Plinths– making your own

By Emily Watkins

Tasked with building some plinths for a looming group show ‘somewhere in between’, Kat Hayes and I set about searching the internet for some priceless pearls of wisdom on how to build the perfect plinth– we struggled.

However, during my final year at Saint Martins I remembered that I had watched a demo on this so we decided to give it our best shot- and off we went to B & Q.

Here is a rough idea of how we made our plinths

A rough idea of what you will need for one plinth
A rough idea of what you will need for one plinth

Step 1

Cut the wood on a circular saw. If you don’t have one get it cut for you (B & Q charge 50p per cut after the first 5 which are free).

You will need:

  • 4 pieces of 4cm x 4cm lumber or 4cm by 3cm timber cut to the height you require
  • A top cut to the width you want your plinth to be,
  • 2 sides cut to the same width as your top and the same height as your 4 x 4

Now measure the thickness of your wood, ours was 9mm thick, so this meant that we needed:

  • 2 sides cut 18mm smaller than the width of our top piece (to allow for overlap) which were also the same height as our 4 x 4.

You will also need:

  • Screws long enough to go through the sides and the 4 x 4 ,
  • A decent battery powered drill and a good quality screw driver bit.
  • G clamps are desirable but we didn’t have any.
Quality drill and screws
Quality drill and screws

Step 2

Screw your pieces of 4 x 4 into your two slimmer sides (the ones where you have taken off your 9mm). To do this place your beams under your wood and clamp them with G clamps or get a friend to hold them.

Drilling into the sides with the lumber underneath
Drilling into the sides with the lumber underneath

You can counter-sink your screws if you want a nice, professional finish (but we didn’t have time). Hold the screw on the wood and use a drill with a screwdriver bit to drive it in. Put at least 3 screws into each beam. When you turn them over they should look like the picture below.

The smaller sides with the lumber screwed on
The smaller sides with the lumber screwed on

Step 3

Place your 2 short sides opposite each other and hold or clamp one of your longer sides on top (use G clamps in the corners- or a helper).

Would be handy if you had G clamps
Would be handy if you had G clamps
Definitely handy if you had G clamps
Definitely handy if you had G clamps

Screw them together making sure your screw goes into your 4 x 4.plinth 7

Step 4

Carefully turn your plinth over (it won’t be fully stable until you screw the final side on).

The plinth, turned over
The plinth, turned over

Then place your remaining long side on top. Screw the side into the 4 x 4.

Adding the final side to the plinth
Adding the final side to the plinth
How it looks when all sides are screwed on
How it looks when all sides are screwed on

Step 5

Turn your plinth upright and screw your top on (apologies we didn’t take a photo of this step)

Step 6

Paint your plinths for this you will need a roller and a brush (for the edges). You will need to do two coats.

Almost finished- the plinths in the studio
Almost finished- the plinths in the studio

This is how they looked when we had finished them.

Handy tip: you can use filler to block in any gaps in between your sides (if your drilling is not up to scratch).

Finished- the plinths in situ
Finished- the plinths in situ

This article originally appeared on Emily Watkin’s artist site, reproduced here with kind permission