Staunton chess pieces turned and carved from Lignum vitae and Purpleheart

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Project by JimArnoldChess posted 05-21-2011 03:06 PM 4273 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 2121 days

#1 posted 05-21-2011 03:18 PM

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

707 posts in 2919 days

#2 posted 05-21-2011 03:29 PM

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


16143 posts in 3308 days

#3 posted 05-21-2011 03:40 PM

These are just gorgeous.

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

View bigike's profile


4047 posts in 2378 days

#4 posted 05-21-2011 03:51 PM

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 3275 days

#5 posted 05-21-2011 06:51 PM

Amazing work!

-- John

View a1Jim's profile


113829 posts in 2666 days

#6 posted 05-21-2011 08:26 PM





-- Custom furniture

View terrilynne's profile


833 posts in 1983 days

#7 posted 05-21-2011 08:34 PM

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

-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View degoose's profile


7143 posts in 2444 days

#8 posted 05-21-2011 10:25 PM

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 2415 days

#9 posted 05-22-2011 12:47 AM

wicked pieces

View fernandoindia's profile


1079 posts in 2033 days

#10 posted 05-22-2011 04:09 AM

Love that set Jim

Turned out beautifully, cheers

-- Back home. Fernando

View christopheralan's profile


1118 posts in 2810 days

#11 posted 05-22-2011 05:28 AM

Amazing work! Nothing short of perfection!

-- christopheralan

View MichaelA's profile


778 posts in 1978 days

#12 posted 05-22-2011 06:09 AM

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


1667 posts in 1978 days

#13 posted 05-23-2011 05:13 PM

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


12982 posts in 1782 days

#14 posted 05-23-2011 05:15 PM

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 2427 days

#15 posted 11-10-2012 05:01 PM

A really nice set!!!

-- Hakuna Matata

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