Walnut Chess Table

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Forum topic by Don posted 06-01-2015 11:55 AM 759 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Don's profile


551 posts in 3239 days

06-01-2015 11:55 AM

Hey folks,

I’m in the middle of building a round, pedestal base chess for a client. The pedestal base has been done for a while and I have the top almost complete. Problem is, I’m not entirely thrilled with how the top turned out. I made the chess board and then fitted Walnut around it then routed it round.

I chose to use solid Walnut for the top and bottom but I’m very concerned with wood movement, not wanting the chess board etc to be ripped apart or massive cracks to appear.

Is it better to build the top and bottom from Walnut Ply or take the chance with solid Walnut?

I would also use a Walnut stain to even everything out afterwards…


-- -- Don in Ottawa,

6 replies so far

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1211 days

#1 posted 06-01-2015 02:16 PM

This is a classic puzzle, do I use real wood and worry about movement vs. am I cheating with ply? A chess board is a large enough surface that cracks, checks, and other issues are a real concern. I’d probably use furniture grade ply, or make it myself with veneer, and then not have to worry about the piece. Are you mostly using end grain on the chess board? if so that will increase the wood movement and cause more concern, which would tend to point to plywood even more.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View Don's profile


551 posts in 3239 days

#2 posted 06-01-2015 02:23 PM

All face grain (Bird’s Eye and Walnut) for the board…

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View runswithscissors's profile


2751 posts in 2021 days

#3 posted 06-02-2015 12:12 AM

“Checks” are a normal part of chess (culminating, usually, in “checkmate.”)

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1219 days

#4 posted 06-02-2015 01:14 AM

If all the field material is running in the same direction all expansion will be in that direction yeah. Maybe come up with an apron finish that doesn’t require connecting joints at the corners.

-- I meant to do that!

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1438 days

#5 posted 06-02-2015 02:35 AM

This is indeed the classic question. If you want to put a border around the chessboard, I think there are two reasonable options:

1. Make the board from veneer mounted to a stable panel (like plywood)

2. If you must use solid lumber, then float the board in a frame, with expansion gaps built in. Here are a couple of options:

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View BroncoBrian's profile


450 posts in 1955 days

#6 posted 06-02-2015 10:05 PM

Well said Jerry.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

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