Friday, March 30, 2012

Large Panel Holders

Panel Holders. Front One For 16" x 20" Panels and Back One For 18" x 24" Panels.

Last December I did a blog post about holders for small painting panels. You can find that here. Those are fine for little panels but for packing around larger panels - say, 16" x 20" or 18" x 24", something lighter weight would be better, I think. Like the smaller holders these are for transporting primed painting panels into the field for use and transporting freshly finished paintings back.

16" x 20" Holder with One Panel Removed
So I went to a friend's wood shop and we appropriated some salvaged pine that was once part of a cheap living room sofa. There I made the two panel holders pictured throughout this post. These could be made out of better wood, I suppose, but knot-free pine works just fine. Besides I'm going to be hauling and dragging them all over hill and dale, so why beat up expensive hardwood? You, however can make yours out of ebony with gold inlay and fine mother-of pearl marquetry if you'd like.

Skeletal Holders Sans Panels
CAUTION: when working with power tools or any woodworking tools, be sure to understand and use safe wood working methods and use all safety equipment. If you can count to ten on your fingers before you begin, be sure you still can afterwards. Nine and a half would not be good. Less would be even worse. Wear proper eye protection so you can still see if you have fingers later! 

First, I cut the strips that make up the frames and rabbeted them on a table saw. The rabbets* are sized to allow plenty of room for panels 3/8" thick or so, even though the panels I generally use are 1/4" or less. Next they were cut to length and the ends were cut for joining. The frame sections were assembled with wood glue and grabber screws - a single screw per corner.

The picture above shows the assembled frame with the rabbet and how the corners were cut and joined. The illustration below is of a cross section on the lower frame section showing how the vertical cuts of the rabbet were angled. This reduces contact with the painted side of a freshly painted panel while providing ample support for the painting.  An angle of 5 deg. or so would probably be enough.

Triangles were cut to reinforce the corners and attached with glue and grabber screws. These holders are intended to hold two wet painting panels facing toward each other. The next photo shows the space between the triangle braces and painting panel. The gap allows room for wet paintings to be placed in the holder without smearing paint against the triangle.

There's a couple of these little metal things at the top of both sides of the panel holders. They secure the top of the panel into the top of the holder. I forget what they're called but you can get them at any place that sells hardware or picture framing supplies. Their disadvantage is that they allow the panel to rattle around in the top of the holder. Annoying but not serious.

I found these neat mirror retainers at a local woodworking supply shop. There's a couple of them at the bottom of both sides of the panel holders. They do hold the bottom of the painting firmly in place, but the retainers stick out and snag on things when carrying the panel holders through brush or moving them in or out of the car. In spite of that, I may replace the top hardware with more of these.

These things work, but if anyone out there has any suggestions about better ways to secure painting panels in the holders, you're welcome to let me know. I've tried securing them with big rubber bands but that didn't work.

Finally, I found some really cool hardware to add to the panel holders to allow them to be carried easily.

I found these neat (and inexpensive) handles to add to the holders. They go well with the slightly rough look of the pine, no?

These groovy ring pulls were left over from another project. One at the top of each corner gives a place for a carrying strap to be attached. They're fastened by a bolt through the frame. If you decide to use these sorts of things on your panel holders (made out of ebony with gold inlay and fine mother-of-pearl marquetry), be sure to drill the bolt holes before you assemble the frame, and attach the hardware before you attach the triangle reinforcements. Otherwise you'll have to think of some other way to do that. Bon assemblage!

*That's rabbets, not rabbits. No bunnies were harmed in the making of these panel holders! At least not until rabbit season.

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