Everyman's Chevalet, Simple, Inexpensive, and Elegant

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Project by shipwright posted 07-19-2016 12:10 AM 2809 views 16 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project developed from a desire on my part to make the chevalet more accessible to my students. There isn’t much point in learning French marquetry if you don’t have the tools to continue when you leave class. To this end I designed this one to be well within the abilities of an average woodworker and built of easily found materials at an affordable price.

The interlaid plywood construction is arguably superior to solid wood with sophisticated joinery and the resulting structure is immensely strong and rigid, yet it can be done with little more than a table saw, bandsaw, (or jigsaw) drill, and a router. To make things even easier I am now having the pieces cut by a local CNC shop complete with precision alignment holes.

There may be some who see a CNC cut plywood chevalet as some kind of heresy but in my mind if I can give my students a precision tool to make their marquetry with at a price that will encourage them to go on in the field, then I don’t care how it came into being.

Another new twist I came up with is the idea of making the saw frame of three layers instead of solid wood with difficult finger joints at its corners. This simplifies the construction immensely and also allows the square hole for the blade clamp to be foolproof. As the middle layer of the frame is 3/8” thick, the square hole needs not be “cut” but can just be left out of the layer assuring absolute squareness to the centreline of the saw frame.

This one was built by one of my students, Kendra and her husband with guidance and a little help from me and it took (to build the functioning plywood chevalet in photo 4 above) about the same 40 hours that it always seems to take but then Kendra went the final step and hammer veneered it with some nice mahogany and finished it up beautifully. Needless to say that added several hours but the resulting chevy is a knockout!

Thanks for looking.


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

37 comments so far

View Woodbridge's profile


3451 posts in 1842 days

#1 posted 07-19-2016 12:31 AM

hi Paul, You are the Henry Ford of marquetry. Everyone should be able to afford to build and own a Chevalet! My new shop (and the attached house) are coming along nicely. I’m looking forward to getting the sh op finished so that I can get to building my own chevalet and getting out to B.C. to learn how to use it.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Eyal's profile


82 posts in 991 days

#2 posted 07-19-2016 12:39 AM

Hello paul,
I really like the idea of a cnc machined chevalet and agree with your idea on making the tool more accessible to the student.
Its a beautiful looking shevalet too.

View tinnman65's profile


1293 posts in 2838 days

#3 posted 07-19-2016 12:48 AM

Fantastic Paul! You would never know it was plywood under that beautiful mahogany veneer. Great idea for the saw frame, much more simple to build.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2091 days

#4 posted 07-19-2016 12:57 AM

It’s done and beautiful.
Good and easy design to the last detail .
The only thing that I would have to have is a more comfortable seat .


-- Kiefer

View Druid's profile


1236 posts in 2220 days

#5 posted 07-19-2016 12:59 AM

Beautiful job by you and Kendra. I guess it’s safe to assume that she’ll be putting a lot of hours on that Chevalet once she gets in home. Needs a place to show it off . . . like the middle of her living room?
Waiting to see her projects being posted.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9331 posts in 3476 days

#6 posted 07-19-2016 01:00 AM

Great work!

Great Inspiration…

You’re off & running…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View mousejockey's profile


41 posts in 2367 days

#7 posted 07-19-2016 01:49 AM

Very cool, I assume you selling the parts or referring people to the CNC guy? That’s got to be extremely stable and like you said makes it accessible to many more people.
Good job.

View DocSavage45's profile


7660 posts in 2267 days

#8 posted 07-19-2016 01:54 AM

You’ve brought the ancient art of Marquetry to the 21st century! cnc and all. Great Job!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View rance's profile


4243 posts in 2585 days

#9 posted 07-19-2016 02:20 AM

Paul, this project shows it being posted 07-19-2016 12:10 AM. I’m still at 10:18pm on the 18th. “Back To The Future!”. Ha ha.

Very well done on the Chevy. I particularly like the contrasting woods as it were. Nice to be able to enable your students. Keep it up.


-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Celticscroller's profile


1206 posts in 1497 days

#10 posted 07-19-2016 02:36 AM

I can see Kendra spending many hours at the beautiful Chevalet. Looking forward to seeing some of the work she produces. Once I master marquetry using my scroll saw, maybe, I’ll progress to a Chevalet. Still very much a newbie at marquetry.

-- Anna

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3100 days

#11 posted 07-19-2016 07:00 AM

Awesome work you do Paul and a great benefit to those who do marquetry.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

917 posts in 1737 days

#12 posted 07-19-2016 08:08 AM

Great piece of work. Is there no end to your ingenuity?
Plywood laminations provide great strength without too much weight and having the major parts CNC cut ensures accuracy throughout. To make it even more cost effective I guess you could use construction ply instead of Baltic Birch as any voids in the ply would be hidden from sight by the veneering after assembly.

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

View jim65's profile


800 posts in 1357 days

#13 posted 07-19-2016 08:18 AM

Beautiful! Really like it! well done!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16822 posts in 2530 days

#14 posted 07-19-2016 12:21 PM

WOW, that is beautiful all dressed up!!


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

View mousejockey's profile


41 posts in 2367 days

#15 posted 07-19-2016 12:46 PM

And please congratulate the lady on her veneer work, it looks great.


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