Mahl Stick Alternative: Easy Solution For Artists

A mahl stick is a tool that many artists use to steady their hand while painting, particularly in oil painting.

However, there are times when a mahl stick may not available or useful for a particular project or situation.

DIY Mahl Stick Alternatives

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative to a mahl stick, there are a couple of options you can try.

Using a Long Wooden Dowel

This was my solution for over 30 years. The dowel only broke last year as my son used it to wedge a door open. The replacement was a quick trip to the hardware store. Total cost $3.

Otherwise, if you have a long wooden dowel lying around, you can use it as a makeshift mahl stick.

Simply wrap the end of the dowel with a soft cloth or sponge and secure it with a square of leather or vinyl and a rubber band or zip tie.

mahl stick alternative
What’s left of my trusty 30 year old mahl stick alternative

This will give you a cushioned surface to rest your hand against while you’re painting.

Keep in mind that the dowel should be long enough to reach across your canvas comfortably. You don’t want to be hunched over or stretching to reach the other side.

The I have two mahl stick sizes that I like. The first one is about 24 inches long and I consider it the small one where I can easily maneuver the stick and thus my rested hand around using my left hand.

The long one is about twice that length and a bit thicker and I can rest one end over my shoulder while I rest my wrist on the other end as I paint.

The thickness depends on how big or small you are.

When testing a piece of dowel as your mahl stick alternative, just hold one end while placing the other on a table and rest your arm on it.

If it bends too much or looks like it’s going to snap then find a thicker one.

It should be thick enough to not sag much if at all.

Using a Long Brush Handle

If you have a long brush handle, you can also use it as a mahl stick. Simply hold the brush handle in your non-dominant hand and rest it against your canvas.

This will give you a stable surface to rest your painting hand against.

Keep in mind that the brush handle should be long enough to reach across your canvas comfortably. You don’t want to be hunched over or stretching to reach the other side.

Additionally, make sure the brush handle isn’t too heavy or thick. You want it to be comfortable to hold for extended periods of time.

Overall, using a DIY mahl stick alternative can be a great way to save money while still getting the benefits of a stable painting surface.

Just make sure to choose a material that is comfortable to hold and long enough to reach across your canvas.

Improvised Mahl Stick Alternatives

When you’re in the middle of a painting and realize you need a mahl stick but don’t have one, don’t worry.

There are a few improvised alternatives you can use to stabilize your hand and create straight lines. Here are a couple of options:

Using a Ruler or a Straight Edge

If you have a ruler or a straight edge handy, you can use it as a makeshift mahl stick. Simply rest the ruler on the edge of your canvas or painting surface and hold onto it with your non-dominant hand.

This will help steady your dominant hand and create straight lines. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the ruler’s position as you move around your painting.

Using a large and long brush stick

I own paint brushes in a variety of sizes. When I my own mahl stick broke I tried using the larger piece of the broken one to rest my hand on but it was too short.

Lucky for me I have a large brush with a handle that is about 12 inches long which is long enough and strong enough to hold my hand’s weight and comfortable enough to finish the job.

Commercial Mahl Stick Alternatives

When it comes to painting, a mahl stick can be a helpful tool to steady your hand and improve your brushstrokes.

However, if you don’t have a mahl stick or prefer not to use one, there are some commercial alternatives that can be just as effective.

Using a Tripod or Monopod or Selfie Stick

If you have a tripod or monopod or selfie stick for your camera, you can use it as a makeshift mahl stick.

Simply extend the legs or pole and rest the end against your canvas or painting surface.

Hold onto the other end with your non-dominant hand to steady your brush hand.

This is a great option if you already have a tripod or monopod and don’t want to invest in a separate tool.

Using a Painter’s Pole

A painter’s pole is a long, extendable pole that can be used to reach high places when painting. However, it can also be used as a mahl stick alternative.

Simply extend the pole to a comfortable length and rest the end against your canvas or painting surface.

Hold onto the other end with your non-dominant hand to steady your brush hand. This is a good option if you need a longer reach than a traditional mahl stick can provide.

Overall, while a mahl stick can be a helpful tool for painters, there are commercial alternatives that can be just as effective.

Using a tripod or monopod and a painter’s pole are two options to consider if you don’t have a mahl stick or prefer not to use one.

Why You Would Use Alternatives to a Mahl Stick

Here are a few reasons why you might want to look for mahl stick alternatives:

You need more flexibility

A mahl stick is a long pole with a padded end that is used to support your hand while painting. This can be limiting in terms of the angles and positions that you can paint from.

If you need more flexibility in your painting technique, you may want to consider using an alternative tool that is stronger or more flexible when stabilizing your hand.

You want to try something new

To grow as an artist you need to embrace new things. While a mahl stick is a tried and true tool, there may be other reasons why you haven’t considered one yet. Trying out different tools can help you discover new techniques and approaches to your art.

You don’t have a mahl stick

Let’s face it, not everyone has a professional mahl stick on hand. If you find yourself in a situation where you need a tool to steady your hand while painting, but don’t have a mahl stick available, knowing some alternatives can be helpful.

Overall, there are many reasons why you might want to look for mahl stick alternatives. Whether you need more flexibility, want to try something new, or simply don’t have a mahl stick on hand, knowing your options can help you create the art that you envision.

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