Thought I would throw up some more pictures and a few more notes.
MAKE SURE YOUR BLADE IS SQUARE!!!
Just checked it? Check again. It definitely doesn’t cut perfectly square due to blade flex in the thick material, but if you don’t start out square, you’ve got no chance. To try to keep the blade flex effects down, I am feeding very slowly with little pressure and letting the saw idle for a few seconds at the stops before I swing the piece.
When I make the turns, I stop, let the saw idle, move my hands to a good spot where I have good control of the piece, and swing it in a smooth rapid motion. If I go slow, it will round off the corners and that’s especially bad on inside turns.
Here you can see the block clamped in the jig after cutting the first side. Note that the entry and exit points for the profile are lined up with the kerf cuts in the jig to make threading easy. When I make the entry and exit cuts, I am applying extremely little pressure, especially on the entry. That’s a place where the bottom of the blade will want to “ride” the outside edge of the wood and enter at an angle. I spend probably close to a minute with the blade making the first 1/16th inch into the wood. I also go very slow at the last few turns and the exit to allow the blade to “right” itself inside the block.
Here you can see the clamping for cutting the second face. Notice the entry line from cutting the first side going across the face.
And drilling the entry holes. The cross on the bishop is about the only drilling operation that requires any precision, as the remainder of the pieces have relatively large waste areas. I’m already thinking a maltese cross would have been a cool feature. Next set (if ever). Note that I am using a rather large bit, this is because once there is a void in the center following the first side cut, it can be tricky to thread that hole so I go a little large.
And finally, my favorite and most satisfying part when you peel off all the pieces and reveal what’s inside. I love how the whole thing acts like a little 3d puzzle (though the little nubs from the top of the rooks and queen make this step really difficult, amd it takes a lot of tapping, shaking, and patience to get them apart).
A quick pic of the chess graveyard as well, a creative person could easily turn all this into another 3-5 sets.