Endgrain chessboard and set project

The idea of building a whole chessboard with drawers and the associated chess set has been on my mind for the past five years or so. What held me back was the misconception that the board had to be completed using techniques in marketry, which I did not yet know about. But it suddenly occured to me that going with an endgrain board would make things possible while also adding value and beauty to the finished piece.


For those of you who are not familiar with the technique, it consists of cutting wood strips, gluing them together, cutting them again and turning the grain so it sits in a vertical position whereas traditional, simpler glue ups have the grain lying flat. As all the fibres are upright, the endgrain board is much more durable, especially in the case of cutting boards. However, in the case of a chessboard, the purpose of choosing endgrain is mainly for aesthetic reasons.

I must also mention the fact an endgrain glue up allows the wood to shrink without having as much of an impact on the case as a traditional flatgrain glue up would. However, sanding an endgrain board requires a tremendous amount of sanding, given that all the fibres work against the sandpaper. Planning is thus most necessary prior to cutting the wood for the project.

Here, as my planer is safer to use with pieces that are 12 inches long or more, I decided to put together a glue up that would allow me to build two chessboards. The steps were as follows:

1-Selection of two contrasting woods in 2-inch stock. I went for black walnut and rock maple.

2- Jointing and planing of two adjacent faces of each board.

3- resawing the boards into 8 sections of 2*2*18 (4 pale pieces, 4 dark ones)

4- gluing the pieces while alternating the pale and dark ones. This forms a board that is 2 inches thick, 18 inches long and about 16 inches wide.

5- squaring one end of the board on the tablesaw, using the miter gage

6- cross cutting 3/4 inch sections. It takes eight 16*2*3/4 sections to obtain a full chessboard.

Tranches de 3/4 po.

7-sanding of the faces prior to gluing, as necessary. Gluing by alternating colors (flip every other 16*2*3/4 slice) to form a 3/4 inch thick board (16 l*16 w)

Les tranches en alternance avant collage

Le panneau au collage

8- sanding, sanding and sanding.

That’s it for the chessboard section.




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