Making my own super-lightweight pochade box

The finished project, more or less.
Last month Johanne Morin and I painted together at Kaaterskill Falls. She had an efficient, lightweight easel, and her pack was so easy to manage that I begged her for information on how to make one for myself.
The primary parts of Johanne’s easel are a Saunders 10519 Recycled Aluminum Snapak Form Holder and a Promaster T525P carbon-fiber tripod. I purchased the former from Amazon and the latter from eBay. Johanne also used a pochade-box mounting plate from Guerrilla Painter but since I didn’t have time to track it down, I improvised with a block of hard red oak.
I’m not experienced working with aluminum, but my brother Robert was in town yesterday. He helped me assemble the easel. This is how we did it:
This is what the Saunders 10519 Recycled Aluminum Snapak Form Holder looks like when it arrives.
We used a pair of pliers to remove the pin holding the long aluminum inside cover.
The other extraneous piece, inside the box, is best cut off because it shares a pin with the main hinge. Here we used a Dremel with a cut-off wheel.
The female flange adapter for the tripod was countersunk with a 1″ bit.
Then the hole was drilled and the piece cut down to size.
Countersunk and glued.
Pilot holes drilled through aluminum and oak.
The wooden block was dimpled with a drill to accommodate the screwheads. But here the flange is on the wrong side. If the collar faces the aluminum, screwing it tight on the easel locks the whole assembly. (We realized it and turned it over.)
Don’t have a die to countersink the aluminum? Use one of those stupid screwdriver bits that came in a kitone you’ll never, ever use.
After we screwed the base plate in place, we needed to put a wire holders on the left in lieu of a support hinge. I have a gazillion d-rings for picture frames, so we used those, and popped them in place with a riveter.
Works just fine, and picture-hanging wire is great for holding it open, but I hate that glare.
So I masked and sprayed the inside of the box with red primer.

On the left, my current lightweight wooden pochade box and on the right, this aluminum box. No contest!

My investment for this project:

Used Promaster T525P carbon-fiber tripod: $163.43 on eBay.
Saunders 10519 Recycled Aluminum Snapak Form Holder: $35.27 on Amazon.
Female flange adaptor from my local hardware store: 75¢
Four 6X½ flathead screws: 44¢
One 27/64 drill bit: $9.88.

Tomorrow: how it works.

Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.