Finished - But not at all.

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Project by MarkTheFiddler posted 04-21-2014 02:57 AM 2568 views 6 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was a child, I learned the game of chess from my Dad who had been playing all of his life.

In one month – I beat him for the first time.
One Month later – We were 50/50.
One Month later – He never beat me again.
One Month later – I took third in my first rated tournament.
One Month later – I was the Jr. Chess champion of El Paso Texas.

Somewhere along the way I recognized that I had gone as far as I could off raw talent. To get marginally better required tons of study and discipline. I was no master at the game, I was just pretty good for someone so young. After several years of concentrated focus, I hit roadblock after roadblock and could never step up to the next level. My hat is off to those who have the raw ability to far exceed me – There are lots. And there are those who just kept after the game and become better and better through steps and stages. They have left me in the dust.

I am almost finished with chess. I need to give my kids a chance to enjoy the game if that is what they want. I have offered to teach them.

For me, the game is tarnished. Reality stole all the luster out of the game. My children are not polluted by my tainted past and quest for some kind of glory. They can find joy in the game or not. One of them will keep this chess board and share it with their kids. I’d rather them tell their kids that grandpa made the board rather than – Grandpa was a pretty good player.

When you give someone a chess board – you set up an expectation. You guessed it. I hope to one day be able to fashion the chess pieces. Maybe 3 more years? Maybe never? Maybe a granddaughter will make them to tie the generations together. She’ll have the hard job…

The 2 inch squares are garden variety maple and some pretty African Mahagony. The third wood that divides all the squares and composes the innermost border is Jatoba. I am all out of off-cuts in those woods. In case you’re interested, this board is one thickness. No inlays. In case you’re having a spot of bad luck – flip the board over and try again.

Precision almost killed me on this board. How could I screw this simple design up? I found a great many ways to mess it up. My only salvation was sanding it down with a belt sander until all my junky work was stripped away as dust and I found something cool beneath it all.

I learned a lot from my mistakes AND invested in a joiner. ;) A planer is high on my list.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

18 comments so far

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


602 posts in 4150 days

#1 posted 04-21-2014 03:50 AM


What can one say?

Absolute Prose.

Even if one does not understand the obvious depth and emotion within you while creating and watching that board be used.

Thanks, MarkTheFiddler..........for posting this gem.

The written word exceeded the woodworking.


View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5295 days

#2 posted 04-21-2014 03:55 AM

OK OK OK… You’re a Chess Brain… Rub it in… :) :) LOL

Very good!

I love the way you lined each square! ... Puts a very nice ‘touch’ to it…

Are you going to post a Blog or something to show the details?

Thank you for the GREAT job of a COOL Chess board & nice family Story to back it up. :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3431 days

#3 posted 04-21-2014 04:32 AM

Thank you very much Bruce! After I read your compliment, I went back and corrected a few grammatical errors.

Howdy Joe, I’m pretty sure that a blog, that includes the lessons I learned, would be far more helpful. ;)

For instance, I’d make sure the boards are properly planed and joined. Now that you have asked, I will put together something that will de-mystify the build. It’s a lot easier to build than putting it together one square at a time. For instance. A board without borders only requires 14 glued edges. Thanks for letting me know how to a little bit back.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3660 posts in 4955 days

#4 posted 04-21-2014 04:43 AM


That’s really a fantastic-looking board. The wood grains are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your story. I love to look at chess sets . . . forget the game (I don’t have the brains for it).


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View a1Jim's profile


118253 posts in 4820 days

#5 posted 04-21-2014 05:07 AM

This is one wonderful chess board.


View Ivan's profile


17010 posts in 4111 days

#6 posted 04-21-2014 11:35 AM

Beautiful,outstanding board!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26786 posts in 4349 days

#7 posted 04-21-2014 12:11 PM

Sweet board and so perfect!!..Nice going, Mark!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4110 days

#8 posted 04-21-2014 01:32 PM

That is certainly a beautiful board. You did a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Earlextech's profile


1163 posts in 3934 days

#9 posted 04-21-2014 02:12 PM

You work well in word and wood.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3535 days

#10 posted 04-21-2014 04:31 PM

Beautiful work—as always. Interesting story—thanks for sharing.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3431 days

#11 posted 04-21-2014 06:39 PM

Howdy my friends.

I’ve honored Joe’s request and added a Blog. As always, I apologize for making it too basic. Please help it out if I’m missing something that would make everyone’s life easier.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3431 days

#12 posted 04-21-2014 06:44 PM

Wow – thank you all for the very kind compliments. I started the project with the thought that it would be a cake walk. Whew! I got lucky that it turned out nice. Some of you have told me that good woodworking is not always about perfection through out but how well you recover from mistakes. I had a lot of Recovery to do. ;)

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View CasanovaFrankenstein's profile


31 posts in 2742 days

#13 posted 04-21-2014 11:04 PM

very nice! I like the spacers between the different squares. No one wants their queen to stand next to a pawn, it’s uncivilized for royalty to have to be too close to the serfs.

-- -Kyle

View CarverShavings's profile


32 posts in 3047 days

#14 posted 04-21-2014 11:48 PM

Very nice! I’m with the folk who like the spacers. The pieces are not as difficult as you might think. You just have to start slowly. Best of luck!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3431 days

#15 posted 04-22-2014 12:50 AM


I’m still laughing at your comment! I never set out to make an uppity board. ;)

Carver – thanks for the advice. I’m thinking it will take me a while to get those finer details done. I agree with you. Once you get a good start – you are immediately better at it and the fear starts to go away.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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