FANTASY MARQUETRY #6: Learning to drive my Chevalet

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Blog entry by stefang posted 08-27-2014 04:31 PM 2566 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Assembling the Packet (at last) Part 6 of FANTASY MARQUETRY series Part 7: Another Marquetry Process »

After getting the packet ready for sawing I put clear packing tape on the top and bottom, partly to lubricate the blade and more importantly to give a slick surface to slide well in my Chevalet clamp. Another advantage was to protect the paper design, as shown below.

After that the fun began. I drilled an entry hole in the hat band buckle which will be eliminated with a later cutting and put the cut out on the picture. It slid around a lot, so I cut a piece of transparent plastic shelf paper a little larger than my marquetry and taped it over the design with the sticky side up. Using this system means that I don’t have to number the parts as they are being assembled as I do the cutting (next time).

This makes it easy to temporarily fasten the cutouts so they won’t shift around and at the same time the adhesive is so weak that the delicate veneer comes right off when I want to remove it. A great way to keep track of all the parts during the cutting operation. All the other pieces, 6 layers of veneer/posterboard and the 1/8” plywood top and bottom are trash.

Here are the pieces I cut today and the original design so you can judge whether I am doing it justice. As you can see I missed the design line a little in a lot of places. There are some pieces where it is important to cut accurately to retain the integrity of the picture and then there are others that are more notional and therefore can be cut less accurately. I didn’t cut inaccurately on purpose, but I didn’t strain myself keeping to the line those places I deemed less important.

I know that the yellowish veneer I used for the beard looks almost blond. I would have preferred sycamore for the white parts, but I used what I had. I do have some 3/4” sycamore I harvested from my son’s tree. It’s dry now and I might be able to resaw it and get it thin enough in my drum sander if I feel that the present veneer will ruin the picture. We’ll see.

What went well
I’m still new to the saw, but after cutting small practice pieces I did feel a lot more comfortable and in control with the A4 size packet. The clamp worked great and the packet turned nicely as I sawed.

My accuracy could be better, but I feel that it went very well considering that I’m new to the Chevalet. I know that the cutting will get better with more experience.

I have also gotten a lot better at changing the blades.

I am very happy with the poster board wasters I used instead of veneer wasters. They worked perfectly and cut very nicely too.

What didn’t go so well
I had a lot of problems with the pattern coming loose at the edges, especially for the small detailed parts and that messed up my accuracy quite a bit, but nothing serious. I will try using scotch tape to refasten those areas when I resume sawing. shopping day tomorrow, so maybe working on it later in the day or Friday. I’m having fun, so I’m not really in a hurry.

I broke two blades. My third one is still ok and I am learning to be more careful, especially on tight sharp turns and when I stop cutting to put cut out pieces onto the design.

Missing details, how will these be added?
My intention from the start was to do this marquetry in two stages and with two separate packets. When the first packet is finished I plan to use the temporarily assembled first picture as one layer in a new packet which will be just for the purpose of adding details.

There are other ways this could be done and I will be considering them too, but I’m pretty sure it will be a second packet.

My own conclusions after today’s work
I am mainly relieved that it is going as expected or perhaps better than expected. I am also excited and happy that nothing has been screwed up so far. Thanks much for following with.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

16 comments so far

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3666 days

#1 posted 08-27-2014 05:27 PM

It is looking good so far!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3862 days

#2 posted 08-27-2014 05:40 PM

mike ,love that pic and looking forward to seeing it,i have been wanted to try this myself so thanks for sharing .awesome job

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 4044 days

#3 posted 08-27-2014 05:50 PM

Really well explained, and very interesting to follow your progress. I like the way that you are matching the grain to follow the “fabrics” in the design. Looks like you are enjoying creating what is becoming a great piece.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3561 days

#4 posted 08-27-2014 06:03 PM

This whole series has been most informative. Many thanks.

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

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#5 posted 08-27-2014 06:46 PM

Thanks Peter, Eddie, John and Jim I will try to do a shot of the packet in the chevalet next time. It’s not very exciting but is does add some context.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dutchy's profile


4194 posts in 3417 days

#6 posted 08-27-2014 06:56 PM

At five a clock I tought; Have a look at LJ if Mike is started. There was no news, but now at almost 21.00 hour look there is news.
Mike I read your story and I think I understand how it works. What I don,t understand why not use a jigsaw. I know you have one. What are the benefits of a chevalet? Maybe this will be clear to me in the future.
Thank you Mike for sharing and I,m glad for you that nothing has been screwed up!
Keep on going.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#7 posted 08-27-2014 07:19 PM

Hi Dutchy. The Chevalet is much easier to control than a scroll saw because you can saw at a pace suited to the complexity of the part you are sawing, whereas a scroll saw, even at minimal speed is much more difficult to handle and a lot of damage can be done quicker than you can get the machine turned off.

In spite of what I said above, it is possible to do this work with a scroll saw, and in fact, many well know marquetry masters use only scroll saws for their work. It has a lot to do with skill level and also dexterity. I did my first serious marquetry, my Chinese dragon, with my scroll saw and that went fine, but on the downside, it is very easy to mess up a cut very quickly because the blade doesn’t stop moving until the machine can be turned off. A foot pedal helps for that part.

On the whole I find that it’s a lot less stressful doing this with the Chevalet. That doesn’t mean I won’t still be using my scroll saw a lot for other types of projects.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


8753 posts in 4046 days

#8 posted 08-27-2014 07:36 PM

Looking great Mike.
If I may,....
You may find that packing tape creates a nasty sticky “sawdust” residue right where the blade enters the packet. You know, the spot where you are trying to see the line. Or maybe your packing tape doesn’t do that. That would be nice.

I’ve found that replacing the peel away cover on the shelf paper when you aren’t installing a piece makes the adhesive last longer. It seems to dry up otherwise. I used that method on my “Toscana” piece. It worked very well but keeping the sticky side covered helped a lot.

As far as line following is concerned, that’s why you are doing PIW. Relax and enjoy …... long smooth strokes …. before you know it you will be wanting a finer line and you will be cutting the outside half of it.

This is going to be a great “first piece”. Will it fit on the front of your arm clamp? :-)

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4552 days

#9 posted 08-27-2014 07:49 PM

im sure glad to see you doing well, yes you are having those moments since this is your first time on your chevy, but i have faith in you mike, i know this is going to turn out just fine..i see you have a small space heater in your shop, is it getting cool in there…if so send some down here, to hot here…:)

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

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

326 posts in 2735 days

#10 posted 08-27-2014 08:03 PM

Wow, I may find myself bitten by this bug! Thanks for sharing!

-- -Tim Royal -"Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#11 posted 08-27-2014 08:13 PM

Paul Thanks for the encouraging words. I won’t have room for this one on the front, but it’s just a few inches from the wall so nobody sees it anyway. I haven’t had any problems with sawdust, it blows away quite easily. Just having difficulties with the design coming loose along the edges. I have used masking tape around some of the pieces just before they are cut through all the way to prevent small pieces flying all over the place. That works well.

Bob Thanks for believing in me. I have the small heater now, but in a few days I am having a heat pump installed. It’s the one we bought 3 years ago. The fan whines a bit and I can hardly hear it, but my wife hears high pitched tones well beyond normal. It’s driving her crazy so we bought a new one for the house with only19 decibels and I get the old one. The heat pump is also a great air condition for hot days, so the best for all seasons and it will free up some shop space for me.

Revrok It is fun. I hope you will give it try.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sras's profile


6359 posts in 4377 days

#12 posted 08-28-2014 02:23 AM

Looking good Mike. I have no skills in this area, so I’m just having fun watching.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 5018 days

#13 posted 08-28-2014 03:05 AM

Enjoying reading your experiences with your marquetry and learning something too. Looks like your having fun.

-- Tom D

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4582 days

#14 posted 08-28-2014 07:56 AM

Thanks Steve and Tom Yes, I’m definitely enjoying this work. Besides being fun to do it is a very clean, virtually dust free and not messy and the best part is the lack of large cutoffs. The waste almost fits into a tea cup! A refreshing change from my general woodworking projects.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4052 days

#15 posted 08-31-2014 12:44 PM

Coming along very nicely Mike.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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