Best A-Frame Easels

Two A-frame easels one with canvas mounted on it one without

Posted On March 2, 2020

When it comes to buying artist tools and materials it is always hard deciding what to purchase since there are so many things on offer nowadays. Same goes for easels it si always hard deciding what type of easel to get to suit your needs. If you have limited space and are working on smaller painting surfaces what would be the best for you is an A-frame easel. I made you a list of Best A-Frame easels and I hope it will help you make the right decision and purchasing the right easel for you.

The most commonly used artist easels are A-frame easels also known as lyre easels. The name comes from the shape of the easel which resembles a letter A when looked at from the front.

On the front, there are two fixed legs and the third one movable is on the back. Back leg can be pulled forward and allow you to flatten your easel for easier storage.

They are smaller and foldable, easy to store behind the door or under the bed. Ideal for those painters that do not have designated studio space and have to paint in shared rooms.

The overall size of A-frame easels is small so don’t expect them to carry large panel or canvas. Usually, they can carry canvas or panel as large as 38″ to 75″ but you can also use them for smaller sizes.

Size, storability and low price make A-frame easels ideal for students and beginners or artist with limited workspace but they are not sturdy and stable enough for large formats so if you like working big I would definitely not recommend an A-frame easel to you. For large formats, you should get yourself an H-frame easel.

There are many great manufacturers of A-frame easels so it can be really difficult deciding which one is the best for you. I composed a list of ones you might want to look in to and that definitely deserves your attention.

I chose three different lyre easels made by Mabef which is, in my opinion, the leader in the production of wooden easels. Those are M-25 convertible lyre easel, M-13 basic lyre easel and M-11 inclinable lyre easel.

There are also two in budget easels which are of great quality for the price and might be a good starting point ( if you are still not ready to spend that extra cash for a more professional easel like the ones that Mabef is offering ) and those are US Atr Supply easel Sunset and Mont Marte Tripod easel H.D.Beech.

Mabef logo on a white surface

Mabef A-Frame Easels

Mabef is an Italian family founded company that is the world leader in the production of wooden easels. All Mabef easels are produced out of top quality beech wood which is the perfect choice for artist easels because of its properties.

There are no soft or hard grains in a single piece of beech wood meaning your easels will never bend or splinter. All moving parts on Mabef easels are constructed in a manner so they do not cause any friction. All an all Mabef easels are of unparalleled beauty and quality with a life-long guarantee and you will definitely make no mistake if you decide to purchase one of those.

Mabef Convertible Lyre Easel M-25

This is not what I would call a typical A-frame easel. It is actually a single mast easel supported by one I shaped leg and movable back leg. If you have a small workspace this one is ideal for you!

It is also convertible which means you can adjust it to almost any angle you need for your work and also you can make it lay flat which allows you to use this amazing easel for any painting technique even for those most liquid ones as watercolor painting.

I like this feature the most because of the varnishing. You don’t even need to move your painting from the easel to completely finish it, just adjust the position of the easel and you get a nice flat surface to varnish. ( Sometimes the canvas you work on is too big to be placed on the table so you need to put it on the ground to varnish it and that is super uncomfortable, so no wonder I like that the easel can lay flat. )

Same as all Mbef easels M-25 is produced of top-quality beech wood and has an anti-staining oil finish. It is so simple maintaining it in pristine condition. All you need to do when you finish painting is to scrape or wipe all the paint off it and take a rag damped in oil and polish it.

Don’t let the look of this easel fool you! It is very sturdy and stable because of the shape of the base. It can support canvas or a panel up to 22lbs in weight.

The weight of the easel is 20lbs and when fully stretched the height goes up to 88 1/2″.If you position your easel vertically to paint on it can support a canvas up to 78″ high and if you lay it flat to form a table it can hold a canvas or a panel up to39″ in height.

You can use it for smaller canvas as well since it has two mobile canvas holders on the mast. Assembly is needed upon purchase but there is a nice graphic instruction that comes with it and also there are videos to help you with it.

The price is very reasonable if you just think that this easel comes with a lifetime guarantee and it is of superb quality. The only remark I have is that there is no tool tray which can be a bit annoying especially if you are used to working with an easel that has one, other than that this easel is, in my opinion absolutely perfect.

Mabef Basic Lyre Easel M13

This is a typical A-Frame easel you would think based on the looks of it. But it is not! It has a few very cool features to make your painting easier, at least when it comes to the tool part.

The shape of Mabef Lyre easel M-13 is the same as any other A-frame easel two legs on the front end, one moving leg on the back a mast and canvas holders. It is constructed of solid top quality beech wood and like all other superb Mabefs’ products, it has a lifetime guarantee.

So what is is that makes this easel special or better than just an ordinary A-frame easel ( apart from its amazing quality of course )?

This little easel has a ratchet system so you can easier adjust the height of your canvas or panel while you are painting. It also has an innerspring system to reduce the vibrations of your painting surface.

You can adjust the height of the painting surface to use the easel while sitting or standing. Canvas holders are great and they keep your painting surface securely in place so even if you are a bit more energetic while painting you do not have to worry your canvas or panel will flip or fall.

On the front, it has a nice tool tray big enough for you to store your tools and paints while you are working so you have them at hand. All the moving parts slide nicely so there’s no damage to the easel. M13 is small and nice to fold and tuck under the bed or behind the door so you can use it even if you do not have a studio space. This makes it ideal for students or hobbyists.

The height of M13 lyre easel is 90 1/2″ and the weight is 12lbs. It can support painting surface up to 22lbs in weight and maximum 49″ in height. You can use it to work on smaller formats as well since it has moving canvas holders.

M13 is a sturdy, reliable A-frame easel. It is great for students and beginners as well as for all those painters that work on smaller formats.

Mabef Inclinable Lyre Easel M11

One more of Mabefs’ amazing lyre easels. M11 is in many things alike M13 tho it is a tad bit bigger and can accommodate slightly bigger painting surfaces. It has a ratchet system to help you adjust the height of your painting surface safely and securely same as M13 but it also has a ratchet system that helps you tilt your painting surface to many different angles with ease.

As all Mabef easels, M11 is also constructed out of top quality beech wood with an oil finish to make it stain resistant. Also, it has a lifetime guarantee and if you take good care of your easel it can really last you a lifetime.

M11 is a typical A-frame easel with two front legs and one moving leg on the back end. The bottom canvas holder has a tool trey on it which moves as you move the panel or canvas holder.

The tray is big enough for you to store all the tools and paints you might need while painting. Both of the holders can easily be safely tightened so there is no sliding or moving of your painting surface while you are working. All of the moving parts on Mabef easels are constructed in a manner they do not damage the wood but still can be tightened so nothing slides or flips.

You can fold your easel and store it away under the bed or behind the door when you are not working on it so it is great for students and hobbyist or simply for those of you that do not have a studio space.

Weight of Mabefs’ lyre easel M-11 is 15lbs and it can carry a canvas or a panel up to 22lbs. Maximum height of the easel when fully stretched is 96 1/” and a maximum height of the painting surface it can accommodate is 49 1/2.

Simple assembly is required upon purchase but there is an instruction in the box so it shouldn’t be very hard. If however, you find the instructions in the box confusing I have included a video for you to help you to assemble your easel simply and quickly.

Considering the quality and the lifetime guarantee I would say that the price of this easel is not high at all.

All in all, M-11 is a good sturdy, stable and practical easel great for those of you that work on smaller painting surfaces and have limited space for painting.

Woman painting on a large canvas mounted on US Art Supply easel

US Art Supply Easel Sunset

Sunset easel manufactured by US Art Supply is a typical A-frame easel with minor adjustments that make your painting experience much more pleasant.

It is crafted out of solid beechwood with an oil finish for additional protection from staining and easier maintenance. Beechwood is the best choice of material for wooden easels because of its amazing properties and consistency. The best wooden easels in the world are made of this same material.

Sunset easel has a typical A-frame easel shape meaning there are two front legs and one back that can be moved in various positions to ensure you get that perfect angle for your painting. This makes it usable for many techniques and is especially good for pastel drawings tho it is useful while you are painting since it places your canvas in a good position so you can reach even the high end of it.

On the front side of the mast, there are two sliding canvas holders. The bottom canvas holder has a tool tray attached to it. The tool tray is spacious enough and great for you to hold in it all you might need at hand while painting such as paintbrushes, tubes of paint and palette knives.

Next to the trigger mechanism which US Art Supply Sunset easel has to easily adjust the height of your painting surface whether its panel or canvas and securely keep it in place, it also has a tilting mechanism on the mast which allows you to adjust the tilting angle of your painting surface.

Sunset easel has nice easy to turn knobs to make all the adjustments more pleasant for you. You can use it in a sitting or standing position, whichever you prefer.

The height of the canvas it can accommodate is up to 50″. You can also use it for smaller canvas since both of the canvas holders are mobile.

Maximum height of the easel is 89″ and the depth of the footprint is 39″. Sunset easel weighs about 13 pounds. It is easy to store it when you are not working. Just simply fold it and put behind the door or under the bed. This is great for painters without designated studio space and for students with limited room for painting.

This is what I would call in budget easel great for beginners and students that work on smaller painting surfaces. It is made of good quality beechwood, easy to store since you can fold it, easy to transport since its lightweight and great for the price you’re getting it for.

Painting of a landscape mounted on Mon Marte field easel

Mont Marte

Mont Marte is a fairly new Australian company that produces art tools and supplies. Mont Marte products can be found in over fifty countries all over the world.

All of the products they offer are of good quality and yet very affordable so if you are on a limited budget and still want to buy something good I recommend Mont Marte. 

Mont Marte Tripod Easel H.D. Beech

This is yet another typical A-frame easel. It is made of solid handcrafted beechwood with quality steel fittings. Mont Marte H.D. beech easel is very light and easy to transport.

What is very nice with this easel is that it can accommodate two painting surfaces at once so you can put your sketch or sample on the top bit while your painting surface goes under it. On the front end of the easel, there is a big tool tray for all the tools and materials you might need while painting.

One thing I really like about this easel is that it has rubber caps on the legs to prevent it from slipping which might not seem that important to you but trust me I have worked on the easel that didn’t have those and it is very annoying when the easel starts slipping especially when you’re working in a studio that has wooden or tile floors.

Weight of the easel is about 7 pounds and it has a handle on the side so making it easier for you to carry. When folded the easel is 37 x 6.5 x 4. When it is fully stretched it goes up to 89″ in height. Width is 31 1/2″ and depth is 39 1/2.

Mont Marte H.D. Beech easel can support a canvas up to 52″ in height but this is good only in theory since the canvas holders are simply not big enough.

When you put a bigger canvas or panel on it even the slightest touch on the sides makes it move. If you are one of the more energetic painters this will really be a problem for you.

Not even tightening your painting surface really hard with holders helps. If the painting surface is big simple brush strokes on the sides of it will make it flip or even fall off the easel.

Another issue with this easel is that there are no assembly instructions in the box so you have to figure that part yourself. Also, tool tray doesn’t come with its own screws so you have to purchase additional ones for it.

When you manage to assemble it is about 89″ in height and you can use it sitting or standing. It can be folded to be small enough so you can store it behind the door or under the bed so it is great for students and hobby painters or any of you that do not have a studio space.

The price of the easel is low and the quality is not that bad so I can easily say this a nice in budget easel but I would not recommend it to serious painters or those of you that like working on bigger surfaces it is simply not sturdy enough.

So to summarize:

This is an A-frame easel made of solid handcrafted beech wood with steel fittings. It has two canvas holders and a tool tray on the front of the mast.

It can accommodate two painting surfaces at once. It can carry a canvas up to 52″ but that is not recommended since the holders are not big enough and the painting surface is not held securely in place.

It has rubber caps on the legs to prevent sliding. It is 89″ tall when fully stretched so it can be used while sitting or standing both works just fine.

It is easy to fold it to be very small and has a handle on the side so you can carry it easier. This makes Mont Marte H.D. easel very good for students that need to carry it a lot or for those painters that need to carry it to a lot of different places.

This also means it can be stored away very easy so you do not have to worry about the space it will take simply fold it and put it behind the door or under the bed. The price is appropriate for the quality you get.

This is a good enough easel for beginners and students but not something I would recommend to any serious artist.

I hope I managed to help you decide which easel will suit your needs the best. If you have any questions regarding the subject feel free to leave them in the comment section and I will be happy to help.

Written by Magdalena

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