A chessboard you can walk on

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Project by ferstler posted 06-04-2013 01:26 AM 2206 views 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the third chessboard I have featured on this site. The first one was a basic item, with squares made of select pine “chunks,” each 2 inches square and .75 inches high. They were glued in place on a board, with a frame made of cedar around the thing. The lighter chips were unstained and the darker ones got a Minwax mahogany stain. Clear coating was with Minwax poly varnish in a satin finish. The dark pieces were mounted at right angles to the lighter ones.

The second board was similar, but was a three-dimension job, with the front ranks on each side higher up than the second rows, the seconds higher than the thirds, and with the two middle rows lowest of all. The “armies” would essentially march downhill into the plain and then march uphill to conquer the king. In this case, the frame around the perimeter was reclaimed redwood. Clear coating this time was with Deft spray lacquer in a semi-gloss finish. This was a novelty board that would obviously not qualify for tournament play. A conversation piece that could be used to play chess.

This third board is again different. I managed to get hold of some unused flooring boards and cut them up for use as squares. The dark pieces are high-gloss finished mahogany veneer. The lighter ones are solid bamboo. The thicknesses are about a half inch, with the bamboo being slightly thicker than the mahogany veneer pieces, but I sanded each backside with a table belt sander to get them all the same. The frame this time is oak, stained dark brown. I think this board can stand heavy use, what with the pieces made of flooring, and I kind of think of it as a chess board that one could walk on. OK, I am joking here, but the surface does look good, especially that high-gloss mahogany.

As with the earlier boards, during the glue-up work the pieces were separated by small “tabs” made of cut-up tongue depressors, with the squares glued in place with PL construction adhesive, which does not need clamping to hold quite well. As with the other boards, the bottom board holding the pieces is .75 inch mdf, which makes the boards all pretty heavy. Stability is important with chess boards, since there is a war taking place on their surfaces. Each of the three boards has a somewhat smaller standoff base underneath with felt pads to protect furniture.

Howard Ferstler

5 comments so far

View scrollingmom's profile


1212 posts in 3805 days

#1 posted 06-04-2013 01:39 AM

Very nice I really like the colors too. I have never played chess so could you please tell me why is there space between each square? Does it have something to do with playing the game?

-- Kelly, Allen,KS

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 4206 days

#2 posted 06-04-2013 01:42 AM

That is really a marvelous looking board. The wood contrast looks great . Fantastic job .

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3826 days

#3 posted 06-04-2013 04:25 PM

That’s a great looking board. Never would have thought to use bamboo, but it works.

-- Brian Timmons -

View leafherder's profile


1991 posts in 3294 days

#4 posted 06-04-2013 10:53 PM

Aww… I thought it was going to big enough for life size live action chess.

Great job, good use of reclaimed tiles.

-- Leafherder

View ferstler's profile


342 posts in 4862 days

#5 posted 06-05-2013 09:44 PM

scrollingmom. I used to play a lot and almost won a high-school tournament over five decades ago. These days, I play the program on my computer and can barely hold my own against the lowest of the challenge levels. Old age has dulled the mind. Anyway, the spacing is strictly for artistic purposes. Tournament boards have squares that are anywhere from 2 to 2.25 inches on a side. These are about 2, with the 1/16 inch spacing getting the overall size up to a tournament level. The board can also be happily used for playing checkers.

RonInOhio and BTimmons. While the mahogany is a thin veneer (engineered wood), the bamboo is actually solid, in that multiple pieces of the stuff were glued together to make a solid board. The mahogany and bamboo boards were not quite the same thickness, so I carefully sanded the bottoms with a big bench-top belt sander to get them all about the same. Not perfect, but close.

leafherder. Thanks for the complement. Remember, the pieces were cut from flooring boards and not cut from individual tiles. Some flooring stores will actually give away leftover boards. However, regarding individual tiles, I have discovered the flooring sample bins at Home Depot (where the pieces are free for the taking) and at Lowe’s (25 cents each; still cheap), and plan on making use of them in some of my art-collage work.


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