Chess Men and board #1: Prototype design

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by woodboxman posted 07-24-2007 06:05 AM 4932 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Chess Men and board series Part 2: Prototype design #2 »

So, I’ve always wanted to turn some chess figures and build a Chess board. I have been tinkering around with some designs and finally turned a first design prototype. I already don’t like the lack of taper to the top.

this piece, the bishop is 3 1/2 inches tall.I’m gonna make the pawns 2 3/4 inches,the Rooks 3 1/4 inches,knights 3 1/2, queen 4 inches and the king will be 4 inches. The squares will be 2 inches.

The light wood is Maple i think and the dark wood is Walnut. This may or may not be the final wood choice.

This project will take some time to finish as i have so many other things to do.No set ideas for the board design yet, as i’m want to do. I will try to update it as much as i can.

Has anyone done a project like this?

Oh ya, of course there is a “funny thing is”...

The funny thing is , i don’t really play chess…

-- Roy "Woodboxman" Coos Bay, Oregon

4 comments so far

View Herb's profile


17 posts in 4201 days

#1 posted 07-24-2007 06:57 AM

Hi boxman: The only lathe experience I have is with metal (where you set the machine for depth of cut and rate of travel and let er’ rip) so can’t say much on the actual doing the job. But I’m a very good chess player and have definite ideas on what makes a good piece/board design. The pieces must be easily distinguishable. The regular Staunton design is best. Except for the knights 90% can be done with a lathe. Rooks must have the typical castle “merlons” (the saw-tooth effect) at the top. The king must have a cross on top of the head. The queen must have a crown. The bishops should have the “bishop” kind of head-dress with a slot carved into it. Pawns are best with the typical marble shape on top. And of course, the knights should resemble a horse. Other than that, let the creative juices flow; the main bodies can be of any motif. I’m just getting started with wood as a craft (most everything I’ve done before was utilitarian) but I’ve started to make a chess board (using veneer). And it already has a couple imperfections—hey; first try, it don’t look so bad so far—but I have yet to glue the veneer board to the substrate—gonna cross my fingers on that. —(I know “doesn’t” is the correct word but in the vernacular of the day I often speak a common language to express a common feeling)— Best wishes for a successful project. —(if I had to make one comment on the chess piece you have in the picture I’d say: (like in the Amadeus movie) too many notes. That is: make fewer segments (instead go for a couple well placed segments at the top with a flowing curve through the main length of the piece). You’ve got the thing segmented about eight times (one or two at the top – nice smooth curve in the middle and a couple at the bottom will work better)—I suppose that’s your bishop (cause a pawn would have a ball at the top) It’s ok but cut the slot into the head-dress to make it positively identifiable. Also, the base should be significantly larger in diameter—that way it will be more stable. The last thing a chess player wants is pieces that tip over easily.

-- herbc6306

View woodboxman's profile


32 posts in 4207 days

#2 posted 07-24-2007 07:29 AM

hey, Thanks for the input. I am gonna taper the top more so the base will be more stable in the end.And yes, i agree it is a little too busy(segments). I like the bottom half, but not the top. And , i was thinking the same thing about cutting the slot in the bishop, instead of the taper thing. Yes, I’m planning on making the rook look like a castle on top. The Knight is gonna be my main issue on this project. but that’s the fun, try something, and if it doesn’t work it will still heat the shop.

Good luck on your project and don’t sweat the little imperfections, as long as it is rewarding to you that’s all that matters

-- Roy "Woodboxman" Coos Bay, Oregon

View Herb's profile


17 posts in 4201 days

#3 posted 07-24-2007 08:26 AM

Go boxman: Thanks for taking what I said in the spirit it was given. You’re on the right track. Don’t sweat the knight; you can go for any radical idea—it’s the one that’s not a bishop!—oh yeah; I forgot to mention: the knight and bishop should be very close to the same height. The rook should be slightly shorter. The queen is taller than all the pieces except the king, which is slightly taller than the queen. Pawns (of course) are the short guys. Imperfection is part of my reality. Making marbles I’ve been awed by some. Drew Fritts ( is uncanny about perfection—I helped him some in writing his book on marble making (he used me a a guinea pig to test his lessons and I would write feedback, which he incorporated into his book – got a nice mention in the forward). Or if you check out some of the marbles that Mark Matthews makes—pretty humbling from where I stand. I’ll post a pic of the chess board when I get it done—hey; I’ll use it.

-- herbc6306

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4397 days

#4 posted 07-24-2007 11:53 AM

Herb—good idea re: the knight: “it’s the one that’s not the bishop”—would make the set very unique and fun to play, just having to say that a few times at the beginning of the game :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics