Chess Pieces (some checkers as well)

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Project by USCJeff posted 08-18-2011 08:19 AM 2591 views 9 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a tedious one, but it was gratifying when it came together. I posted the board itself as a prior project. In short, the board is Walnut/Maple Veneer with MDF as the substrate, had a solid wood walnut frame with a thin maple inlay on the boarder as well.

I did the Walnut pieces and Maple pieces similar, but added differences to have the feel of two sides fighting. Each King and Queen are unique. I went ahead and cut the traditional slot in the maple Bishops, but left the Walnut ones as is. I added some detail to the Maple Rooks as well and left the Walnut unaltered. The Knight was a challenge aas it can’t be completed on the the lathe. I’m happy with the way it turned out. I don’t carve, so I didn’t attempt to add detail to the Knight’s “face”. The pawns were surprisingly tricky. Free-handing 8 identical ones on each side wasn’t a picnic. I had 4 extra Maple pawns and 3 Walnut ones in the end that didn’t make the cut.

My young kids like checkers, so I made some as well. One set of checkers was made using Mahogany. The other. . . , uh, I cannot remember if it was East Indian Rosewood or Cocobolo. They scraps I had of each are very similar. I believe this was the Rosewood since it has a slightly more purple hue and duller orange to it. I used a circle cutter on the drill press for 1.75” checkers. and cut them free on the band saw in .25” thicknesses. Both sides of the checkers are the same. We’ll have to stack a checker to “King” a piece.

Finish was a friction polish on all the turned surfaces. I used poly on what couldn’t be finished on the lathe. All have a wax coat.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

13 comments so far

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1039 posts in 3394 days

#1 posted 08-18-2011 01:19 PM

Nice job with freehanding it on the lathe. I’d like to make a set, but know that it’s a huge committment of time and most likely frustration once you get started. One day…maybe. I have a board about done right now, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2829 days

#2 posted 08-18-2011 01:32 PM

Jeff, this is a really nice set and you are to be congratulated on a job well done.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3661 days

#3 posted 08-18-2011 01:45 PM

Outstanding job. Beautiful set. I have been wanting to turn chess pieces for awhile.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View MShort's profile


1789 posts in 3381 days

#4 posted 08-18-2011 01:49 PM

EXCELLENT !!! I have tried turning pieces but still have not been able to complete the set. Hats off to you.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View shopmania's profile


701 posts in 3145 days

#5 posted 08-18-2011 05:23 PM

Nice job, on both the board and the pieces!

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2448 days

#6 posted 08-18-2011 06:20 PM

Great job! I like the design of the chess pieces in particular. They’re a little on the skinny side compared to typical sets, but I think it’s an elegant look, especially the knights. The swooping lines on those are really eye catching.

-- Brian Timmons -

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4031 days

#7 posted 08-18-2011 06:31 PM

For the record, the style was derived mostly from the instructions for using a PSI duplicator chess template. Don’t have the tool, but it still gave good info that was adaptable to doing it by hand. Took some liberties with it here and there.

They are on the skinny side. I was limited by walnut as I didn’t have much on hand. I was able to glue up enough to make a 1.2” base before sanding. I really shouldn’t have started it until I got some more wood, but patience isn’t my strong suit.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View Carl Fisher's profile

Carl Fisher

53 posts in 2438 days

#8 posted 08-18-2011 08:35 PM

The knights are perfect as is with no face. I like them better that way personally.

As for the pieces being skinny, as long as they are not too top heavy during play, I think it lends an elegant feel to the set vs the traditional squat pieces on most commercial boards.

Very nice.

-- Carl Fisher, Fort Mill, South Carolina --

View cannondale's profile


54 posts in 3027 days

#9 posted 08-18-2011 08:44 PM

Nice simple shapes, thanks for sharing. favourited for future.

View snowdog's profile


1164 posts in 3945 days

#10 posted 08-19-2011 02:12 PM

Great work, I can only imagine how much work that is. I love playing chess but it is hard to find anyone to play with these days. Teach the young when you can :) wood working and chess playing.. throw in some RC planes while your at it and the US constitution :)

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4031 days

#11 posted 08-19-2011 10:18 PM

@Snow, my son is getting old enough now to start to get into the RC stuff. Not old enough to let him do more than the cheaper ones as he seems to enjoy crashes as much as flying. We lost one about a week ago. I have no idea how we didn’t find it. It crashed in some trees, but it wasn’t so dense it should’ve hid the thing. Lost a Rocket that day as well, but that was my fault. I shouldn’t have ignored the engine limitations. I used a larger engine from our other rocket. Took a 45 degree ascent just after clearing the pad pole. Oh well.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4031 days

#12 posted 08-19-2011 10:26 PM

**Anyone out there have a link to a decent storage box for the chess/checker pieces. Found a couple (some on this site). I’m more or less looking for box with customized trays to match the size of the pieces. Likely, 2 trays for the two 16 piece chess sides and a third for the 24 checkers. Message me if you find something similar. Thanks.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View bch's profile


296 posts in 2652 days

#13 posted 08-23-2011 06:17 AM

Very elegant pieces. I’ve been eying chess sets, and this is one of my favorites so far. Excellent work. You should be proud.


-- --bch

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