Chevalet Build #7: Tuning up the Chevy

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 01-05-2014 01:46 AM 2298 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Saw Frame Part 7 of Chevalet Build series Part 8: Mobility »

This final blog post is a little overdue. I finished the Chevalet build a little over a week ago, but I ran into some issues getting it to cut properly. Yesterday I found the root of my problem and today I finished up the final tuning.

When I was first starting to tune the Chevalet, I was having have an issue with it cutting straight. I thought maybe the blade clamps might be twisted a bit, so I thought I would give them a little twist to straighten them up. Well I was a little too firm in my twisting and cracked one of the mounts.

Luckily I was able to fix the crack with some Epoxy. It seems to be holding well. You might notice the repaired crack in some of the other pictures.

As I started to cut some keyhole tests and I quickly maxed out the Vertical Adjustment, before achieving a satisfactory cut. I racked my brain trying to find the problem. I decided to post my issue over on Patrick's Forum. I got a lot good information on what to look for. Patrick was right on, when he talked about how the saw frame needed to be square and horizontal. No matter how I checked for this, I seemed to be coming up “square”. Then it hit me, I wasn’t checking for “square” in relationship to the a “packet” being held in the jaws.

So, I clamped a square in the jaws, and eureka problem found! This is picture is with my Vertical Adjustment maxed out. I would need more adjustment room to get where I needed.

The root of the problem I think are a couple things. The plans for the Chevalet have the jaws tapered in thickness. This causes the “fixed” jaw face not to be parallel to the Main Post it’s attached to.

When I start to tune up the jaws, I really only focused on the “movable” jaw. This meant a packet being held in the jaws would reference off the “fixed” jaw, which wasn’t parallel to the Main Post. If in my initial tuning, I made the jaws parallel to the Main Post, I might have avoided this issue.

So to test my theory, I made a quick replacement jaw for the fixed jaw. It’s just a piece of plywood, but the clamping face is now parallel to the Main Post.

After this quick fix, it only took a few test cuts and adjustments to get a perfect cut!

Here’s another shot, that shows you can check for “squareness” to the face too.

After solving this problem, I made a new “nicer” fixed jaw. I started out with a “square” piece of wood. I left the top portion flat and square, then tapered the lower portion.

Now that I knew the fixed jaw was square and parallel to the Main Post, I could easily tune up the movable jaw in relation to it. I started by marking the face of the jaw, so I could see which area was being worked.

Then I attached some sandpaper to board and used that to work on the movable jaw. I lightly clamped the board in the jaws and moved it side to side and up & down. This actually worked really well.

I did one last test cut and adjustment. I have to say I cut a lot keyholes trying to solve my problem and went through a few pieces of wood. I started to grab some 1/2” plywood for my tests, and it turned out to have and added benefit.

After I thought I was where I needed to be. I took the test cut and split off the back layer. I then laid if over the front and checked how close I was. I was dead on, I couldn’t even feel a difference between the the two pieces.

Now it’s time to cut something for real! In preparation for this, I made up a couple trays to hold the pieces as I cut them. I think I might a few other supplies before I really get going, so I better get on that too!

14 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4044 days

#1 posted 01-05-2014 02:11 AM

Congratulations Mike. All of these little hiccups will soon be a distant memory.
Make up a few packets and just start cutting.
Let the fun begin.
I’ve been kept away from my chevy with other projects recently but this afternoon I made up some packets and tomorrow I too will be cutting. I may not sleep.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4966 days

#2 posted 01-05-2014 03:24 AM

You’re there! Congratulations, it looks great and I’m looking forward to seeing what you make.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3785 days

#3 posted 01-05-2014 04:02 AM

Great info on the build, thanks!

-- I never finish anyth

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 3720 days

#4 posted 01-05-2014 06:58 AM

Awesome. I cant wait to see what you come up with using it.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4580 days

#5 posted 01-06-2014 12:03 AM

Congratulations on finishing up your nice new chevy Mike. Have fun!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 5016 days

#6 posted 01-06-2014 04:09 AM

Now is the time to enjoy your new tool. Post your cuttings would like to see how they come out.

-- Tom D

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5360 days

#7 posted 01-06-2014 03:55 PM

Thanks everyone! I was a little down when I wasn’t getting the cut “quality” I wanted/needed, but now that I figured things out I can’t wait to start cutting. Sadly I have “family” things happening the next couple of weekends, so not much shop time for awhile. If I can get out and cut some veneer to practice with, after work some evening I start cutting in the evenings.

I’m also starting a Blacksmithing class next Sunday, which lasts 6 Sundays. So that is going to chew up some of my weekend shop time. My brother and I are doing the class together, so it should be a lot of fun!


View muthrie's profile


9 posts in 3814 days

#8 posted 01-07-2014 02:28 PM

Yipeee! Glad you finished it. And I can’t WAIT to see what you do with it.

-- Marilyn, Washington,

View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4044 days

#9 posted 01-07-2014 06:32 PM

If all you have is short bits of time here and there you can always get some veneer prepped and make up some packets. Have you made up any grease paper yet? That’s fun and only takes a few minutes.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5360 days

#10 posted 01-07-2014 06:36 PM

Paul – It was my plan to get some packets made up, so I could do some cutting in the evenings after work when I have time. I haven’t made up the grease paper yet, but I was looking into that. I was reviewing Pierre book on how to make up the grease paper. Do you use Suet or is there another alternative that can be used.


View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4044 days

#11 posted 01-08-2014 12:51 AM

I use making grease paper as an excuse to eat bacon. Bacon grease works very well and makes the shop smell good too. Amazingly it doesn’t ever seem to go rancid. Mine lasts forever in a zip lock bag. I make up about four or five pieces at a time using packing newsprint that I got from a house moving company. I only do it about once, maybe twice a year.

Occasionally you may find your dog eating the cutting scraps that miss the garbage can in the marquetry shop…. :-)

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5360 days

#12 posted 01-08-2014 01:38 AM

Forget the dog, I’d probably eat the paper before it got in the packet! Bacon grease wouldn’t be that hard to “make”, so that is an option. Have you ever tried just regular vegetable shortening? In cooking all those solid fats seem to have the same properties. Not sure if they are the same as a “lubricant”. I also found some newsprint on Amazon I’ll give a try.


View WPatrick's profile


38 posts in 3887 days

#13 posted 01-11-2014 05:44 PM

Parallel universes and great minds work simultaneously. After my experiences at Marc Adams this Fall, with all the chevys cutting off vertical, I took another look at my plans. The tapered fixed jaw idea came originally from Pierre Ramond’s blueprints in the book. I never questioned it, as my tools seemed to work fine, with minor adjustment.

However, when I returned from Marc Adams and discussed it with Patrice, he immediately pointed out that the fixed jaw should be parallel, not tapered, and vertical. It was like a light bulb went off in my dark hole of a skull.

I immediately redrew the blueprints. I also decided to make the blue prints on separate pages, not one long stupid roll. The only reason I made one roll was to save paper. I never considered the head aches I created.

Mike, congratulations for solving the problem I didn’t even know existed. You are right.

-- WPatrick, San Diego,

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5360 days

#14 posted 01-12-2014 01:54 AM

Thanks for the confirmation Patrick. Trying to solve this problem, I learned a lot about how the Chevalet works. Even though it might slowed me down, the understanding I gained is valuable. I’ll contact you or Patrice for the details you added to your plans, so I can update the SketchUp plans and get that to you.


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