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My home made type of mahl stick

Thought this might be useful to some people..

I decided to make a mahl stick to help out when I do larger paintings. However I saw some things that I didn't like when I looked at sticks to buy (including the cost!). So I thought about it a bit and then made this mahl stick which was very inexpensive to build.

Here is the stick propped up in our kitchen:

First of all, notice that is not a round pole. A round pole puts more pressure on the palm of your hand as the surface area is quite small. The best shape would be a flatter surface with no sharp corners. I found a piece of pine 'quadrant moulding'  style wood for using on skirting boards:

This has a nice curved shape with no sharp corners:

I also decided that a hook on the end which I could put over the top of my easel / panel would work better for me than the cloth ball often used at the end. So I found some hooks with a screw on the end which you can screw into the soft pine without even using any tools. With the help of some pliers I expanded the hook angle a bit and it works very well:

I only needed 1 hook, but they didn't come in less than packs of 10. :(

Still.. total price for wood and hooks, and with 2 minutes of screwing in the hook by hand was £3.39

Hope it gives people some ideas! :)



  • Nice. You may need to bind the end of the wood so the pressure on the hook screw doesn't split the wood.  Depends how heavily you lean on it.

    I saw that Mark Boedges uses a length of bent curtain rail he found.  It has the same characteristics as yours - no sharp edges and relatively flat.

    I've seen people using a wooden walking stick.

    Don't forget the Jim Carrey Mahl Ladder.

  • Very resourceful! I do small paintings but just this morning was in need of a mahl stick. I think we still have some old curtain rods that will work in a pinch.

    Very clever idea!
  • Good idea @Richard_P, @PaulB's advice about binding/reenforcing the end for the screw is important.
  • I'm not holding the other end of the stick when I use it, I have two strips of thick cardboard stuck to the top and bottom of the panel and so the stick just rests against there rather than myself pulling it slightly when using it.
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