Monday, July 18, 2011

Building a French Companion


Above you can see the French Companion I recently built. The French Companion is smaller than the French Mistress but they both look and do the same thing. I decided to build mine because I had the scrap wood laying around from past projects and didn't feel like waiting for the FC to be shipped had I ordered one online. At this moment the FC is on sale at ASW for $52.99.


Here is how I built mine. The panels are 3/16 Luan I had purchased a while back at Home Depot. First I cut three panels of luan. These measured 13x16 and two 13x8. Then I cut pieces of 5/8 x5/8 strips of wood to fit along the edges of the panels. These are just butt jointed, nothing fancy. The frame strips are just pine that was cut from an old piece of 2x4. I glues these to the panels and then shot in a few brads to reinforce them (you could use short finishing nails too).

I then went to Ace hardware and bought 2 12" piano hinges for $8 a piece. Once I had those I lined up the panels and installed the hinges.
 I then stained it with red oak stain and then waxed it with the Howards Feed N Wax. Here is the view of the box closed. for transport.
A view of the box open ready to be sat on the drawer of the French easel. I was going to buy some small latches to keep the doors closed but couldn't find any. I'll hunt online for those. A bungy cord will work for now.
Ready for action! It's that simple...cut panels to size, glue and nail on wood frame strips, screw on hinges, stain and wax....Use! It gives ample room now when using the French easel to lay out your paints, palette knives, turps, coffee cup, donut, and has a nice amount of room to mix paint. Very easy to build.

6 comments:

Dianne said...

Thanks for the step by step on the FC. I was wondering about your measurements for the two small panels until I realized you set the edge/frame pieces inside the edge of the panels instead of around the outside, good idea! For carrying I guess you could just set it in the easel part of the French easel. I have one of the metal side shelves for mine and I've been debating with myself about getting the left-hand one too, but this allows a glass palette if you want it.

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Dianne,
I suppose you could strap it to the easel part on the FE for carrying...bungie cord it. These usually come with a handle like a briefcase has so if you added that to the FC that would be another way.

I didn't add any of that simply because they didn't have it at Ace Hardware the day I went. A handle, some locking snaps for the smaller panels and it would be complete. Maybe I'll poke around online to see about them. They won't add much to the weight which is right now at 2 pounds.

Diane Antone said...

Hi Ron,
I see there is another Dian(n)e commenting on your blog! I'm the one with only one "n" !
I have a little question about the French Companion, which looks like a great idea. Is there any way of fixing it to the actual easel? Don't you find it tends to move around when you are painting, or if there is a breeze? It's very windy here in Brittany...

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Diane,
When I use my FE on location I used to have a normal flat palette that came with the FE. I'd clamp this to the drawer with a big plastic clamp bought from a hardware store. The clamp stored in the drawer when carrying the box to and fom the car.

I had figured I'd just use a larger clamp, or maybe one on each side, to hold down the FC since the clamps are cheap, work well and are easy to attach.

I suppose you could make some other attachment for breezy conditions you have there...maybe sopmething with a bolt that goes through the drawer and FC held on by a nut or pin. I'll look into it.

As for it moving around that hasn't been a problem so far. I have used my larger turps can and small medium jars on one side and my knives, brushes on the other and it all seemed to balance right in the middle of the drawer....of course no wind to mess with trying it out here in the studio.

I'll post something that I come up with.

Ron Guthrie said...

Diane,
You know what would work well...2 bungy cords! You attach them to the top corners (the part by the mixing area) of the FC and criss cross them under the drawer holding the FC down to the drawer. Simple, cheap and they can store in the drawer, or under it, when carrying.

Gary said...

Such a great article which the panels are 3/16 Luan I had purchased a while back at Home Depot. First I cut three panels of luan. These measured 13x16 and two 13x8. Then I cut pieces of 5/8 x5/8 strips of wood to fit along the edges of the panels. These are just butt jointed, nothing fancy. The frame strips are just pine that was cut from an old piece of 2x4. I glues these to the panels and then shot in a few brads to reinforce them . Thanks for sharing this article.