Staunton chess pieces turned and carved from Lignum vitae and Purpleheart

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Project by JimArnoldChess posted 1197 days ago 3221 views 6 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Been a while since I have posted, thankfully its been busy this year so far. I started turning and carving some classic Staunton variations. Pictured are sets done in Lignum Vitae and Purpleheart. Both were difficult to carve, the lignum is so full of oil…I ‘finished’ it by holding a cotton ball to it while it was spinning on the lathe…it looked like I had finished them with lacquer. The wood feels like bone or marble! The purpleheart was bone dry, I just recently re-sanded and re-carved the pawn heads, knights, and body shaft on the bishops and you can see the wide variation of color…in a few weeks or so it will all turn a uniform deep rich dark purple, then they’ll get oiled. I also have a set which reproduces the original 1849 Staunton designs that I’ll post shortly, it was done in Pear (a very traditional chess wood species) and ebony.

I have to admit it was fun to make a ‘normal’ chess set for a change…but I have more unusual ones waiting in the wings!

Cheers everybody.



15 comments so far

View Jack_T's profile


621 posts in 1666 days

#1 posted 1197 days ago

I love the detail on your knights. Really shows your carving skills.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

593 posts in 2464 days

#2 posted 1197 days ago

Wow, those are the nicest pieces I have seen posted on here yet! I would love to see a blog on how that is done!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View CharlieM1958's profile


15691 posts in 2853 days

#3 posted 1197 days ago

These are just gorgeous.

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

View bigike's profile


4031 posts in 1923 days

#4 posted 1197 days ago

great job as always! The contrasting wood is saweeeeeeet.

I went back and looked at one of the other sets you did and it looks like the darker squares are just a little higher than the lighter ones? I think that is a very neat detail.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View wwnovice's profile


104 posts in 2821 days

#5 posted 1197 days ago

Amazing work!

-- John

View a1Jim's profile


112020 posts in 2212 days

#6 posted 1197 days ago





-- Custom furniture

View terrilynne's profile


833 posts in 1528 days

#7 posted 1197 days ago

Very nicely done. although I do love your more creative works so much.

-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View degoose's profile


6996 posts in 1989 days

#8 posted 1197 days ago

You are truly the king of chess pieces… they look better than the bought ones…

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ For lovers of all things timber...

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 1960 days

#9 posted 1197 days ago

wicked pieces

View fernandoindia's profile


1073 posts in 1578 days

#10 posted 1197 days ago

Love that set Jim

Turned out beautifully, cheers

-- Back home. Fernando

View christopheralan's profile


1105 posts in 2355 days

#11 posted 1197 days ago

Amazing work! Nothing short of perfection!

-- christopheralan

View MichaelA's profile


771 posts in 1523 days

#12 posted 1197 days ago

Beautiful work Jim and wonderful carving.

-- The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. "Helen Keller"

View BigTiny's profile


1664 posts in 1523 days

#13 posted 1195 days ago

One of my dreams when I was younger was a display case full of beautiful chess sets from all over the world. My first experience with nice pieces was a Chinese friend in Torontro whose family in the old country had been master ivory carvers for centuries. His pride and joy was a set with an 8 inch king carved of ivory, both sides, in the figures of imperial court personalities like the emperor and empress, the high priest for the bishop, a mounted general for the knight, a pagoda as the rook and armoured soldiers as pawns. One side’s pieces had been placed in a box with small amounts of burning incense numerous times until the pieces were stained to the desired colour. The details were unbelievable and it was several generations in the carving. The board was dark jade and onyx mounted in some beautiful, dark heavily carved wood from China and it was raised several inches on ornate feet. The whole assembly packed away in a lovely custom fitted case.

He did not allow anyone to play with it. For play he had a nice, tournament Staunton set on a maple and walnut board. Sort of a let down. (grin)

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Bertha's profile


12951 posts in 1328 days

#14 posted 1195 days ago

Spectacular. The knight is also my favorite. I’ve used purpleheart quite a bit and carving it must be a nightmare!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Gripfast's profile


14 posts in 1972 days

#15 posted 658 days ago

A really nice set!!!

-- Hakuna Matata

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