Friday, March 6, 2015

Wood Chess Board



The picture above is of a chess set my father gave to me when I was young.  I've always enjoyed playing chess against my father and uncle.

One day while browsing for an interesting wood project to work on, I found someone on Instructables.com who made a fairly cool wood chessboard.


To see the original Instructables for this build, click here.

That person made theirs out of Cherry and Norway Maple.  I didn't use these - instead I bought the most contrasting hues I could find at Lowes: Poplar and Red Oak.  I bought 4 strips of each.


These strips have the same dimensions - 1.5" width, .75" height.


My first step was to glue the sides of all but one strip.


Then I pressed them together and clamped them tightly to each other.


To make sure the middle didn't buckle from the pressure, I clamped the other sides down to my work table.  Then I let it dry overnight.


The next morning I removed the clamps.  All the pieces are firmly together.


Using a sharp chisel, I removed the beads of dried glue that surfaced.


Then it's onto my surface planer to make both sides level.


Once level I began cutting strips through the whole thing.  The cuts were made resulting in strips that had both types of wood.



Next I glued the new strips together, again using clamps to hold the whole thing together tightly.


When dry I removed the clamps.


I trimmed the edges slightly with my table saw, making sure all edges were level.


Next I ran the whole piece through the planer again until both top and bottom surfaces were smooth.


During planing, one of the sections became loose, so I applied more glue and clamped it again.


Although I thought my straight cuts were straight, apparently they were not.  Small gaps appeared in the board.


So when the board dried I applied some wood filler to fill in these gaps.


When the filler dried I sanded it smooth with my orbital sander.


Next I went out and bought a strip of finished trimming, which I cut at 45 degree angles to make a frame.


I glued and nailed the frame together, and then glued and nailed the board to the frame.


Then I used a little more wood filler to fill in tiny gaps between the frame and the board.  For once I did a pretty good job making a perfectly square frame, so the wood filler needed was minimal.


When the filler dried I sanded.


Next I cleaned everything, and then used some light colored stain on the board.


And it really looks good!



There are some imperfections though.  Perhaps the worst is my failure to notice that some of the squares were not lining up correctly.  This was a mistake I made early on when gluing.


Also, the pre-finished trim did not stand up well when I was sanding the corners.


So I wound up sanding the trim to make it look worn all over.


Next I added a darker stain to the bottom.


When it dried you could still see the checkered board, but it was not as nice looking as the top.


After a little clean up I set up some chess pieces and called it done!




You can flip the board and play on the darker side, but I think the top looks nicer.


All-in-all this was a cool project to work on.


I'll have to build a better one in the future...


...but for a first attempt this isn't bad at all.


Thanks for reading!


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