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Project Ideas: Fun & Games

How to Make Your Own Artist's Palette

Whether it's out of necessity or you'd just like to make one for the sake of being creative, an artist's palette is the cornerstone for any fine artist. 

I've seen these sold in stores, and are usually limited in size and availability. So with basic power tools, you can make your very own in the shape you prefer!

In this post, I'll go over how to easily make your artist's palette.




Power Sander

Tape Measure


Cordless drill

Drill Bit


2' x 2' sheet of 1/4" luan or similar plywood

STEP 1: Gather Measurements, Materials, and Tools

If you don't already have your tools and supplies, start at your local Home Depot. The biggest expense of this project will be the power tools, if you don't already have them. 

Your local store that has a Tool Rental Center has drills and jigsaws almost always available if you don't have them and don't need them after this project.

This particular palette measures 20 inches at its widest point and 14 at its highest. Using your 2' x 2' of 1/4" thick luan plywood is the perfect choice, due to its thinness and light weight when in use.

STEP 2: Cutting the Plywood

Working in a nice open space, you can start to sketch or trace out the pattern of the artist's palette you like using your pencil.

Once this is done, you can now start to cut out the hole where the thumb will go to hold the palette. Use a drill bit to start the hole. 

In this instance, I used a 1-1/4" Forstner bit to start with a clean cut.

Once the hole is cut, this means you are now ready to use your jigsaw. Be sure always cut away from you, and use a blade rated to cut the material. 

It's up to you to start either at the thumb-hole or on the curves. 

No matter where you begin to cut, always do so in a slow and steady fashion.  Failure to do so can make the edge of the cut plywood splinter more, making it look unsightly.

Always have the plywood firmly secured by your other hand or a clamp so that it doesn't move around and become unsafe.

STEP 3: Sanding

Once you get the shape cut out after carefully usage of the jigsaw, you are now ready to sand. 

This is probably the most important step after actual cutting due to you wanting all edges to be smooth since it will be handled if the artist will use it frequently.

Using a power sander is better than sanding by hand, since a power sander can get into the thumb-hole and make beveled edges in no time.

Gently run your hand around the edges to see if you've missed any rough areas.

Use 150 or 220 grit sandpaper to get a fine finish. 

STEP 4: Cleaning and Enjoying your Artist's Palette

Once you've sanded down the palette, you can use a damp rag or tack cloth to remove any sawdust on its surface.

As a final option, you can clear coat it with a varnish or polyurethane. However, if your palette will be used heavily, be aware that some paints and pigments might react to it. Therefore, it's best practice to leave it as is.

Now you can marvel and behold your new creation!

If you are just starting in woodworking, making this is a great first project to tackle. Work safely, and you can get the exact artist's palette that is unique for your needs!

For further questions on this and any other projects, please let us know here.


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Posted 2016-10-31T22:49:30+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL Joseph_HD_ATL