Building a Spherical Chess Set #1: The Beginning

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Blog entry by johnstoneb posted 01-28-2018 03:24 PM 3183 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a Spherical Chess Set series Part 2: Time to get Serious »

About a year ago a friend posted a picture of a spherical chess set and somewhat challenged another friend and I to attempt to build it. The friend didn’t have a lathe and we both kind of dropped the idea. I kept coming back to it and did some research and found the Instructables project. I read the article that was posted and decided it mght be something I would try. The article has a few pictures that give you an idea about how it is mounted etc. everything in the article ended with the statement I made measurements but I lost them. I di get from the article that he had built it with a 9” diameter and it sat on a 10” diameter base. I paid Instructables $15 for a down load of the instructions only to find they were a direct copy of what was printed on the first page. Total waste of money there.
I decided I would build a 10” diameter sphere.

I figured Maple and walnut would make a good contrast for the chess board. I didn’t want to waste the wood so I decided to turn the first from fir. I picked up a couple of 2×6’s from Lowe’s and went to town.
I needed 8 sections to a layer and 8 layers. A 22.5 deg. angle was needed on each side of each piece

As soon as I laid out the first eight pieces I knew this would be way too heavy to turn on my lathe. I have an old 4 speed rockwell with a “12” swing. The 12” swing is possible only because of a 6”cutout in the beat just aft of the headstock. It will swing just under 11” over the bed. Hence the 10” diameter. I needed to doo something about the weight.

I need to shorten these pieces. The middle 2 layers I cut down to 2.25 and for the next layers I guessed and added some to each layer to compensate for the circumference changes until the top and bottom used full size.

Start of the glue up

Once it was glued up I trimmed the corners off so it would turn in my lathe. Once in the lathe time to start turning. You want something scary the weight of that block made that lathe alive. Once I got it round it settled down and I was able to get it into a spherical shape.

Once I got it turned it was time to cut it in half and see how my guesses to segment lengths worked out. I did drill a 5/8ths’s hole top and bottom before splitting everything.

Everything looks good. I can turn a sphere on my lathe without destroying the shop. we need to start thinking about how we are going to do this.
This is where everything sat for the summer until about the end of October.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

6 comments so far

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4309 days

#1 posted 01-28-2018 04:04 PM

Looks like a good start Bruce. Nice turning job especially considering the size of your lathe. Looking forward to seeing more of this project since I have no idea what spherical chess is.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dutchy's profile


3957 posts in 3143 days

#2 posted 01-28-2018 04:48 PM

Een knap stukje vakwerk!


View htl's profile


5325 posts in 2134 days

#3 posted 01-29-2018 02:20 AM

Great start!!!

Je hebt dat goed dutchy !!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View crowie's profile


4229 posts in 2925 days

#4 posted 01-29-2018 06:51 AM

Wow Bruce. Amazingly clever sir.

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View luv2learn's profile


3099 posts in 3277 days

#5 posted 01-29-2018 03:57 PM

This looks like a daunting project Bruce. I am anxious to see the finished project.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View CFrye's profile


11147 posts in 2814 days

#6 posted 01-29-2018 06:19 PM

Good call on the test piece, Bruce! It looks like a beach ball sitting on your bench :-)
Thanks for the blog!

-- God bless, Candy

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