First try at a chess board and set

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Project by Spacehog posted 03-26-2014 06:07 AM 1935 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was making a lot of end grain cutting boards for some friends and family for Christmas this year. Some of them had checker like patterns on them, and people started asking if I also made chess boards. I had never actually tried to make a chess board, so I decided to give it a stab just to see how it went.

My basic idea was to have a chess board that was also a box for the pieces. I wanted the actual playing surface to be quite stable, so I decided against having the board fold in the middle. Instead I made a bottom panel that opens to hold the pieces. The chess board itself is made from sugar maple and black walnut end grain. The sides of the box are cedar, and the lid is birch plywood. Oh yeah, and then there’s the pieces. The black pieces are made from white oak and dyed with a black wood dye. Hand carving the white oak proved more difficult than I anticipated and I have a numb thumb and a few scars to prove it! The white side is made from poplar which was much easier to carve, but wasn’t heavy enough. So I added some fishing sinkers to keep the poplar pieces from blowing away, haha. I made an extra queen for both sides and finished it off with a product called shellac which seems pretty good.

I finished the box with some lacquer and added a brass hinge to keep the box shut. But since the hinge seemed flimsy, I also added some neodymium magnets to keep the box shut even if the hinge happens to open. I also added some felt to the bottom of the pieces and the bottom of the board just to keep it from sliding around.

All in all, I’m reasonably satisfied with this. Having said that, I learned a lot and will DEFINITELY change some things for next time. It was a fun first chess board though. I also made my first hand carved dovetail joints which was also interesting and fun. I am glad that I made this board, but I’m much more excited about the next one I’m working on…

-- Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...

4 comments so far

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4166 days

#1 posted 03-27-2014 03:14 PM

It must have taken a lot of patience to carve all of the pieces!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View thechipcarver's profile


229 posts in 2861 days

#2 posted 03-27-2014 04:05 PM

Not bad for your first board. That is something I have always wanted to try to make.

-- While teaching a class, a gentlemen once asked me: "When chip carving an intricate design, what do you do when you are almost finished and the wood breaks off?" I replied "Cover the kids ears."

View Spacehog's profile


87 posts in 2807 days

#3 posted 03-28-2014 01:53 AM

I won’t lie, carving the pieces left me with a few cuts that will probably scar. Carving the poplar pieces was no problem, but the white oak was pretty tough. I’m going to pick different wood next time for sure.

-- Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3458 days

#4 posted 04-01-2014 01:56 PM

Congrats! It came out really great looking. Like the joints and the bottom storage. Great carving on the chess pieces. I think there will be more requests for it. Great job!

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