Need help, want your opinion on my chessboard - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Need help, want your opinion on my chessboard

Hello! Iím new to the forum and the project in question is basically my first real woodworking project that Iíve done by myself.

Iím making a chessboard for my husband for Christmas and Iím concerned that Iíve made a big mistake.

The board measures 16Ēx16Ē and is sightly over 1Ē thick. Itís made of tiger maple and walnut.

I wanted the underside of the board to be beautiful and special as well as the top, so I glued up a panel of two excess walnut boards I had and then glued that to the bottom of the board. Here are some pictures.

Iím planning on putting a tongue and groove frame around the edge made of mahogany.

Will wood expansion ruin this board come the summer? I didnít realize at the time that laminating the panels to the chessboard might be a mistake.

Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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I would like to add — the grain is running in the same direction.
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post #3 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 09:03 AM
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There are two basic rules to wood movement: 1) Wood moves and 2) you and I can't change rule #1

What's the humidity in your shop where you built the board? Is it the same as in the house or what the humidity will be in the summer? If those are different and you've laminated the board as you have then yes, it will move. Now whether or not it cracks is up in the air. You may get lucky but generally if you bind wood to keep it from moving it's going to win by either splitting the 'container' by which it's bound or by splitting itself.

There are ways to build to work around this issue but at this point I'd say finish the project and whatever splits, checks, or cracks show up can be called character and the board will still let you play a great game of chess.

It's a nice looking board, as well, so good job!

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post #4 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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Sigh, okay. Thanks for your honesty! I live in NYC and the humidity is incredibly low at this time of year, around 30%. I’m working in my unfinished basement. In the summer the humidity in the house can reach 70%. We have wood floors and they cup slightly in the summer but shrink back to normal in the winter. It’s a very old house, pre 1900 so there’s no central air to keep humidity low during the summer. I don’t mind checks in the wood, just hoping it doesn’t completely explode! Haha
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post #5 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 11:53 AM
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So long as the grain is all running the same direction Iím going to say you will probably be ok attaching the board to the base. If there was a significant difference in the amount of movement between the maple and walnut every chess board made would fall apart.

The problem you will have is with the border. Many chess boards have split because of how the border was designed. Simply metering some boards and attaching them to the field will not work.
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post #6 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 05:30 PM
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Terry meant, "mitering some boards". I assume that he meant a frame with mitered corners, which might be a problem.

Whatever you do and whatever happens, I am sure that your husband will appreciate the gift. You can tell that it comes from the heart.
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post #7 of 19 Old 12-05-2019, 06:45 PM
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You should be fine. This is a perfect time of year to build, because wood joinery is far more stable when the moisture content is low, than when it is high, relative to the final environment. Make sure you apply plenty of finish to both sides of the board to help slow down seasonal changes. You can actually get away with breaking a few rules as long as changes are kept slow. Apply the same number of coats to both the front and the back.


You didn't fully describe the T&G frame, but you will want to make sure to permit some expansion of the main board versus the outer frame (depending on the design, of course.)
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post #8 of 19 Old 12-06-2019, 08:42 AM
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Since all of the grain is running in the same direction, you may be just fine.
The chess bard itself is strikingly beautiful. I think a wide frame would take away from it. Maybe just a thin strip around the edge will look good. Then if anything gives way, maybe only the edging will. so make the edging along the grain fit from front to rear with a little overhang for the other edgings to fit into. On the shorter pieces, only use adhesive for several inches in the center area ant the ends will fit into the other side pieces with a little internal room for the board to expand and contract. If it fails, you can just cut off the edging and try something else.

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post #9 of 19 Old 12-08-2019, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your advice everyone! As someone pointed out, decided to not to mitered corners for the frame, but instead two short pieces and two long pieces. I applied tung oil and yowza sheís a purdy one! Just wanted to show off the final product 🙂

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post #10 of 19 Old 12-08-2019, 03:39 PM
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Unfortunately, they allow only one "like". Too bad. I would have given it several "likes."

Nice work! I am sure that your husband will be very pleased, especially that it came from your craftsmanship.
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post #11 of 19 Old 12-08-2019, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodworkinginnyc View Post
I would like to add ó the grain is running in the same direction.
Nice looking board. Assuming your wood was sufficiently and equally dry when you started, I think the "field" of your board will be fine over time. FWIW, I built one just like that about 40 years ago now when I was in HS and it is still just fine all these years later.

BUT...I did put a border on it with mitered corners and over time, due to the inevitable wood movement factors others here have referenced, the seams on the mitered corners split. The board is still usable but it is a little unsightly on the corners. So your decision to eschew the mitered corners was a wise one IMO. Congrats on the nice project!
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post #12 of 19 Old 12-08-2019, 10:54 PM
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You coated all six surfaces with finish, right?
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post #13 of 19 Old 12-09-2019, 01:49 AM
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I must say that is beautiful!

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post #14 of 19 Old 12-09-2019, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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Iowadave — good to know! Yes, I am glad I also didn’t do mitered corners. I thought it would take away from the look of it, but it honestly didn’t! I don’t mind it at all the way it is. So you made your board with a solid wood “base” as well?

Yes, I’m currently in the process of the finishing stage. I’m doing as many coats as the wood (and I) can handle of Hormbys tung oil finish, which as I understand is a mix of varnish and tung oil so it dries faster and is more protective.

Thank you all!
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post #15 of 19 Old 12-09-2019, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Woodworkinginnyc View Post
Iowadave ó good to know! Yes, I am glad I also didnít do mitered corners. I thought it would take away from the look of it, but it honestly didnít! I donít mind it at all the way it is. So you made your board with a solid wood ďbaseĒ as well?

Yes, Iím currently in the process of the finishing stage. Iím doing as many coats as the wood (and I) can handle of Hormbys tung oil finish, which as I understand is a mix of varnish and tung oil so it dries faster and is more protective.

Thank you all!
Yes, as near as I can tell, your "inner board" and mine are identical. And mine is 40+ years old now, so I would say that it has held up. :) I suspect that yours will as well.

Worst case for you...you possibly could get some splittage at the corners or along the edges where the "inner board" meets the border over the years. If so, then you can still refurb the piece fairly easily by carefully cutting the border off and redoing it. But I don't think that it is likely that you will ever have to do that. I think you are good with what you have there, nice work!
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post #16 of 19 Old 12-09-2019, 11:56 AM
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Need help, want your opinion on my chessboard

For future reference, not mitering the corners only solved part of the problem with the miter joint opening and closing with the season, it did not solve the other problem associated with putting a border on the edge of a chess board.

The field and laminated base will move side to side. Attaching the short border on the field is a good move, but the way you attached the border to the two end grain sides is going to pose a problem. It may cause the field to split where the ends attaches because the long border piece is not going to allow the field to move freely.

There are two common ways of properly attaching a border to a chess board.

1) do it like you did, but only glue it in the middle of the end border pieces, and hold the ends in place with a brad or pin that will give slightly with the seasonal movement. Gluing it in the entire length is a problem!

Where the end border piece overlaps the side border piece, there will be movement so that the sides are only aligned part of the year. Other times the field will swell beyond the end of the border piece, other times the field will shrink so the end border pieces stick out.

2) do an end grain border on the end grain sides. That will require gluing up a panel the width of your chess board and ripping two border pieces out of it. Not as pretty with end grain showing along two edges, but it will not come apart. This method solves all problems associated with wood movement. This is my preferred method. You can even miter the corners.
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post #17 of 19 Old 12-09-2019, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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For future reference, not mitering the corners only solved part of the problem with the miter joint opening and closing with the season, it did not solve the other problem associated with putting a border on the edge of a chess board.

The field and laminated base will move side to side. Attaching the short border on the field is a good move, but the way you attached the border to the two end grain sides is going to pose a problem. It may cause the field to split where the ends attaches because the long border piece is not going to allow the field to move freely.

There are two common ways of properly attaching a border to a chess board.

1) do it like you did, but only glue it in the middle of the end border pieces, and hold the ends in place with a brad or pin that will give slightly with the seasonal movement. Gluing it in the entire length is a problem!

Where the end border piece overlaps the side border piece, there will be movement so that the sides are only aligned part of the year. Other times the field will swell beyond the end of the border piece, other times the field will shrink so the end border pieces stick out.

2) do an end grain border on the end grain sides. That will require gluing up a panel the width of your chess board and ripping two border pieces out of it. Not as pretty with end grain showing along two edges, but it will not come apart. This method solves all problems associated with wood movement. This is my preferred method. You can even miter the corners.
Sigh, I wish I had known this before. I did indeed glue the entire length of the pieces around the board. Will this simply cause the frame to crack? If that happens, I won’t like it, but I won’t be devastated, because I can easily redo the frame in the future. Thank you again for the advice.
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post #18 of 19 Old 12-11-2019, 10:37 AM
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@Woodworkinginnyc

That's your first woodworking project??? Wow!
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post #19 of 19 Old 12-11-2019, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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@Woodworkinginnyc

That's your first woodworking project??? Wow!
I had done really basic woodworking projects in college (graduated 8 years ago) that I had a lot of help from teachers with, but none of those projects required any sort of precision. Actually most of the work I did in school involved bent plywood, which was fun but really easy to do. I mean, pretty much anyone with a pulse can glue up a bunch of panels of bending plywood and form it to a mold.

So technically, no, it's not my first project ever, but as far as anything substantial (I consider this substantial, for me!) that I took from start to finish entirely by myself, this is the first one!
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