Hello again and welcome back to the chess corner! Today’s topic is turning kings for a chess set.
The height and base diameter of the king is the cornerstone for the rest of the pieces. All pieces get smaller both in height and base diameter than the king. I might do another installment on this topic and show the flow of the chess pieces in relation to one another and how to create the “feeling” this is a set and that they belong next to each other. Kings typically have a base diameter of 1.75 inches and a height of 3.75 inches. These two kings depict when I started to turn chess pieces to my latest and how it evolved to present day. King #1 on the left was turned out of a 2×4 cut in half lengthwise. The tool next to it was just a mortising chisel as I did not have hardly any tools about five years ago. I showed the lathe instructor who does retail as well and said that I’m not supposed to be able to do curves with that tool according to theory. Being my first turning ever I was encouraged to try again. My last series on chess pieces:Queens, the queen on the left was done with that same tool. The king on the right, king #2 was done with part of an old pallet laminated, I think it was rock or red maple. You can still see where the nail went through near the crown and rusted and discolored the wood. My only complaints with piece #2 is that it looks a little “Heavy” I might do another one a little trimmed down and give the base a curve somewhere to breakup the blocky look. The tool on the right was used to make king #2. Using the right tool for the job makes it faster and safer. I bought six different turning tools in a case at Busy Bee Tools for $89.00 and they work just fine. Make sure and try to buy them with “HSS” High Speed Steel, they will stay sharper longer and will produce less heat off the workpiece. Notice how the king is much better proportioned than king #1. That came from practice, patience and perseverance not to mention looking at many chess sets to see in my mind what might make the ultimate chess set for design and choice of wood. The kings crown is unique in that it does not exist like that anywhere that I have seen. It was carved three dimensional and would be my signature of identification. It’s a way to personalize your set, to put your own touch on it. So when designing your set, try to create something unique yet still identifiable. It could be your thicker rings on each piece or more of them or the stem is super thin etc. It’s one thing to copy and duplicate someone else’s work which can logistically a “knightmare” pun intended or to create your interpretation of art and beauty. When duplicating your own pieces, don’t worry if they are not exactly the same, it might even add character to the set, people can look and see that these were not done on a CNC machine or mass produced anywhere but in the home. I hope you enjoyed this and happy turning, please ask if you have any questions.To this day I have never taken a lesson on wood turning or carving so don’t worry too much about starting off, however for at least safety sake maybe get a hold of a couple of books on wood turning either from the local library or bookstore to at least give you the gist of the do’s and don’ts.
-- Mike, Airdrie Alberta