Last spring my son and daughter-in-law wondered whether I could make them a larger chess board than the one they were using. We haven’t discussed it since, so I decided to surprise them with one for Christmas. Here is the completed board.
I was discussing this project with a friend from church. He offered me a piece of walnut he had been storing for more than 30 years (he has a lot more). I bought a piece of maple from a local store (cheaper than the big box stores). Here is what I started with.
The first step was to cut the stock to the approximate lengths I would need, then plane them to the same thickness.
I ten ripped the strips I needed on the table saw. I made them a bit wide, then jointed them with my Stanley No. 6.
I glued the strips up using Titebond II. I made some cauls to keep the panel flat.
Next I ripped across the grain and prepped the new strips for final glue-up. I cleaned the edges and fine-tuned the width with my old low-angle block plane.
To frame the board I used more of the maple. I cut a 3/16 inch kerf on the inner edge of the frame pieces to inlay a strip of walnut as an accent. (sadly my camera broke when I was doing that, so no images)
I then made a bottom frame the same size. I found my remaining maple wasn’t long enough, so I used some oak I salvaged a few years ago. I rabited out the inner edge to accept a 1/2-inch plywood panel.
For the box and drawer fronts I mitered some of the walnut.
I cut the drawer fronts from the walnut box, using my thinnest kerf handsaw, using a square block as a guide. The goal was to have continuous grain pattern across. Sadly, this all fell into the period between the failure of one camera and the purchase of another.
I made the drawers with a simple rabited joint reinforced by some brads; they aren’t going to face a lot of strain and I didn’t think I wanted to risk my walnut by attempting to cut dovetails. I glued and screwed drawer guides to the bottom on the carcass.
Finally I glued everything together and added a pair of drawer handles I cut from some scrap pieces of maple. Then I sanded some more and finally finished it with five or six coats of gloss poly. I am certainly aware of the flaws in my final work. I have yet to complete a project without a few screw-ups along the way. But the final piece is certainly better than the printed particle board they are using now. The top and bottom are 17.25 inches squared the walnut box is 2.5 inches high and 15.5 inches squared.
-- Dave K.