How to Make an Artist’s Painting Palette

Today I made a palette. It is for a film being made about a vodka factory in Ukraine,  and therefore destined to start life as a prop, but if it survives the experience it will become a useful smaller palette about the place, and I will love it very much.

Makita Jigsaw

Makita Jigsaw a fabulous tool

FIRST get out your Jigsaw. My one is a fabulous gift from my brother a couple of years ago when everyone had some spare cash. I ought to make more use of it but seem to always be doing 500 things and not using it. Anyway, today – I Did.

NEXT get a nice piece of thin wood, I used a fairly cheapo one made of veneer but you might get a better one. My one is not a very smooth surface and it might splinter a bit, so its a Rough Palette.

THEN draw the palette shape onto it with a pen or pencil. I found a shape in an old book ‘The Portrait Painter’s Handbook’ but you can get one on the interweb.

THEN set up your wood on a workbench – use some kind of clamp – and cut out your shapes with your lovely jigsaw. When you make the thumb hole, you need to get the saw running then slowly touch it onto the wood in the middle of the hole area; the saw should break into the wood but it might make a bit of mess so avoid the edges of the hole shape at this stage. Once its in you can cut out the hole.

AFTER the shapes are cut you need to sand down the edges and the surface if needed too.




paint the whole thing with shellac varnish. You clean shellac brushes with methylated spirits. Shellac is amazing stuff made from crushed beetles wings. It creates a thin waterproof seal on a surface so its incredibly useful. It dries really fast and a high quality one is quite clear.

Clean shellac off with meths

Clean shellac off with meths

The Finished Palette

A Home Made Palette in Action

NOW you have a lovely palette, a bit funny looking perhaps, but still useful and more fun than going to a shop. I can’t really say its cheaper though – they only cost about ten quid in the shops so unless you already have a jigsaw, some wood, a worktable and some shellac, its probably not worth the bother.

The film is ‘How To Re-Establish A Vodka Empire’ – find out more here.  I hope this is the beginning of an illustrious film career for this Palette and I expect to see an Oscar for Best Prop before long.

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