20 Steps to a Checker Board... a beginners guide

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Blog entry by Demowen posted 10-17-2009 04:57 AM 2238 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am currently finishing an education class so that I can teach Technology Education (shop class). My last assignment was to create a project that checks for the understanding of the previous lessons. I chose to do my lessons on shop tool safety and usage so it only fits to do a project to show off those new safety skills.

I know you all are experts here ;) so I thought you might enjoy picking this apart! I created a simple project that uses the majority of common shop power tools. Here it goes…

Assessment Project You (the student) will build a checkers board with checkers pieces to demonstrate you knowledge of tool safety and procedures. Follow the procedure list below in order to create your checkerboard.

1. Crosscut two 4 ½” wide rough boards 36” on the Radial arm saw. Make sure that the boards are of two contrasting species (oak and walnut, purpleheart and yellowheart). Use any two that you choose but make sure that they contrast one another well. These will be boards A and B.

2. Using the Radial arm saw, crosscut a 4 ½” wide rough board to 40” long using the Radial arm saw. This part is for the border, you may use any species you like. This will be board C.

3. Joint two perpendicular surfaces on each board.

4. Plane the material to 7/8” using the thickness planer.

5. Rip parts A, B and C to 2” wide on the table saw. You should now have 2 of each piece.

6. Crosscut parts A and B in half using the miter saw. You should now have 8 pieces 2” by 18”. (excluding part C)

7. Align all 8 pieces of parts A and B parallel to one another. Be sure to alternate the species every other. Glue and clamp these parts together. Be sure to clean up excess glue once it has filmed over and easily peels off. Wait at least 30 minutes before removing clamps and at least 24 hours before machining. This is now part A/B

8. Once the glue up is cured, scrape off any missed excess glue. Flatten the board with the jointer and planer where necessary. sure to put part C through so that it is the same thickness as part A/B.

9. Using the Radial Arm Saw, or the Table Saw with a crosscut sled, crosscut part A/B into 8- 2” strips.

10. Align the strips parallel to one another, flipping each strip to create a checkerboard pattern. You may wish to use the biscuit jointer or doweling jig to assure proper corner alignment. Glue and clamp as in step #7.

11. Repeat step #8 making sure that the grain is facing the correct direction. If a large drum sander is available, this machine is best. A hand plane is a possible alternative to flattening the checker board.

12. Now that the center checkerboard is complete, it is time to create the border with parts C. Crosscut the two C parts from 40” to 18” and 16”. (two 18” and two 16”, AKA C1 and C2)

13. Using a dado stack in the table saw, create a tenon on both ends of part C1 that is 1” and ¼” thick. Only cut the top and bottom. Do not cut the sides!

14. Use the router table with a ¼” straight bit to create a groove on parts C2 that spans 2 1/8” from the ends and is 1” deep. These grooves should be centered and on the same edge. These are the grooves that accept the tenons from C1.

15. Glue and clamp parts C1 to the sides of part A/B so that the grain is parallel.

16. Slip parts C2 onto the checker board so that they are perpendicular to the grain. Drill two ¼” holes over top of each tenon spaced 1” apart and 1/2” from the edge of C2.

17. Remove part C2 and widen the dill holes using a 5/16” bit so that the ends allow for wood movement.

18. Place a small amount of glue on the center, as well as the drilled holes of parts C2. Slide over the tenons and fill the holes with a ¼” dowel. Cut the dowels flush to the surface.

19. Route a decorative edge on the frame of the checker board.

20. Sand, sand and sand again up to 180 grit or higher. Apple a few coats of shellac, polyurethane or another clear coat to finish the checker board.

Instructor’s note:
Almost every tool is replaceable with another tool. The radial arm saw specifically may be replaced by the table saw with a cross cutting sled.

Remember… IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS….. ASK! It is always better to ask first than to have to apologize later, especially when it comes to being able to count with 10 fingers!

The student will be graded upon their effort and determination, safety, accuracy, shop clean up and attitude during this project. Each of the 5 sections are worth 20 points.

What do you think? Would you have added anything? Would you have taken anything away? Was it clear? Don’t worry, I already submitted it so you don’t need to worry about helping me cheat :). if anyone decides that they want to make one of these simple checker boards let me see the finished product. Thanks and enjoy!

-- Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

7 comments so far

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4555 days

#1 posted 10-17-2009 05:32 AM

now add photos to go with each lesson…and you have a great lesson plan…you could even do that on here and then you have a great demo lesson plan for the class you are taking…

I have been teaching 12 years…good luck…enjoy.

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Demowen's profile


121 posts in 3875 days

#2 posted 10-17-2009 05:45 AM

Photos would be wonderful, only I just made this up. I’ll re-post if I make it. Any tips from one so experienced?

-- Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

View lew's profile


12840 posts in 4233 days

#3 posted 10-17-2009 06:15 AM

You might add a list of materials/supplies needed to do the project. Also, some general safety rules- safety glasses, power machines. A diagram showing the completed project with the pieces labeled as referenced in your steps.

Sorry, taught vocational education for 33 years and have substituted for 6 more. Force of habit.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Demowen's profile


121 posts in 3875 days

#4 posted 10-17-2009 06:24 AM

That is some mighty fine advice Lew. Perhaps I should have included the lesson plans prior to this. They were all about safety and this is a “safe test” for them to excercise while I have the eagle eye on them :). How did you jump into the projects after the safety lessons?

-- Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 4193 days

#5 posted 10-17-2009 06:58 AM

I to am a shop teacher of 11 years. Although I have not completed this project personally, I have seen the project done by other teachers i have worked with. To be honest I am a little confused about step 12. As others were saying, photos help. However this year I am using sketchup and the scene feature to create exploded views and detail drawings to demonstrate each step. The biggest question I get is “what do I do next?” Even if you demo it at the beginning of class.

I have taught anywhere from 6th grade to 12th grade. The biggest thing I can offer for beginning students is to only let them build projects that you have personally built, maybe even more than once yourself. Students make mistakes, not intentionally, but they have no idea of what they have done or how they got to that point. You have to be able to identify within a second or two, what went wrong, and how to fix it.

The sad thing, is I average 1 1/2 min with every student each day. I tell them this. Most questions take 5-10 min. There is no way I can help everybody everyday. Pay attention to the demos, ask each other, but if in doubt ask me.

I spend about a month on safety for the advanced students, about 2 months for beginning. PM me and I can send you some of my stuff. I am way overboard when it comes to safety, but I also cover operation. check out some of my videos and blogs here on LJ. Also check out foxhighshop on youtube. I am posting makeup demos for students that are absent.

For each tool, I have created a 50 question multiple choice test. The students must score 43 and then correct by writing out sentences to 50 correct. The students grumble a bit, but the tradeoff is the tests generally result in good grades for the kids. And at the end I can honestly say I am comfortable with most using the tools. I also then have a “skill test” where I have to watch the student use the tool each time until I give them the okay. It is one use usually on the drill and drill press, 2-3 times on the miter and radial, and every time on the table saw.

I also try to find a “school service” project if possible to get the kids feet wet before their own project. Last year we built bookshelves for the band to store sheet music on. This year we are making 100 picture frames for the fire evacuation maps.

Finally, Try not to require too many projects that there is only one choice. In my beginning years, the first year I did not offer a choice. If you offer even 2 or 3 choices, they kids are more likely to give their best, because they picked it, not that it was assgined and it isn’t something they even want.

This year I tried to let my 2nd year students pick their own projects. After 2 weeks of waiting for them to turn in plans, just today I told them Monday that would be giving them 3 choices to pick from if they didn’t have one. I was surprised how many said that they wanted one of my choices since they couldn’t decide.

But back to safety, I have been teaching 11 years, about an average of 125-150 kids per year. That means approximately 1500 kids have gone through my classroom. I do have some I remember, others I can remember if I see their face, and others I can’t even remember if they walked into me. I have only sent 4 to get stitches. One of the 4, I had to rely on the safety folder I kept in my drawer with each test copy in it. Once the 47 out of 50 on general safety and 45 out of 50 on the band saw was seen and that he didn’t have a setup check, which was a question on both tests, saved me a lot of litigation and hassel. It didn’t even leave the principals office. The other 3 incidents were kid reaching to grab scrap next to the blade, and most admitted they made a “stupid choice”

The biggest thing I can say is get the terminology “REASONABLE SUPERVISION” in your syllabus, and explain to admin that it is impossible to watch every kid every second and keep them all actively engaged unless they are going to provide you with at least a dozen of every tool, which is not practical. I have had this in for years, and it came into play last year and saved me. PM and I will tell you the story.

Hope this helps

View Demowen's profile


121 posts in 3875 days

#6 posted 10-18-2009 01:40 AM

Wow! Lots of info! I’ll have to re-read and process this but I’ll get back to you on a PM for sure. Thanks!

-- Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

View a1Jim's profile


117708 posts in 4055 days

#7 posted 10-18-2009 04:02 AM

wowThats a big list

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