As promised i'd show you how to make a chess board. I started this tutorial, just a few days before i left for a spring break. Hence i was a bit quiet, but i hadn't forgotten so I finished it off during the past few day and took loads of pictures. The method i used is an easy way to get equal sized checkers, and that let's them match at the corners effortless, if you measure out accurate in the beginning.
For this chess board you'll need a few sheets of veneer, preferably in strong contrasting colours. In this case i'd picked a cherry and a maple for the checkers.
The chess board is made up by 8 by 8 squares, alternating in colour. First you have to decide on the final size you want the play area to be, so you can calculate the size of your squares. That will be the width of the strips of wood you need to cut. At this stage it's essential the strips are equal in size, so use a model strip to set your dimensions, if you prefer (see further down this post to read more on that).
One note of attention; as you cut the wood your knife will press into it, creating a v-shaped dent as it goes through the wood. This will result in a slight angle on the side of the strips. I exaggerate it a bit, but it will make for more precise squares if you keep cutting on one side of the wood. Imagine that if you'd do that and cut a square through slightly thicker wood, the top side of the square would be slightly smaller then the bottom side of the square. Sort of like the base of a pyramid. That is caused by the angle of the edge that the knife has made. So make sure not to flip the strips upside down as you cut them at this stage. Later you'll see the effect that paying attention to this cutting edge can have.
I've used veneer tape to lay the strips down (remember; cutting side up!) in alternating colours. The tape is paper based, with a gom side that will become sticky when moistened. The paper also stretches a bit when wet, shrinking back as it dries again. This characteristic helps to push the pieces tightly together.
Turning the batch of strips i glued more tape on the back to secure. Then flipped it back, with the cut side of the wood facing back up again. Left it for a 10 minutes, to dry out, pressed with a bit of weight.
Now you need to cut strips perpendicular to the original strips. To secure them at the side edge, and prevent tear-out of the fragile wood fibers i contained the edge strips with more tape. I made the first cut to get a straight edge at 90º.
For security reasons i taped the top too and marked one side with a sharpie. That way i could keep track of what side was up.
With everything tight i could now cut strips for the second time. Below is a picture of one way to cut them using a model strip. If you back your stack of wood (plain veneer or stacks of strips like here) against a straight edge (in this case an aluminum profile) you can lay your model strip on top of your wood. Place your wood & the model strip tight against that back profile and place your cutting edge tight against that too. Now press down firm on your cutting edge and push away the aluminum and model strip. Make sure the cutting edge hasn't moved before you make a sharp cut.
I prefer to measure them out, but no matter what method you use, use it all along the make. So if you use a model strip, use that method too, to cut the initial strips too.
As they were cut the veneer tape held the fragile strips together. Although the tape has some tack, the pieces are so small i expected they would do with tape on both sides. And i'm glad i did because the strips needed a bit of handling at this stage.
Now they could be stacked, making sure the colours would alternate. For that i had to clean one edge of the strips to be able to place it tight in a square. Because I started with a white square in the left down side corner. That meant the next strip had to start with a brown square. And then one with a white, next a brown, etc, etc.
(short explanation; because i didn't wanted to flip the strips (left to right, nor upside down!) i used 9 strips to start out with (see above) I started with white and ended with white. All i had to do now was to remove one white square. Moistening the tape softened the glue and i could pick away a white square.
For the picture below i've removed the tape from the bottom strip so you can see what i mean. Notice how the marking with the sharpie indicated to me the right side of the strips were up, and not turned and/or flipped around.)
I placed 8 strips on anther piece of veneer tape, that i'd wetted a bit to become tacky. I made sure to press them tight in the metal square, checking with another small square i kept parallel and not placed them crooked or skew.
Still, the side of the wood that was cut was facing up. That meant that on this side there would be a very tinny flimsy hairline between the squares, due to the dent the knife made while cutting the wood. This is not the side i wanted to show in the finished piece . On the contrary, this side needed to be glued to the core of the board. So i flipped the stack over, using the markings of the sharpie to check i was working on the 'good' side', and put on another layer of tape. I left it to dry under pressure (and went on vacation :)
When everything was thoroughly dry (which it was after 3 weeks :) ) the checkers could be glued on the core. The side that was up, or cutting side, was moistened and left to soak for a minute. The tape softened and could now gently be pealed of.
I then cleaned of the edgeds and took away the excess white checkers. The tiny squares, only held together by the veneer tape were then glued in the centre of a piece of 1.2 mm multiplex. I used excesive amount of glue to try to fill the hair lines between the individual squares.
Before i left it to dry overnight under pressure i made sure the edges were clean and free of any glue spilling out. The next day I soaked and pealed off the veneer tape that held them all together, to reveal the centre playing area of the chess board. It seemed not all hairlines were filled, as you can see, but non the less, it looked ok.
For a nice contrasting edge i took a piece of parquetry trim and cut off the black and white edge. Cleaned it up nicely and mitered the corners, and glued it around the edges.
Old fashion pins helped to secure the trim. Then another edge, a bit wider but also mitered was added.
Tomorrow i'll finish it off, clad the back and sides, but this is the bulk of what i did to make a chess board. I'm sure this is not the smartest or easiest way to make something like this. So please, do comment if you know other techniques or tricks. I love to hear about them and learn! But as it stands, many roads lead to Rome, so i posted it in the hope it you've found it useful or interesting in any way :)))
Update; Today finished the chess board. The back side was cladded with veneer as well and then the whole piece was cut and sanded down to size. The sides got a layer of veneer too and then the whole surface was sanded down. Then the fun part, as ever! was to feed the wood. A bit of Danish oil brings out the colour as if it comes to life, and it always gives me huge satisfaction!!! I finished it of with a few layers of wax.
I've made this second chess board to be able to take pictures to show you how i'd made it. When i made the first one i cladded the back with the yellow birds eye maple. For this second one i used the cherry on the back. In total it's slightly smaller too, as you can see here below.
It was fun to make :)
Have a great day,