I got side tracked and didn’t accomplish any of the goals that I set for today. The day wasn’t a total loss though. I made a batch of chili and I watched a few videos on dovetail joints and marked up my boards. I need to clear space on my bench to do the cutting, so that was my excuse for not starting on them until I finish gluing up the top.
Out in the garage, I glued up a few more rows and while I was waiting for the glue to dry, I started thinking about the game pieces that will go with the set. I don’t think I have time or the skill to carve all the chess pieces myself, so I ordered a set from Lee Valley. They are incredibly inexpensive. I guess I’ll see how good they are when they get here in a few days. In the mean time, I needed to find some checkers.
Standard size checkers looked too small on the 2 1/2” squares, so I decided to make a set of large custom pieces to go with the board. Not having a lathe, I found a 48” long, 2” diameter dowel at Home Depot and added a simple cradle to my crosscut sled to hold it steady while I sliced it into 1/2” thick blanks. I made plenty of extras in case I have any mishaps. The dowel looks like some kind of poplar, but I’m not really sure. It had a “made in China” sticker on it.
I decided to try relief carving(another first for me) to raise my Daughter’s initials on the checkers. The second jig I created was a “vise” to hold the 2” blanks while I stenciled on the initials. I plan to use it as I carve them as well. I took my 2” Forstner bit and drilled holes in a scrap of 1/4” MDF. I used carpet tape to stick the MDF to another board. The carpet tape grips the blanks nicely if I give them a tap when I set them into the holes. I’ll clamp this to my bench and I shouldn’t have to chase any of the blanks around the garage while I complete the carving and sanding.
My plan is to carve and sand into the white space inside the circles to make the letters stand out. I want the checkers to have a rim around the top like the standard plastic ones. It’s too late to start on this tonight, but I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I will stain half of them Ebony and leave half Natural before I seal them with a few coats of gloss poly.
-- "There seems to be a black hole in my garage that swallows up pencils and tape measures as soon as I put them down."