Chess board for a gift

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Project by Mike_D_S posted 06-05-2016 03:34 PM 1909 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My Dad’s 70th birthday is in a few days and I wanted to do something for him that would be different than the usual gifts we give him.

So I decided to make this chess board. It was a bit of a rush as I only really made a final decision last weekend. So starting from Sunday afternoon last week and working in the evenings after work this week, I put this together.

The board is Walnut and Birch, while the trim is Padauk and Birch. The body of the box is Walnut again. This is my first time to make a chessboard and I think it turned out ok from a construction standpoint. Fitting the mitered trim and box frame was a task and there are a couple of the corners that could be better, but I seem to be the only one worried about them. The drawer front is trimmed out to match the top and the drawer is felt lined and dovetailed.

Finish is 4 coast of wipe on poly and then lacquer top coat.

Overall I’m happy with the piece as it was quite a bit of finicky work. Especially the final prep before finishing as the dust from the padauk in the trim had a tendency to bleed onto the Birch, so I had to take it slow and easy, with the final cuts being with a block plane.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

8 comments so far

View InsideTheBox's profile


125 posts in 2961 days

#1 posted 06-05-2016 05:50 PM

It looks beautiful to me. I’d like to see a photo of the interior. Haven’t worked up the courage to do a chessboard because they are so finicky, but it’s on my list.

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

View oldrivers's profile


2815 posts in 2854 days

#2 posted 06-05-2016 08:31 PM

Looks Great to me I think your Dad will love it.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Mike_D_S's profile


808 posts in 3502 days

#3 posted 06-05-2016 09:09 PM

The drawer is 1/2” Baltic birch and lined with black felt. I added a pic of the drawer.

Actually making the board was relatively straight forward compared to the mitered box.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 06-05-2016 10:13 PM

Mike, you’ve done a wonderful job on this chest board.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Andy's profile


240 posts in 2115 days

#5 posted 06-05-2016 10:37 PM

Really nice work Mike. Thats one beautiful chess board.

-- Andy Smith

View Ivan's profile


17058 posts in 4155 days

#6 posted 06-06-2016 07:23 AM

There couldn’t be better gift and all hand made! The board set looks magnificant.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Dustin's profile


707 posts in 2028 days

#7 posted 06-06-2016 01:51 PM

Mike, is that a regulation size set on the board? Outstanding! I’m wanting to do a nice chess project this year (I play in my local club regularly), and am still on the fence between a board/box and a simple table. Either way, I’d love to work in a nice binding around the perimeter; it really makes your board pop!

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View Mike_D_S's profile


808 posts in 3502 days

#8 posted 06-06-2016 02:25 PM

Well, I wouldn’t say it’s “regulation” as the squares are just a hair above 2”. I think the regulation board is 2 1/4” squares to fit a 4” king (2” base)?

What I can say is that I bought the pieces sized down just a bit from the traditional set. The king is 3.75” tall with a base that is 1 5/8”. This is a little under the traditional ratio of 50% base to height as I understand the normal guidance.

I had not actually intended to do the trim originally, but I’m glad I did it. If I was doing it a second time, instead of building the board first and then trimming around it, I would build the box with the trim first focusing on keeping it squared and making all the miter cuts repeatable. Then I would trim the board down with a -1 or -2 degree bevel on the side in order to fit it into the box.

I started with the board first, which seemed reasonable, but my board is off square by about 1/8” length to width and some few thousandths in actual squareness. So I had to do a bunch of custom fitting for the miters.

Starting the box and then building the board out with the outside squares 1/16” oversize would be fairly easy to do by leaving the outside strips oversize a bit and then doing two of the cross cuts oversize when doing the rotation to alternate the colors. I think it would be easier to trim down the board edges to a perfect fit in a well mitered box than doing it the other way.

I’ve done several solid wood stair installs and the back bevel on the sides is good way to end up with a precision fit. On stairs it also helps with squeaks at the relief on the side of the stair reduces the rub. But it’s a lot easier to make a light pass with a plane or sanding block to sneak up on the fit when you only need to take off a little on the bevel side.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a novice to intermediate woodworker, so there may be a super easy way to do this (inlay instead of solid strip border for example), but this makes sense to me.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

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