Veneering a table top chess table #1: Making the Veneered surface

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Blog entry by Karson posted 06-15-2007 09:18 PM 13713 reads 20 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Veneering a table top chess table series Part 2: Putting the Apron on the chess surface »

The making of a chess board with veneer. Mark made a comment earlier this week about a chess board that was presented as a project, that he’d like to make one for his son.

I sent him a private message and suggested that if he wanted to make a chess board, that I’d provide the veneer and some instructions on making it. There have been other posts in the last couple of weeks about veneering and vacuum veneering.

Mark replied that he didn’t have the equipment to do the veneering. I told him that it could be done with items that he probably already has, and I think I shamed him into saying that he’d do it.

I sent him a private e-mail message that contained an address of some pictures on Flickr that I thought that he might like to consider. The address is here I must have had a brain freeze because in all of my communications with him and in starting to work on this blog I believed that there were 12 squares on a side instead of 8. So the measurements that I suggested are probably too small. A 2” square would make a board that is 16” X 16” without the apron. That is probably a normal size 2 ½” would make a 20” board on the playing surface.

So what to do. Get some veneers that could be used as the light squares and dark squares. They really don’t have to be white and black. Checker boards are Red and Black, but you don’t want something that confuses the players.

For my sample I selected Birds-Eye maple and Kingwood. I first trimmed off the edge of the Kingwood to get rid of the white edge.

My blog on veneering contained the tools that I use on cutting veneers. For this one I started using the chisel
But I found that the grain structure was waving back and forth across the cut line and I was getting chip outs on the edge. So I ended up using a veneer saw.

Trim off all of the one side so that you have a clean edge. Then sand the edge to make it straight and smooth

Then I cut the Birds-eye maple veneer, to the same width of the Kingwood.

In this case do as I say and not do as I do. Attach a stop block to your cutting board. My ruler was 2” wide and so you butt the veneer up to the stop block, Tape it down on the two edges to keep it from moving. Then you lay the ruler against the stop block so that when you cut, the veneer it is 2” wide, and as long as you need.

Cut 4 strips of dark veneer, and 5 strips of light veneer. Why you ask, I thought you’d never do it. I’ll show you in just a second. Lay the strips side by side, starting with the light strip

And continue until you have used all of your strips. Make sure that all of the strips have the grain in sequence from when it was cut

You will notice that the grain on the King wood is all the same, because these were 4 strips that were side-by-side in the flitch and I cut the same amount of wood off each of the strips. The birds’ eye maple has the same grain pattern on strips 1, 3 and 5 at the bottom. I was able to get 2 strips from each leaf of veneer. So strip 1 and 2 was from veneer leaf 1, and strip 3 & 4 was from veneer sheet 2, and strip 5 was from the 3rd veneer sheet. They are also lined up in the same position from top and bottom.

You now cut off one end, making sure that it is square.

Cutting across grain required a veneer saw, because a knife will cause the veneer to split.

Cut off a strip across all of the slices

I number the strip at the top with a 1 so that I can keep them in order.
You then cut all 8 strips.

They are all numbered from 1 to 8. You then turn them over

The next seven photos were destroyed. I turned off the camera before it finished storing the picture and the memory got corrupted. So I’ll simulate what I did, because at this point the sheet is all taped together as a full sheet.

Back with some more pictures.
You slide every other row to the right. Since you are looking at the back you want the white square to be on the lower left.

You then tape them in place. Taping every row.
You then turn it back over and put a run of tape down the cut rows.

You then peel off the dangling white squares. And turn it back over and take off the tape on the back

So you now have the taped board surface

So here is a picture of the completed surface for the full board and the redone ½ board

Remember at this time you are looking at the back so the white square is on the lower left. When you look at it on the taped side the white is on the lower right.

The next post will be attaching the aprons and gluing the chess surface to the substrate.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

8 comments so far

View mot's profile


4926 posts in 4492 days

#1 posted 06-15-2007 09:29 PM

Karson, Karson, Karson. I’m not worthy! What a great explanation, demonstration and outcome. Wow!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4616 days

#2 posted 06-15-2007 10:58 PM


-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4766 days

#3 posted 06-16-2007 12:06 AM

Thanks for the steps and your help, Karson. You’re the best!

-- Jesus is Lord!

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4553 days

#4 posted 06-16-2007 12:42 AM

Great info Karson. Thanks.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View HandsOgold's profile


95 posts in 4459 days

#5 posted 06-16-2007 05:02 AM

Ive always used a large paper cutter for making my two inch slices. Because I usually dont know what two woods ill be mating, i cut the strips into squares which can be arranged into the correct pattern when assembled. I do however love your technique and i guess its easy enough to select the woods initially and you are dealing with much fewer moving pieces, hence fewer chances for the expected screw-up.. thank you for showing me a new approach. On an esthetic point. I usually make the borders out of one of the center woods. It gives a certain consistency to the project. Of course, one can employ a third wood as its border, but it should be a very neutral wood with limited grain or mottle. This way the eye is drawn to the chessboard which is the central theme of the project. Your choice of eucalyptus might be a tad too “busy” and overshadow the central woods. Kingwood is too gorgeous to be upstaged by anything,

-- Dan

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4856 days

#6 posted 06-16-2007 05:05 AM

Dan I wish I had a large paper cutter. or a veneer cutter. They do a great job. Thanks for your in sites on focusing the eye unto what is important.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4341 days

#7 posted 04-09-2009 01:33 PM

Great post, thanks!!!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Ken90712's profile


17701 posts in 3644 days

#8 posted 08-14-2010 06:24 PM

Great info you provided us! Thx

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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