
Do you think you would be able to identify this bit of hardware on this easel? I wanted to use something like this to the inside of my home poached box to hold boards and papers on the lid, but have no idea what is the name of this turning holders.
See photo here: