Building Some Chevalets, a Class Action #1: Wood Gloat and a Little Glueing

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 07-18-2015 02:38 AM 2386 reads 2 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building Some Chevalets, a Class Action series Part 2: Making Hand Tools with Power Tools »

OK, I’m a little impulsive but I work quickly so maybe I can pull this off. I’m showing my jewellery box at the Sooke Fine Art Show in a week and will be doing four hours of chevalet / marquetry demos there as well. When I have done this in the past I have always had inquiries about classes which I have always put off because a) I didn’t feel I was good enough or experienced enough to teach marquetry and b) because to teach this kind of marquetry to a class of more than one I would need more chevalets.

To point a) above, the jewellery box has changed my perception of my abilities and I now feel that I have something to give in terms of basic introductory marquetry as practised on the chevalet.

To point b) above ….... How hard can it be to build a few more chevalets?

Fast forward to last night when, cruising the “Used Cowichan Valley” listings I spotted an ad for some “sweet” full dimension, rough Douglas Fir in 2×6, 2×8, and 2×10 …...... for a buck (Canadian buck) / fbm. I figured that if I bought twice what I needed I would be able to get the pieces I needed if it wasn’t too bad.

I’ll let you be the judge. This is the load I picked up this morning. It is just over 300 fbm and cost me $300.
It is almost all edge grain and has large clear areas with only small tight knots elsewhere.

This is the first board off the top after a quick run through the planer. It is still 1 7/8”” thick.

After about an hour’s work, I had the pieces cut for four bases, four columns and four face plates. There was very little waste. This only used up two 2×8’s and two 2×6’s (10 footers)

When I quit for the day I had about two and a quarter hours in and had the column halves and base halves glued up as well as the face plates completely dadoed. ....... (Yes, I know. Some of you will be on my case for using pva glue but it’s cheap and I don’t need any of the special qualities of my preferred hide glues.)

My hope is to have these finished in time to conduct a class or two before I go back to Az for the winter. Actually I would like to have one on display at my demo next Saturday. Who knows maybe no one will even ask this year…..

Thanks for looking


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

25 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23759 posts in 3712 days

#1 posted 07-18-2015 02:46 AM

Good start on them , Paul. I think you would be an excellent teacher of marquetry!! I’ll bet you make it!!


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

View peteg's profile


4435 posts in 3429 days

#2 posted 07-18-2015 02:53 AM

Come on Paul you just love it pushing yourself to the max :) looks like you’re well into it already.
Lucky buggers in your class, they will certainly learn from a master, good luck ,hey what about a few pics of the class in action
cheers mate

I still have those fabulous set of coasters you sent me a while back, couple of beer stains on them now :)

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Jerry's profile


3312 posts in 2254 days

#3 posted 07-18-2015 03:07 AM

Paul, I Think you are missing a great opportunity here. Why not make the first part of your class on how to make the chevalet. You could have each one of your students make their own chevalet, and then in classes further on down the line show them how to use it.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3449 days

#4 posted 07-18-2015 03:07 AM


Nice fir! PVA or Hyde glue. HMMM. to build the tools. Great choice. I’m glad to see Murphy has left your building. Go be a good teacher, You have done so with us.

Knock their socks off! LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Don2Laughs's profile


82 posts in 4040 days

#5 posted 07-18-2015 03:31 AM

I admire you very much for this….and I bet Patrick is thrilled to hear your enthusiasm for sharing what you’ve learned.

good luck,

-- Don in Mountain City. Texas

View waho6o9's profile


8812 posts in 3183 days

#6 posted 07-18-2015 04:16 AM

You’re awesome Paul and the students will appreciate it!

Looking forward to the rest of the build.

View Boxguy's profile


2864 posts in 2874 days

#7 posted 07-18-2015 04:27 AM

Paul, this may not help, but I have found that this method works for me when I am teaching others to build boxes. It was part of a post I did. With multiple tools, this method of teaching should scale up to 3 or 4 students.

This was the first box Thomas made. When I give boxing lessons, I make a box and the learner makes a box. As I make my box and take it through each of the nearly 100 steps of construction, the learner goes through the same steps on his box right behind me. As you can see from the picture above Thomas did careful work. His corner splines are fit snugly and the top is jointed seamlessly. The art work was done first and we taped over that to protect it as we went through the various construction steps. When we were ready for the final sanding and finishing steps he took the tape off.

Focus: I enjoy teaching others to make boxes. I do the construction step and explain what I am doing, and the student follows behind and does that same step on his box. Using this “I make a box, you make a box” teaching technique has several advantages. The main one is that the student actually makes his box rather than just watching me make his box. Another advantage is that when we finish we each have a box to show for the process. I have a box I can sell and the student has a box he can use. I recommend this teaching method as a way you in Lumberland could teach woodworking to others. Thomas is at ease around tools and is a careful craftsman, so his resulting box is a great job.

Hint: It is really useful for teaching and for students if you have an exact, finished prototype of what you are making. Seeing the finished product in stages or as a whole will help them understand the process much better. Think of how Norm Abrims did his teaching. He first showed us what he was making and then took us through the steps…referring back to the prototype when he thought it would help explain the process.

I would recommend you keep the first class lock-step and have everyone create the same simple product. They can do their own thing later once they have the skills and techniques mastered.

Suggestion: Offer to sell them the chevalets after the class is finished, or teach a class on how to make one. Sell them the other jigs or offer a class on making them. There may be more money in selling the tools than teaching the class if profit is a motive for you.

If you have questions…ask.

-- Big Al in IN

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10864 posts in 4658 days

#8 posted 07-18-2015 04:48 AM

Nice going, Paul!

You will make them & people will enjoy them.

They will be happy…

You will be happy…

Have a great time!

Thank you for giving us the progress reports…

Take care,

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

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3979 days

#9 posted 07-18-2015 05:06 AM

Good going, Paul. If anyone can pull this off it is you. Keep us posted on your progress.


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

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3767 days

#10 posted 07-18-2015 05:48 AM

You always make quick progress. I think having one at the show will spark more interest than before. I hope you do well with you teaching. I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I do. I just finished up a class yesterday. All six students were very happy. It gives me great satisfaction to pass on a skill to someone else. I think you’ll have much the same result. I wish you well in your endeavor.

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18784 posts in 4282 days

#11 posted 07-18-2015 06:32 AM

Admirable and ambitious project Paul. I’m sure you will have many students pounding on your door ;-)

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

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#12 posted 07-18-2015 01:00 PM

This tremendous effort on your part to enable you to teach marquetry to others and to spread the word is very admirable Paul. You have already done so much, not only to get others interested (myself included), but you have also made it possible for many of us to make our own Chevalets and mentored us with your marquetry blogs and personal advice. I know you will make a great success of this as I don’t think failure is an option for you, whatever the undertaking. I would be the first to sign up if your place was within my reach. I know you are not doing this for the money and that makes it even better and more noble. I’m not going to wish you luck with this project as I am convinced you don’t need it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View kiefer's profile


5713 posts in 3273 days

#13 posted 07-18-2015 01:16 PM

Go Go Go Paul
Not wasting time on this I see and I know you will have these Chevys ready in time .
It’s nice to see you being so passionate about marquetry and I admire you making this super effort to teach others this fine craft .


-- Kiefer

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4586 days

#14 posted 07-18-2015 01:43 PM


Looks like you’re having fun Paul!

Always a pleasure watching what you’re up to.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3909 days

#15 posted 07-18-2015 02:16 PM

this isa great adventure, i can see this, you will become an Icon in your area and the Art of MARQUETRY will spread throughout the land , it’s a great idea, word will spread and folks will be eager for you to get back, i look forward to this and know it will take off…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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