Mike’s Chess Board

Viewer Project - By Mike Phipps from Wareham, MA
Added on July 7, 2011

From: Mike Phipps

Project Name: Chessboard

Wood Species: Bloodwood, Tiger Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart Inlay

Finish Used: 1 coat of Seal-A-Cell and then topped it with 3 coats of Arm-R-Seal Semi-Gloss on the body and 5 coats on the top. The inside and drawer were sealed with shellac before assembly to help the drawer glide smoothly.

Project Description:

My brother-in-law said he wanted to get a nice chessboard a while ago, but never did so I figured I had found my next project. This was my first attempt at building one so it was a little intimidating, but I had built a few cutting boards and some boxes so I guess I just had to put the two together. I built the top first out of Tiger Maple and Walnut that I milled down to roughly 1/4″. I went through the glue-up steps to get the pattern and luckily didn’t have too much to clean up. In order to somewhat combat expansion and give the top support, I glued the hole thing down to a 1/4″ piece of oak plywood. I built the frame out of Bloodwood that I cut a rabbet into for the board to sit in with enough room on all sides for the Yellowheart inlay. I glued everything up in one shot using a band clamp.

I tried a new technique of cutting coves using my table saw to give the base some visual appeal. The setup was a pain, but once that was done, I was surprised with how easy it was. The most time-intensive part of the whole project was sanding out the saw marks from the very dense Bloodwood. I cut a dado in the sides for the bottom piece of oak plywood to set in and give the drawer something to slide on. I had some issues with the fine dust from the Bloodwood staining the Maple, especially on the splines, but such is life. You can see some of the spots I couldn’t fix on the splines. The drawer was built out of poplar to keep the weight down and it cuts like butter. It’s held together with Walnut dowels because I thought it would look nice and the Walnut end grain looks like ebony when the finish hits it.

All-in-all I am very pleased with how it came out and my other brother-in-law said he would like one for his birthday. So hopefully I can learn from this first attempt and come up with something cool. The two of them played on it and they both said it was distracting because they kept looking at the board (for all the mistakes). Luckily neither of them are woodworkers, safe for now!