F. Lanier Graham chess set and board

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Project by trsnider posted 10-27-2017 07:54 PM 2498 views 20 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this F. Lanier Graham chess set, ( with a split board for my sons Christmas present. Thanks to for the ideas. I wasn’t thrilled with the set at first but it grew on me since my son’s an architect and his fiancée is a designer and it seemed to fit their occupations. The other plus was that it was all linear cuts that could be done fairly easily.

Walnut and maple were used for the board and pieces. Thin ebony strips hide the magnets and end grain. The finish is homemade soft wax.

My construction tips for the board would be to: Make sure the width of the woods are exactly the same. Mine were off by a very small amount—maybe due to the pressure applied at the table saw. The mismatches aren’t real obvious but you can see them if you look hard. For the pieces – use the same piece of wood for each side. Sand the larger pieces almost to finish prior to each cut. Smaller pieces are a pain to sand and you risk more rounded corners and mismatched sizes. Using a stop on the miter gauge will help keep the sizes consistent which is important if you put them in a close fitting box like I did. You might want to make a practice set (or two) before you make them for real.

I wanted a tight fitting case and I’m satisfied with the way that turned out. The width is spot on and top sliding action is sweet. I was going to put a divider in the middle of the case, but SWMBO suggested that it would be slightly easier getting pieces in and out if there wasn’t one (so there’s not). The original top of the case became the bottom after I cut the slot too wide. The top indent is acceptable – I don’t have gouges.

Anyway it was fun doing a small project for once. Thanks for looking. Apologies for the false starts, I was mucking around with iphone pictures.

12 comments so far

View JADobson's profile


970 posts in 2020 days

#1 posted 10-27-2017 08:58 PM

That is super cool. Love the way the pieces fit together in the box. I’m usually not drawn to modern designs but this one does all the right things. Well done.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

View AandCstyle's profile


2979 posts in 2166 days

#2 posted 10-27-2017 09:08 PM

TR, you did an outstanding with this project. Your son will love it.

-- Art

View JADobson's profile


970 posts in 2020 days

#3 posted 10-28-2017 04:26 AM

I was worried this might not make daily top three. Glad to see it did. Deserves it.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

View lcwood's profile


216 posts in 2674 days

#4 posted 10-28-2017 08:39 AM

really nice and smart way to fit

View majuvla's profile


11706 posts in 2776 days

#5 posted 10-28-2017 09:01 AM

I like the simplicity of those chess figures.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


30177 posts in 2776 days

#6 posted 10-28-2017 12:58 PM

This is a very creative chest set and nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View JimYoung's profile


277 posts in 1496 days

#7 posted 10-28-2017 01:12 PM

simply elegant.

Does the board fit in the case as well?

-- -Jim, "Society is well governed when its people obey the magistrates, and the magistrates obey the law." -- Solon

View Ken Van Der Griend's profile

Ken Van Der Griend

2 posts in 579 days

#8 posted 10-28-2017 01:50 PM

What a beautiful gift project. Can you elaborate on the magnets – how they were used and installed? Are they to keep the board halves together?

-- Measure twice. Buy once - Ken Van Der Griend - Oak Park Illonois - USA

View ralbuck's profile


4022 posts in 2175 days

#9 posted 10-28-2017 04:19 PM

That is super cool. Love the way the pieces fit together in the box. I m usually not drawn to modern designs but this one does all the right things. Well done.

- JADobson

Very well done!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2097 days

#10 posted 10-28-2017 05:26 PM

Howdy Tr,

Outstanding workmanship. Beautiful set.

I really appreciate the share and design. I don’t have a lathe. My woodworking abilities are more about math than any artistic wood shaping talent.

That said. I can make those chess pieces! Thank you, Thank you.
I’ll leave the sculpting to my betters and try follow what you shared. Simply designed pieces, done very well!
Congrats on so many favorite clicks!!! Your project is hot!!!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile (online now)


3962 posts in 2318 days

#11 posted 10-28-2017 11:22 PM

Somewhere I have seen a set that you can buy the top half of the pieces in pewter and turn or make square bottoms. Like you I am not that artistically skilled to pull them off even with the lathe.

Looks great, congrats on the Daily Top 3. Well deserved!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View chido's profile


105 posts in 280 days

#12 posted 10-29-2017 07:56 AM

really nice good idea

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