Veneered Chessboard

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Project by Tim Dorcas posted 01-21-2008 05:57 AM 6104 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After a bit of excited, I got a veneer kit for Christmas made up of a vinyl bag, an electric pump and a hose to connect the two. I immediately went down to Black Forest Woods in Calgary to buy a couple of packs of veneer, glue, and a veneer saw. It largely went down hill from there.

I recently had watched the Marquetry DVD by Silas Kopf. One of the first things he showed was how to make a checker pattern. As they always do, it looked pretty easy. I immediately decided that this was going to be my first piece.

I didn’t realize it at the time but the Veneer Saw doesn’t come sharpened so my initial cuts were really rough. I was told that you could cut single veneer sheets with an Exacto blade. This is not really true. It cut worse than the dull veneer saw. Silas cut veneer with a crosscut sled. So I made a sled and then cut the veneer. This worked reasonably well but the burl didn’t really like being cut this way. Oh well. It’s just a practice piece. I cut and taped the pieces to get the required checkerboard pattern. I also cut and taped some Etimoe veneer for the back.

Finding some decent plywood in shop I cut, glued and taped the veneer with it finally ending up in the veneer press. This part worked exactly as advertised. I left it in the press for 3 hours and then let it sit overnight. I then did two thing I wish I didn’t do. First I sanded the paper off instead of wetting it and scraping. In my next project I will wait to sand everything after everything is joined together.

Next I decided to use some scrap alder I had around. The scrap was exactly the thickness of the board when I started but ended up being 1/64” too small when it was done. I thought as long as I make the top even it won’t be a big deal. This also turned out not to be true. I used biscuits to join everything and there is just enough wiggle room to make this not work.

Things I like: I like the combination of wood and will endeavor to make this again using these woods and veneers.

Things to do better: I am in the process of making a jig to use in combination with the router to cut straight edges. We’ll see if this helps. I have already made another miter jig so this shouldn’t be a problem. I have already vowed to only remove the veneer tape with water and a scraper. I will also try to take more time. I used too much glue. I have a tendency to do this and it’s something I think I can do better in all of my projects.

It isn’t bad for a practice piece and I learned an incredible amount of information about veneering doing this project. I guarantee the next one will exhibit better craftsmanship.


-- - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & - I make. You buy.

8 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4166 days

#1 posted 01-21-2008 06:01 AM

The more you do it the better you get.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4052 days

#2 posted 01-21-2008 11:15 AM

Every phase of woodworking has a learning curve. Perhaps that’s why it fascinates so many of us.

View HandsOgold's profile


95 posts in 4182 days

#3 posted 01-22-2008 05:30 AM

I consider my self a big chessboard man (let’s not get into waistline at that remark). Everytime i read lumberjocks, i learn some new approach to the process. I used to cut squares, but now i slice strips and then join them and then slice squared strips of them. (I use a paper cutter(heavy metal frequently sharpened)) and moisten the wood esp for crosscut slices. One thing i recommend is to contrast a “busy” grained wood, with a more neutral one. This way your project doesn’t appear “mobile’ and is more easily played upon. I must say that i did appeciate your taking the time to explain what you did. All too many “jocks” just post what them make and fail to educate us as to HOW its done. You were so bold as to point out mistakes, which are sometimes more valuable to readers than other explanations. remember the old joke about the tourist asking, How do I get the Carnegie Hall? and being answered… “practice,,,,practice”

-- Dan

View Karson's profile


35140 posts in 4578 days

#4 posted 01-22-2008 06:22 AM

Tim: Here’s a blog I did on making a chess table surface

I might give you some different ideas. I’ve used a sharp chisel, saw and roller knife that is used in cutting fabric. I also use a fabric cutting board to protect the knife cuts.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4396 days

#5 posted 01-22-2008 11:43 PM

I recently started experimenting with veneer, and you are right about the cutting not being as easy as it sounds. It was very ambitious of you to tackle a chess board right away. All things considered, you did well!

Another point about cutting veneer is that not every species cuts the same. What works well for one might not work for another. What I have been doing each time a try a veneer I have not worked with before, is to experiment a bit to see what method works well for that particular veneer.

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

View MsDebbieP's profile


18616 posts in 4339 days

#6 posted 01-23-2008 03:58 PM

congrats :)
Have fun!!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View john784's profile


2 posts in 3935 days

#7 posted 02-11-2008 05:44 PM

Next time you are cutting equal veneers you might try stacking them between two MDF boards. You can then easily cut them all exactly using your table saw and a sharp blade. You can also take to stack to the jointer to get the edges perpendicular. I used this technique with a demilune table> I veneered the top in a fan pattern using cherry veneer. Th joints came out perfectly. I watched David Marks use this technique and it is easy and precise.


View Ken90712's profile


17592 posts in 3367 days

#8 posted 08-14-2010 06:25 PM

Nice work just got done making 2 chess boards but they’re not veneered.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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