Chess Set,Board and Case

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Project by Alan Young posted 04-18-2011 03:22 PM 4425 views 8 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the first of two Chess ensembles I’ll be making this Spring as both of my sons are graduating from college. Saturday my son Spencer graduated Magna cum Laude from Eastern Michigan University.
I gave him this Chess Set, Board and Case as a graduation present. The chess board is Maple and Sapele veneers over Baltic Birch plywood.The frame is maple and sapele with applied brass corners. The case is Maple for the sides, and Walnut for the bottom molding.

The set is made from cold rolled steel. I made the chess set when I was in college and spent the summers working in my Dad’s business. The original finish was gun bluing for the dark set and zinc plating for the light set. Over the years the set suffered some damage and was re-plated. For presenting the set to Spencer I painted it a durable enamel.

This is the Sheldon lathe on which I turned the chess set when I was in my early 20’s

The design profiles came from a picture on the box of a plastic set we had.

I traced the knight profile onto a piece of paper-then transfered that to some 3/16 steel stock. I cut out the main shape on a band saw and finalized the profile with hand files and punches.

Each set fits in it’s own compartmentalized drawer. The drawer fronts are solid ash milled from a tree that was in our back yard. I veneered the ash fronts in sapele.

The drawer handles are made from 3/8” brass hex stock with 1/2” diameter brass balls.

Thanks for looking.

8 comments so far

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4115 days

#1 posted 04-18-2011 03:39 PM

Oh Alan, what a Treasure. And Congratulations on your sons’ graduation; you sound like the proudest of parents!


View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 3672 days

#2 posted 04-18-2011 03:44 PM

Thats gorgeous…I have a chess table in my future plans…This is definately something to be proud of.

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 2973 days

#3 posted 04-18-2011 04:32 PM

Alan, Gorgeous piece.
Congratulations to Spencer on hos graduation, and to the family. For sure Spencer had encouraging environment or his success.

The board looks impressive. I like the side drawers feature.

What to say about the set, Astonishing.

That is a wonderful present for Spencer.

You sons will be proud and will treasure such presents.

-- Back home. Fernando

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 3899 days

#4 posted 04-18-2011 08:19 PM

It doesn’t get any better than this. I have been wanting to make a chess set some time but needed a plan. You think the way I do so the waiting is over. You of course have out done me and many more buy making the chess pieces as well, but you must be driven to alway make “good, better and better, best”.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3039 days

#5 posted 04-18-2011 10:25 PM

Awesome job! I’m curious – did you make the veneer pattern first with veneer tape and then attach that to the plywood base or did you attach the separate veneers to plywood first and then assemble the board as you would with a solid wood cutting board?

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Alan Young's profile

Alan Young

137 posts in 3749 days

#6 posted 04-19-2011 12:28 AM

Thank you for all the kind words. I am very fortunate father. Spencer has worked very hard for his schooling.

About the veneering process. My veneering was layered as follows:

1/16 inch Baltic Birch Ply
1/4 inch mdf
1/16 inch Baltic Birch Plywood
Then top layers-Maple and Sapele.
After veneering these into roughly 8” by 16” panels I ripped them into 1 3/4 inch strips. These were glued together in alternating dark and light woods. These were then ripped and in 1 3/4 strips and glued again in alternating strips.

View FunkadelicAlex's profile


146 posts in 2721 days

#7 posted 04-19-2011 02:24 AM

Awesome! I really like the drawers. Keeps everything looking neat & clean.

-- Alex -- "I will one day write something intelligent, witty, or humorous here"

View Jorge Velez's profile

Jorge Velez

356 posts in 2615 days

#8 posted 07-26-2011 07:48 PM

Awezome job the same as the other set, impresive looking set, like a lot the chess pcs.

-- Jorge Velez, Guadalajara, Mexico.

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