Chevalet - rescued from the fire wood pile

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Project by Jim Rowe posted 10-21-2014 02:54 PM 3702 views 6 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have finally finished my chevalet! I used “Shipwright’s” aka Paul Miller’s excellent Sketch Up design with some tweaking to fit my available raw materials which were essentially pieces of an old oak doorframe that had been destined for the fire, supplemented by various off cuts I found.

I estimated that the wood could have been up to 150 years old based on the annual rings I counted and the likely time it had been in situ in whatever building it was used in.

The wood is as hard as nails and was very time consuming to work with some machine help, but mainly hand tools. In all it took more than a year to complete, but that included a move to a new house and a new workshop!

The build was done on a piecemeal basis by creating the various components and then finally assembling them as a completed whole. The thumbnail pictures show the finished article and some of the major components. The major components were oak but the saw frame was a pice of maple which had been lying around for a few years (it seems to be keeping stable and has not distorted so far) and some iroko in the slider mechanism. I made the blade locking mechanism by hand, learning a lot about metalwork and threading in the process. The knob on the saw frame is African Blackwood turned by an old friend as I do not have a lathe. Thanks Dennis.

Throughout the build process I have had enormous advice and encouragement from Paul and have also closely followed other builds on LJs. Many thanks.
Now I have to work out how to use this wonderful machine. While I am doing that I have as visible reminder by my side with these two drink mats that Paul gave me when he visited England last year.

Apologies for the pictures but I hope they give you enough detail. Any questions or comments will be much appreciated.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

16 comments so far

View sras's profile


4364 posts in 2553 days

#1 posted 10-21-2014 03:26 PM

Congrats on your build. I look forward to seeing what you can do with it!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View RogerBean's profile


1598 posts in 2378 days

#2 posted 10-21-2014 03:33 PM

Looks great, and you’re off to a fast start. Once the final blade alignment is done it’s pretty much trouble free. I’m sure you’re looking forward to some serious cutting. Great job.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8111 posts in 2853 days

#3 posted 10-21-2014 03:45 PM

One more congrats on a superb build.
I see the motor isn’t installed yet. :-)
And don’t forget the marqueter’s prayer mat.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View shipwright's profile


7096 posts in 2222 days

#4 posted 10-21-2014 03:58 PM

Welcome to the chevy club!

Congratulations on a fine looking build Jim. I’m glad I was able to help in some small way.
Meeting you and your good wife was certainly a high point in our last visit to England.
Now let’s see some marquetry …... :-)

Gene, I haven’t told him about the marqueteur’s prayer yet ......... but I think he’ll figure it out soon enough. :-)

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View ThumbHammer's profile


54 posts in 763 days

#5 posted 10-21-2014 04:44 PM

What is a chevalet? I see the image but I don’t know what it does. I looked up the definition and all I got was that it is the bridge of a stringed instrument. Confused at this point.

-- Are we all Square?

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 1851 days

#6 posted 10-21-2014 05:03 PM

Jim I am very impressed with the attention to detail you put into your chevvy, I’m a fence sitter I have the wood earmarked … but still have not pulled the trigger.

Well done on your build.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Dutchy's profile


1976 posts in 1592 days

#7 posted 10-21-2014 05:20 PM

More and more I like this tool. You build a beautiful chevy,

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

917 posts in 1736 days

#8 posted 10-21-2014 05:57 PM

Thanks for the positive comments from everyone. It was quite an undertaking for me to build this “machine for cutting marquetry” or a chevalet, but I think that it will give me plenty of use and enjoyment. If you have spare wood and some spare time I heartily recommend the exercise. Join a small and exclusive owners’ club. It will be worth the effort.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16822 posts in 2529 days

#9 posted 10-21-2014 08:10 PM

Very nice machine you have built. Now you are ready to go!! I’ll bet you made Paul proud….....Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View waho6o9's profile


7125 posts in 2001 days

#10 posted 10-21-2014 10:39 PM

Impressive work Jim. I too am looking forward to your

marquetry projects. Judging by this build you have a lot

more Top3’s in your future, good job.

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 1778 days

#11 posted 10-21-2014 11:05 PM

Nice looking Chevy—I’m in the middle of my own build.

-- Blog:

View jmartel's profile


6475 posts in 1574 days

#12 posted 10-21-2014 11:33 PM

Congratulations on finishing it. I will be building one as well, but who knows when that will happen.

What is a chevalet? I see the image but I don t know what it does. I looked up the definition and all I got was that it is the bridge of a stringed instrument. Confused at this point.

- ThumbHammer

Thumb, it’s a hand operated tool that is used to cut veneer for use in marquetry. The design is based off of a centuries old French tool, albeit it is modernized with a linear shaft and bearings for the saw frame to ride on. The operator sits on the back end of the tool, and operates a clamp with his feet while sawing back and forth to cut out the veneer.

Basically it’s a really large jig used to make very fine cuts at a perfect 90 degree angle (usually, though can be beveled for certain applications).

Look at LJ member Shipwright’s blog posts and project posts for more information.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4948 posts in 2571 days

#13 posted 10-21-2014 11:44 PM

Nice looking chevy—and nice save of that great old wood!

-- Dean

View hoss12992's profile


3814 posts in 1317 days

#14 posted 10-22-2014 02:45 PM

That is awesome. Shipwright is the man when it comes to the Chevalet. Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Brit's profile


6587 posts in 2267 days

#15 posted 10-26-2014 10:36 PM

Congrats on completing the build Jim. I can see that a lot of work went into that. You’ve done a fine job and I look forward to seeing the project you produce with it.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

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