Building My Chess Table in Chronological Order

Building my Chess Table in Chronological Order

Well I’ve started to design a chess table that I’m entering in a competition . I’m happy with the actual table top which incorporates a drawer but I’m undecided with the first draft for the legs. I might remove the cross brace and add stretchers or rails just a little lower than the top rails.

Here’s a pic showing the drawer open.

The materials planned are American Black Walnut because it’s got to match existing furniture and I’ve got several planks that have been stored in the house for months, so no problems with it acclimatising. The lighter squares will be sycamore, and sycamore & ebony inlaid stringing.

Here in the Mk 10 version I’ve added Ebony stringing and Sycamore around the actual chess squares to see what it looks like.

No doubt the will be a Mk 11 coming to this screen soon ๐Ÿ™‚

So here it is the Mk 11, with new rails instead of the cross braces.

Yes I think I like it better than the Mk 10.

To give some idea of the size here’s a pic with some measurements.

Yes it’s only small, but big enough to be used as a coffee table should the need arise.

Well I must get off my butt and find time to make a start before I run out of time to make it ๐Ÿ™‚

So I sorted some wood from this piece on the bench

I cut two lengths off the plank and in this pic you can see I’m getting it ready to rip it down to get all the pieces needed for the whole table

These were the only two cuts I needed to make using the table saw at this stage, most of the other cuts will be made on the band saw.

First cut made on this piece, these two pieces will become four when sawn again and will eventually become the cabinet sides.

Nearly all the parts, just a few more pieces to rip out of the boards to the right in the pic

Most of the parts with one face and one edge planed flat & square, next job is to run them through the thicknesser to size them all. You might just see in this pic I’ve written all the finished sizes needed when they reach the thicknesser. Some of the thinner wider pieces will be sized using the table saw and cut slightly over size to allow a final planing to size.

The real woodworking starts here.
I cut all the legs to length using a scrap piece of MDF as a backer.

With all the legs clamped together it’s easy to mark them up exactly the same.

All marked up for where the taper will start.

Setting up the taper jig using the mitre slot as a guide

With the jig set it’s easy to slide it all across to the blade ready to start cutting.

All four legs now have the tapers cut only on what will be the inside faces when assembled.

A final pass over the planer finishes the legs off. Next to do on the legs will be cutting the mortices.

All four pieces that will become the top edges of the chess table have had the curved part cut using two passes on the router table, here is the resulting pic after cleaning up with the vac. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cutting the shoulders on all eight rails starts here.

After cutting the shoulders the next step was cutting off the wider cheeks on all the rails.

The upper rails radius cut tight to the line freehand on the bandsaw and the remaining small cheeks of the tenons were also removed on all the rails here.

All the radius cuts were sanded down to the marking line.

Nearly ready for a dry fit, just needs the tenons cleaning up with a block plane and a good sanding and the base is ready for glue up ๐Ÿ™‚

Well after two days out because of my back I eventually got to assemble the base this morning.

Marking the tenons to cut a mitre on the ends of all the rails. I’ve also sanded everything ready for glue up.

Cutting the mitres on all the rails.

Starting the glue up, the third clamp is just to make sure everything is level, one side glued up, the other just dry fitted.

Glue up and assembly done, I prefer to do the assembly on my table saw top to make sure there is no wind from one side to the other, of course it makes it 100% sure all the legs are level ๐Ÿ™‚

Cutting the two drawer fronts.

Yes cutting two fronts for one drawer ๐Ÿ™‚ for the upper part of the table. The fronts were all sized and sanded along with the two sides before cutting.

Glue up of two fronts finished. Just after this pic I also cut the fronts and sides to length, cutting the mitres on my compound mitre saw.

I would have carried on today but we got family visiting so I got forced out of the workshop to go sight seeing….. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Cut some biscuits in the mitred sides and did a glue up I used so many clamps ๐Ÿ™‚ I had to break out Steve Maskery’s unique square to test how square it was from the inside of the glue up as I couldn’t do my normal diagonal measuring using a tape.

The bottom of the drawer unit is 3/8″ maple veneered mdf and is simply glued on directly to the frame of the drawer unit. But as I only had 1/2″ I had to thin it down to 3/8″ using my belt sander. In the first pic you can see two pieces of scrap in the foreground which when thicknessed will become the moldings.

After thicknessing to 1/2″ they were passed over a 1/4″ radius cutter on my table router to make a half round, then this was cut off on the table saw leaving perfect half moon moldings for edging the mdf base.

Ripping off the half moon molding

Molding pinned and glued in place

All the moldings applied, You may have noticed the varnish on the mdf, well I only had some mahogany stain varnish ๐Ÿ˜ณ but I thought it more prudent to seal the mdf before it gets a chance to warp. ๐Ÿ˜†

Drawer runners and gussets fitted

A close up of a drawer runner

Close up of a gusset. The drilled hole in the gusset is to fix the top, directly below that hole in the bottom of the unit is another larger hole enabling me to get to the screws when I position the top.

Directly below the left hand clamp head you can see the larger hole that will allow me to fix the top on later.

Holes drilled to take the base, the big holes are the ones to get a screwdriver through to attach the top.

The drawer unit gets screwed to the legs.

Starting The Drawer.

Half blind dovetails started. Extreme care needed on the length of the drawer because it has two fronts to line up, so using half blind dovetails adds to the chaos. ๐Ÿ™‚

Two down, another six to go.

Dry fitting the first joint, three more to go.

All four corners done and here I’m dry fitting the sides to the fronts.

Grove dado or housing joint call it what you like ๐Ÿ™‚ cut in all the four sides for the bottom panel, using the router table. The grove on the fronts are blind so you can’t see them when assembled.

All glued up and ready for a sanding.

Sanded and in place, I added a chamfer to the lower edge and sides of the front to give the illusion of a gap all round.

Maple veneered mdf cut to 18″ square.

American Black Walnut edging for the top that’s been routed to shape ready for gluing to the mdf board.

The Sycamore board has been thicknessed to 20mm thick and in this pic I’m ripping strips of 6mm strips.

Next thing was to sand both sides of the strips sanding them to a final 4mm thick.

Then to round off the front edge I passed all the strips across part of an ogee cutter using just a tiny bit of the cutter blade.

Finally with all the strips cut to length and the ends mitred I glued them in place one at a time to the drawer fronts using just glue, no pins.

I just need to wait a while, sand it down a fit the drawer. ๐Ÿ™‚

The drawer is now what you might describe as air tight ๐Ÿ™‚

A closer view

The wood that will become the squares of the top. All pieces have been thicknessed to 1/2″ but will eventually end up nearer 3/8″ or less.

All the sycamore and walnut has been cut to width, I decided to glue them up in two sections to stop any bowing.

The two halves get glued together.

Cutting the strips off.

Dry fitted to check everything is good.

As before I glued up in two halves to stop any bowing.

Both halves glued together, next a very light sanding on the bottom and it can be glued to the mdf panel for extra strength.

As the stringing is only 3mm square I needed to give it a base, here I’m adding the first piece of the base.

Base done, you can see in this pic I’ve already glued ebony to some sycamore and this in turn now needs to be glued to the base.

Shooting a mitre on the stringing.

First piece glued in.

All four pieces of stringing fitted.

During all this glue up and being an impatient type I thought I might as well give the table a coat of cellulose sanding sealer.
So here’s a glimps of what it might look like when finished properly, next job is to wire wool it off ๐Ÿ™‚

Two pieces of molding fitted to the base for the top.

The top edge is 1/2″ thick and I need to add a molding to match what is fitted the lower edge of the drawer unit.
But I want to leave a clear distinct line of the upper edge.

So I thicknessed some off cuts to 3/8″ and used part of an ogee cutter to get as near a radius to match a 3/16″ radius as I could.

After ripping the edges off and a little light hand sanding, job done.

I needed to knock up a heath robinson style jig to hold the moldings so I could shoot the mitres

First piece gets glued into place, you can clearly see the distinct upper edge I wanted to leave.

The checquers have been glued in and the molding around the edge is fitted and all have received a coat of cellulose and been rubbed back with fine wirewool. next step is to either fit it to the base or start putting the danish oil finish on.

Fitting the top

With a long phillips screwdriver going right through the drawer cabinet I’m marking the top where to drill pilot holes.

Applying the finish

Top attached and first coat of danish oil applied.

Taken outside just to show the true colours

The finish of one coat of cellulose sanding sealer cut back with 0000 wirewool, Then two coats of danish oil both cut back with wire wool, lastly a thick coat of paste wax (Black Bison) applied with wire wool then buffed off with a clean cotton cloth.

With the Drawer Open

Check Mate
The Last Picture


Addendum to the chess table drawer

So I decided on making a divider for all the chess pieces.
Here in this pic I’ve knocked up a jig to use a 6mm cutter to slot all the wood, the wood is all 6mm thick.

All the pieces cut and ready for a dry assembly.

How it looks assembled dry.

Fitted in the drawer still unglued it was obvious that it need not be as deep.

So I ripped 1/2″ off the depth, here still unglued I’m trying it out for size.

The grid in this pic is glued up but not glued to the drawer, however the little blocks you can see in this are glued to the drawer, these are to hold all the chess pieces level.
Next step is to remove the grid and flock the base of the drawer.

A liberal coat of PVA glue and a good coat of flock sprinkled all over the base. I’ll leave it for a day or so then clean off the surplus flock, then I’ll be ready to replace the frame divider.

Well I didn’t like the green flock finish so I scraped it off and decided to cover it with a burgandy coloured felt. I think anyone would agree it looks a lot better

That’s it the drawer in finished and I’m happy with it ๐Ÿ™‚

The final pic of the build

Finished, Mission accomplished, achieved, all over, all over but the shouting, concluded, done, done with, ended, fini, terminated, that’s it, through.

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