Last Sunday I got back from San Diego, and in little bits of spare time I’ve been reviewing what I learned in the Marquetry class. I learned a lot, not the least of which is that getting to the point where I can do marquetry well enough to incorporate in furniture is going to take a bit of practice.
It’s a bit of a detour from the Arts & Crafts furniture that I am caught up in making, but I’ve decided I want to be able to do a credible job at this so I’ve started building a marquetry Chevalet. The “61 Chevy” is a reference to that, a 61 cm working height Chevalet. The one below isn’t mine of course, but it’s essentially what mine should look like. If you’re not familiar with how the tool works, it’s pretty simple. The marquetry packet is held in the vertical jaws with a foot operated clamp, and the saw slides back and forth on a gimbal mechanism that ensures the blade is always square to the face of the packet. The operator is responsible for guiding the saw along the curve, rotating the packet.
The first order of business was lumber – I’m not building a piece of furniture and was trying to find a balance between something stable and something cheap. The cheapest option would be home center construction lumber, but it’s so green that I didn’t dare use it to build something like this. I priced out white oak, at around $6/bf it would have been a little pricer than I wanted. I tried another place, remembering they had a lot of stock in kiln-dried vertical grain Douglass Fir — but I was shocked to find that it was almost $7/bf. But in a nice turn of events they had 8/4 Sapele “narrows” for about $4.50/bf. These are 4″ to 6″ wide, left from one of their big commercial customers picks through each lot of 8/4 lumber and rejects anything narrower than 6″. It’s hard, heavy and quarter sawn. I ended up getting about 35 board feet, hopefully enough…
Back in the shop I taped up the plans I got from Patrick Edwards. Generally I don’t like to build from full scale plans like this because there just isn’t room in my shop. Luckily I haven’t built the cabinets and racks I plan to yet.
I started by milling up stock for the front upright assembly. Generally this breaks down into three or four projects, the upright, the saw frame, the saw support and the seat assembly. I milled the wood for the upright, glued it to get the thickness I needed, squared it up and started on the joinery. I’m in a hurry to get this done, but it’s going to take me several weeks to get the tool built.