Chess Board and Pieces

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Project by Tomoose posted 12-15-2009 05:46 AM 19835 views 15 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, here it is. After many months of looking at all of your excellent projects, here is my first project post. I am a rookie at woodworking and I have been hesitant to post a project for my level of intimidation from seeing all of your truly fine work. This started out as just a board/box for some Onyx pieces we had gotten in Mexico years ago. I have limited tools and budget (and skills?) so I planned this board using only Poplar instead of two contrasting species of wood (mistake #1). I stained the grey and black strips prior to joining and cutting into the checkerboard pattern. In a perfect world that might have been fine, but I was left with small “steps” along the edges of the spaces. I could not sand them smooth or the color would sand away. After considering starting over (and a lot of head scratching) my solution was to pour self-leveling bar-top epoxy in order to attain a level playing surface. That worked out pretty well (what a cheater I am). The box has finger joint construction with a 1/8 Birch ply bottom. The board is sized just big enough to slip-fit over the box (like a shoe box lid).

Playing with the Onyx pieces proved miserable, as it was too dificult to distinguish between pawns, bishops, etc. (and then my complaining kids made me miserable). Begin Phase II – the pieces. I do not have a lathe (and wouldn’t know how to use it if I did), so I found some plans for bandsaw pieces on Shopsmith’s website. I scaled the patterns down for the pieces to fit my board. I think making them smaller added some challenge to the band saw work. A crash course on compound cuts – that is the longest my bandsaw has ever run. 34 pieces and 20-some emery boards later, all (ok, most) of my saw marks were gone. I then convinced myself that I had a problem with the pices feeling too light to the touch. 3/4-inch long x 1/4 solid Brass rods, inserted from the bottom into the core of each piece gave them a nice, solid feel. The last photo shows a bit of the dividers inside, and the extra queens. The finish is just some Cabot stain – wiped off early to try to get a weathered, old look, and some water-based polycrylic – semi for the box and gloss for the pieces.

This was a giant learn-from-my-mistakes project, but it turned out decent enough. Hopefully the next project will benefit from all the dust I made on this one!

Thanks for looking – Tom

-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

17 comments so far

View Routerisstillmyname's profile


763 posts in 3506 days

#1 posted 12-15-2009 06:18 AM

Good job indeed.
rookie at woodworking ?

-- Router è ancora il mio nome.

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4162 days

#2 posted 12-15-2009 07:07 AM

Great looking chess set and box! Nobody would ever believe this is your first wood working project. Except that you told us! The finish on the pieces looks super. Inside of the box had to be a lot of work as well! Congratulations on an excellent first project on Lumberjocks. Keep ‘em coming!

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View NoSlivers's profile


210 posts in 3087 days

#3 posted 12-15-2009 07:14 AM

Regardless of “mistakes” (which I’ve been told several times are actually “artistic variations”), if you learned from those mistakes as well as improving your abilities, then you benefited from the project. Additionally, you now have a chessboard and pieces to broaden the minds of your kids!!

-- If you don't have time to do it right, do you have time to do it twice?

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3187 days

#4 posted 12-15-2009 08:38 AM

Nice job, good looking set.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 3432 days

#5 posted 12-15-2009 11:54 AM

Yep, that’s a really sharp looking set.

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3247 days

#6 posted 12-15-2009 01:05 PM

very nice set – like the pieces alot

-- -erik & christy-

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1229 posts in 3996 days

#7 posted 12-15-2009 01:28 PM

I’m impressed! Very nice set.

-- Bob A in NJ

View noknot's profile


548 posts in 3438 days

#8 posted 12-15-2009 01:57 PM

There is no such thing as a mistake in woodworking only well designed scrap wood.great job keep the work commin!


View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#9 posted 12-15-2009 03:48 PM

Sure doesn’t look like any of MY rookie projects! Those pieces are especially impressive.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mnorusis's profile


153 posts in 3140 days

#10 posted 12-15-2009 04:23 PM

Those pieces look great. I’ve been wanting to make a chess set, but without a lathe, I figured I wasw out of luck.

Do you have more info on making the pieces? I found this on shopsmith. Is that all you had to go on?


View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3862 days

#11 posted 12-15-2009 04:46 PM

Excellent job.

-- He said wood...

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3117 days

#12 posted 12-15-2009 06:49 PM

Very nice

-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3370 days

#13 posted 12-15-2009 07:42 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone. I will try to get some more projects posted soon.

Mike – that link to Shopsmith is all I had to go on for the pieces. I printed the templates onto some almost card-stock type paper and cut out the shapes, then traced the shapes onto my blocks of stock with a 0.5mm pencil.

-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3424 days

#14 posted 12-16-2009 01:47 AM

I tell you what, you’re off to a great start. That’s good looking chess set. That’s a very challenging project for most of us and especially a beginner. Keep working wood you’re good.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3238 posts in 3709 days

#15 posted 12-16-2009 05:46 AM

Wow! I’m impressed with such a fine job on a difficult project. Keep up the good work!

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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