chess board and frame - lesson learned

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Blog entry by Jim Sellers posted 03-13-2015 06:21 PM 2949 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sometimes I ask myself “what makes me want to take on such challenges?” I saw a picture of this chess set that someone had posted to a pinterest board and was so intrigued that I just had to figure out how to make it. I had no clue how it was made but I had my own idea how it could be done. Since it’s commercially available, I assume it was some manufactured item that came from China. Anyway by the end of the following day I had my maple and walnut stock ready to start milling and my jig set up. I’ll post a follow up blog on exactly how I did it but I’d like to hear from anyone who wishes to share their ideas, how you would do it. After I was about half way through cutting the con caved blocks I started thinking of other different ways that could have been easier. Could have used different tools and jigs. Ideas anyone? So after I had the board glued up (except for the frame) I had to decide what to do about the chess pieces. I had 32 pieces to turn and didn’t even own a lathe. Long story short, I found a cheap 60s era craftsman lathe on craiglist, brought it home and soon had my first experience at turning.

The main lesson I came here to preach about is how much wood moves and swells. After I had painstakingly mitered, fitted and glued the frame around the board I was pretty happy with it. Then I put a finish on it (shellac). Now I know that wood is gonna swell and shrink, I just didn’t know it would be so drastic and happen to me but the next day i discovered the miters had opened so much that I almost could’ve slid a dime in between. I think it might have been ok had I finished the board before gluing the frame.

So now I have the corners of the frame squared off and trying to decide on how to cap or put legs in place.
Finished project coming soon.

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

6 comments so far

View poospleasures's profile


847 posts in 3122 days

#1 posted 03-13-2015 11:45 PM

Looks like you are well on your way to a very nice save. Good thinking which I will remember since I have been there before but did not think to do this. Love the board but they sure do move. Voice of experience.

-- I,ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember. Vernon

View Heisinberg's profile


40 posts in 2237 days

#2 posted 03-14-2015 03:52 AM

Looks awesome! You could have tried using splines on the miteres to hold and stop them from splitting.

-- "I've still got things left to do." – Walter White

View Jim Sellers's profile

Jim Sellers

479 posts in 2973 days

#3 posted 03-14-2015 02:36 PM

Well, I should have known better. Since the board is end grained and was dry before I soaked it with shellac, it had to swell. I don’t think splines in the corners would have stopped it but I’m wondering what would have happened if I had.

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View sras's profile


5310 posts in 3767 days

#4 posted 03-14-2015 03:05 PM

Awesome board design! However that type of border around an end grain board will always fail. An end grain border will move with the board – or you need a way to allow the corners of your border to float.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3442 days

#5 posted 03-15-2015 12:11 AM

That’s some finely crafting and turning work and fun there JC. Wow! Too bad for the crack, but, at least it’s in a fixable place. The board is phenomenal!

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

View Lucio's profile


47 posts in 3253 days

#6 posted 04-11-2015 02:59 PM

Nice work Jim. Board has a tricky feel on the eyes. As for the movement perhaps you could put a 2mm medium density foam strip (similar to double sided mirror tape) around the complete edge of the board and have the chess board “floating” in the outer frame. hope that I have explained it clear enough>

-- Next to hunting I love woodwork best,,,,,or is that the other way around????

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