Chess board with outlined squares

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Blog entry by MarkTheFiddler posted 04-21-2014 06:35 PM 1640 reads 7 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch


Joe asked me to create a little Blog about how I created my chess board. I’m happy to do so. I’ll just remind everyone that when you are seated at the board, the corner square to your right is white.
I’ll edit this post this week to add illustrations.

Truth being told, the cutting board and box makers are far better at this than I. This design is just a basic cutting board without using end grain. I didn’t allow for expansion so the whole thing may just explode on me one day. Use your discretion and joining techniques to guarantee the board will be around for many years.

Even a simple job like this can get really complicated without a planer and a joiner. I recommend that you use a thickness planer and joiner on your stock before you begin.

I decided to make 2 inch squares and ¼ inch divisions. Lets get started with that part.

I ripped my Maple and Mahogany to 2 inches. I crosscut the 2 inch strips into 8 18.5 inch lengths. 4 were Maple and 4 were Mahogany. I cut quarter inch strips of Jatoba and cross cut them to 18.5 inch lengths as well. If I were to make another board like this – I would not precut the Jatoba strips. I would cut the Jatoba wider. If you have the patience and time, you can literally just rip a hunk of your chess square border to 3 inches and cross cut it to 18.5 inches. You can cross cut another length to 20.5 inches and set it aside.

Assuming I follow my lesson learned:

1) I would take 1 length of Maple, 1 length of Jatoba and 1 length of Mahagany and glue them together lengthwise with the Jatoba in the center. If you cut your strips to 18.5 inch lengths, you don’t have to worry about any slight side to side shift of the lengths during glue up and clamping. Just make sure the pieces are glued up and level with one another.
Clean up your squeeze out because you will do some more ripping.

After the glue has dried, I would have this three striped starter piece with a really fat piece of Jatoba in the center. I wouldn’t have any squeeze out bumps. Following that, I would just set the tablesaw fence to 2 ¼ inches and rip the Maple side. The Jatoba I glued to the maple is now only ¼ inch thick. Your off-cut is the mahogany side. Set the mahogany next to the fence and rip it down to 2 ¼ inches. Your off cut is the thinner piece of Jatoba. You can use that Jatoba length again through step 3.
If you think about it. You could create a division between the sqaures that is razor thin. There is no rule that says the division has to be ¼ inch thick.

2) I would do step 1 two more times.

3) I would take 1 strip of the maple and glue the Jatoba off-cut to it like step 1 BUT I would not glue the Mahagony to the other side. Like step one – just set the maple to the table saw fence and rip the glued up piece to 2 ¼ inches.
Note : What you do now is limited by how big of a cross cut you can accurately make. If you can accurately make a 20 inch crosscut – life is much easier. You can cleanup one side of the board in one pass and can skip part of the stuff below.

4) I’ll assume that you can make a very nice 5 inch cross cut.
Glue a Maple length to a Mahogany length. You will see a Maple stripe, Jatoba stripe, Mahogany stripe and Jatoba stripe. Again – you don’t have to worry about very small side to side slippage. You do need to worry about keeping the boards level and you need to clean-up the squeeze out.
Step 4 can be started after you have you stock from step 1.

5) Repeat Step 4 two times.

6) Take the Remaining Maple strip and glue it to the Mahogany strip with the Jatoba stripe in the center.

7) Cross cut your glue up from steps 4, 5 and 6. Make sure the maple stripe is closest to to you. Just shave off of as little as possible from the right side. Make sure you have a very clean right angle.

8) Set up two clamping clamping blocks at a right angle to each other. Be sure you are close to the egde of your work surface so you have a little room to tighten your clamps. I set the blocks up so I could see a backwards L when I looked down at it. It occurs to me that most of you would want to set the blocks up in the L shape.

9) Take a piece from step 4 and with the maple side toward you and set it into the corner of the blocks. Your clean cross cut needs to go in the corner. That’s how it will sit. Add put another piece from step 4 so you can clearly see what surface needs the glue. Add glue and clamp the pieces together. You’ll want to to clamp the work front to back and side to side. Make sure the work is level.

10) Take the final piece from step 4 and set it in the clamping blocks. Again, the maple stripe is closest to you. Take the piece from step 7 and set it next to the first piece. Now that you can see the surfaces that need glue, Glue them up and clamp like in step 9.

11) Take the piece from step 9 and set it into the clamping blocks. The maple side is toward you. Take the piece from step 10 and set it next to the other piece. Glue, clamp,level, squeeze out etc.

12) You now have a stripped chess board. Your work is about to pay off, but lets make sure you are set up correctly. You should see the following stripes where W = Maple, j = Jatoba and B = Mahogany.

13) Set the table saw fence for a 2 inch rip. Make sure you are using at least a good combo blade. A ripping blade will probably cause tear out. Set your stripped board perpendicular to the table saw fence. The right angle you worked so hard to maintain will touch the fence. Rip the board into 8 2 inch strips.

14) Lay the strips onto your work surface with the stripes perpendicular to you. As they come off the saw. The rightmost stripe needs to be white. Flip the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th boards from right to left. Looks like a chess board huh?

15) Lable the right most maple square from each strip 1 through 8. I also recommend labelling adding an arrow to that square that points up (Away from you)

16) Go find that 20 ½ inch by 3 inch piece of Jatoba you set aside 2 weeks ago. ;)

17) Using your clamping blocks, Sandwich the Jatoba between pieces 1 and 2. No need to clamp. Precisely mark the length of Jatoba to match the length of strip 1. Does it match strip 2 through 8? If it does, you can precisely cross cut it at your mark. If not, match it up to the longest strip. It could be 1/32 longer than the others but it will make a difference. You can always shave off excess but shaving on …. 

18) Back to our sandwich. Your numbers 1 and 2 are in order in order and the arrows are pointing up. The wide piece of Jatoba is in the center. Flip piece two over from top to bottom. Don’t rotate or turn it side to side. Glue the Jatoba in-between strips one and two as they are laid out in the clamping block. Clamp top to bottom and side to side.

19) Set the table saw fence to 2 ¼ inches and place the glue up from 18 against the fence. The squares will touch the fence. Rip the piece to leave a ¼ inch Jatoba stripe. Take the offcut – place the squares against the fence and rip all but that ¼ inch of Jatoba.

20) Use that Jatoba offcut to do steps 18 and 19 again as you glue up pieces 3 to 4 then 5 to 6.

21) Set piece 7 in the clamping blocks and glue the Jatoba to the top (The side away from you). No sandwich this time.

22) Take piece 7 to the table saw and cut it down to the 2 ¼ inch with. (That’s the ¼ inch Jatoba stripe).

23) Lay all of your pieces on your worktable 1 through 8. Glue and clamp using the clamping blocks. I’m sure you have the picture by now.

24) Add external borders as you see fit. Remember that the White corner is to your right. ;)

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

4 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10293 posts in 4225 days

#1 posted 04-21-2014 07:08 PM

Very good Mark!

I can see how cool your technique was…
... sure simplifies it a lot.

Thank you very much!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3259 posts in 3885 days

#2 posted 04-22-2014 01:58 AM


Great tutorial! You put a lot of time and effort into these very precise steps. Thanks.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2786 days

#3 posted 04-22-2014 04:36 AM

Mark thanks for sharing , just got a drum sander ,may give this a try on it one day . great job on the tutorial too

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2361 days

#4 posted 04-24-2014 10:26 PM

Howdy – I finally added the illustrations to the Blog. I love thinking through puzzles but I’m pretty sure I’m just standing on the shoulders of others. Help me out. If you have an easier trick to share, by all means please share. I learn from you all more than you learn from me. ;)

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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