One rainy day a couple of weeks back I was scrounging around for a quick project when my wife. near her wits end dealing with the three screaming, growling creatures with gnashing teeth we call children, told me that unless I found something for them to do over the weekend, she was leaving me for the David Hasselhoff look-alike UPS delivery man.
Never being sure if she’s serious, I decided to not take any chances and figured I’d kill two birds and quiet three kids with one stone. My scrounging soon came across an empty wine crate (when you have kids you tend to drink a lot) and I pondered the top panel with the nice embossed name of the wine maker. Soon, my mind turned to simpler days before the era of video games, X-Boxes, and iPods. What kept me and my siblings busy on a rainy day other than cleaning the toilets? Checkers. Later, I learned chess. So off I went to make a quick checkerboard.
The pine wood is quite light and fragile and subject to tear out, but I figured I’d take it slow and just use a flush cut saw to cut the top from its rectangular original size down to a square. Of course, that really messed the edges up and I probably should have used the jig saw with a very fine blade, but we live and never learn.
I had a quarter can of red mahogany stain sitting around gathering dust, so I decided to use it to make the board’s dark squares. Not having a checkerboard template, I turned to that trusty miracle tool, painter’s tape. I covered the entire board with it, then marked out my grid over it. I then scored the grid with my box cutter and cut deep enough to make a narrow groove in the wood. My hope was that the groove might prevent the stain from bleeding into the light-colored squares. I had marginal success. Here’s the board cut and taped up.
After that it was simple enough to let it dry and peel off the tape. There was some bleeding into adjacent squares, and, of course, a couple of knife cut mishaps, but it gives it a sort of rustic look (at least that’s what I tell myself).
I first thought it might be fun to cut wine corks into checkers, which would keep with the theme and I even cut out a bunch that I can use as a second set.
I also experimented with cutting corks into the shapes of chess pieces, which I think gives it a fun look.
For the checkers, though, I ended up not using the corks. I had a small birch branch I had collected after a storm, so I cut it into circles and painted the tops and bottoms red and black. Here’s the result. I think it goes with my “rustic” theme.
After finishing it I emerged from the basement with my newly-made child distractor and said “Hey, kids, look what I made for you.” Soon, the heckles and taunts grew deafening, with questions like “Where’s the screen?” and “How do you turn it on?” After the teasing ended though, they took a chance at it. Two hours later I checked in on them—the silence was blissful as two contemplated moves while the third watched intently. Of course, it didn’t last, but the David Hasselhoff look-alike UPS man doesn’t stand a chance now.
-- Cut first and ask questions later.