How to Build a Chevalet From Scratch #3: Some Chevalet Modifications A New Friend

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 03-17-2011 12:45 AM 4991 reads 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Blade Clamps, Sliding Mechanism and Adjusters Part 3 of How to Build a Chevalet From Scratch series Part 4: Another Little Modification »

There are two stories here that can’t be separated from each other so I’ll tell them together. One is about the first modifications to the Chevalet after using it for several hours. The other is about making the acquaintance of the premier marquetry and chevalet master on this side of the ocean.

As our story begins; I was having a bit of an ethical struggle with myself about offering my (however humble) Sketch Up chevalet plans publicly for free when there is someone out there selling them. Just because I’m retired and don’t need to make money from this is no reason that I should be allowed to undermine someone’s business. (IMHO)

So I decided to email Patrick Edwards and ask him if he would have objections. He replied almost immediately and told me that I could make them as public as I wished with his blessing. His goal is to make North Americans more aware of the chevalet and it’s unique abilities and he sees my project as a way for DIYers to get into the art at a more affordable cost. He also commented on the photo link I sent him and gave me tips on how to improve my design. What an impressive man.

I have since spoken to him on the phone when he again had time for me and offered more advice. I will definitely be scheduling a week at his school next winter when I’m back down here (AZ). All he asked was that I mention his American School of French Marquetry as a place where those who choose to build from my plans might learn how to get the most out of their chevalets. Did I mention I was impressed?

On to the modifications. From the beginning I had planned to add a seat on the bench, both because the bench is a little narrow and because I wanted to make the chevalet as adjustable as possible. I built the bench at the lowest that I thought might work and planned on adding the seat to come to the height I thought would be right for me. The option is still there to shim the seat even more.

This is not a cheap dog house. It’s my Q&D dust collector for the seat shaping.

Here’s the seat shaped and with it’s first coat of BLO. When I resawed the piece to glue up the blank for this I found a spike knot that was crying to be the defining shape of the back of the seat. .. Well I like it anyway.

This is the chevalet with the new seat in place. It raises the sitting position by 1 3/4” so the main arm is also raised 1 3/4” by moving shims and the new clamp jaws that Patrick suggested are also the same amount higher.

On Patrick’s recommendation I made the new clamp jaws thinner, with a much smaller birds mouth and sanded away part of the moving jaw so that only the area immediately around the notch is is contact with the veneer package.

If you look closely at this one you should see that the jaws only touch near the notch.

The Sketch Up plans are now finished. I will post them as a forum topic under Tools and Accessories. If you want to build one, please contact me and I will be happy to help you size it to suit your body. Not many will want to set theirs up at my exact final dimensions. I’m 6’4” tall. I also have lots of photos and will share them as well.

As always, comments critiques and questions are encouraged.


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

11 comments so far

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3397 days

#1 posted 03-17-2011 01:20 AM

Well, Shipwright, that thing looks great. I checked this post out because I had no idea what a Chevalet was. It looks like you did one heck of a job putting this together. The seat looks good to me too. Now I have to go do some Google work because I still don’t know…

thanks for posting,

-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4101 days

#2 posted 03-17-2011 01:54 AM

Awesome! Thanks for posting all this stuff!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3042 days

#3 posted 03-17-2011 03:25 AM

Ahhh! That seat is more like what I was expecting to see the first time I saw your project! Looks comfy and I think one could sit on it for hours! This looks like a very worthwhile project to undertake for anyone interested in marquetry.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3241 posts in 3736 days

#4 posted 03-17-2011 05:41 AM


This is such a great project! You are being so thorough. It’s a pity the internet wasn’t around 40 years ago when I could have had a few more years to work on such things. My to-do list is too long to start still another project, but if I live to be 100 and get all my projects completed, I’d sure love to make one of these and try marquetry.

Thanks for sharing all your expertise so freely! It really is fascinating.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2912 days

#5 posted 03-17-2011 12:31 PM

Looks much more comfortable than the previous seat did.

I wonder how you would do beveled cuts on this, or even if you can? You know, for the interlocking pieces.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2822 days

#6 posted 03-17-2011 12:57 PM

Paul, If you mean double bevel cutting, I asked Patrick about that. As I had previously suspected, It is not generally meant to be used for double bevel cutting but rather for boulle and classic styles only. What is interesting is that on rare occasions it is done by employing angled clamp jaws.

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

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2912 days

#7 posted 03-17-2011 09:18 PM

Hi Paul.

I sort of figured it was that, or a couple of slanted cauls attached to the jaws.

I’m a rank newby to marquetry and lean towards the parquetry end of the craft rather than the “birds and flowerrs” things, I love Boulle’s work, but for the quality and artistry rather than as something I’d want to make or to own. Irish Celtic knot work is a favorite of my wife’s, so guess what my next project or six will be? (grin)

the one in Winnipeg

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3139 days

#8 posted 03-18-2011 12:11 AM

thank´s for sharing Paul

takle care

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 3854 days

#9 posted 03-18-2011 03:54 AM

That seat looks much more comfortable Paul. Great to hear that Patrick Edwards was so encouraging and helpful. From reading his blog you can’t help but think he is a class act!

Looking forward to seeing some of the marquetry you are going to cut with this Paul!


-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3241 posts in 3736 days

#10 posted 03-18-2011 04:17 AM


It takes a very considerate and thoughtful person to think about asking Patrick Edwards if he would object to you posting your plans for free. I agree with Mat that Patrick showed the kind of person he is by being so cordial and helpful.

There are many woodworkers we have met through LumberJocks that show that woodworkers are a step above! Thanks for sharing your story, (as well as your plans).


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2912 days

#11 posted 03-18-2011 04:27 AM

Hi Paul.

I agree with the rest of the group. Patrick sounds like a real class act, like so many wood workers I’ve met on the wood sites I take part in. If they are a representation of the average, I can see why the Lord chose one to foster His Son.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

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