Regulation Size End Grain Chess Board with Gold Leaf

Regulation Size End Grain Chess Board with Gold Leaf


Several viewers have reached out to me
and asked me to make them custom chess boards based on a couple of other videos
that I released earlier this year. I’m gonna batch out four of them at the same time in this video but I’m gonna feature one that the client has requested me to
frame and then to hand-carve his intials and then apply a gold leaf. So, when I bath them out together that saves me a little bit of time and saves
a little bit of material waste, as well. I’m gonna make the chess boards out of
walnut and ash and you can see that the ash is pretty severely cupped. So, I’m
gonna run that through the planer with a concave side of the cup face down. It
doesn’t have to be perfect and I’m not gonna worry about jointing it right now;
I just want it to be flat enough that I can run it through the table saw to cut
it into the individual lengths for the chess squares. I only need about 15
inches of length for an entire chess board so I’m cutting these to be about
60 inches long and that way I’ll have enough material to make all four chess
boards. At this point, I’m just rough cutting everything to the approximate size and then I’m going to run these pieces through the jointer and then
through the planer to get the exact dimension that I want. Now running these through the jointer I
want to get two sides of the board flat and square and then I can run the other
two sides through the planer. When I’m running them through the planer,
I want them to be oversized in one dimension because I’m going to run them
through the sander afterward and in the other dimension, I want them to be the
exact size of the square. So, if I was making a 2 1/4″ square, I
want them to be 2 1/4″ in one dimension and in the other
direction I want it to be about 2 3/8″. I don’t want to skimp on the glue
because this is the time to get it all glued up properly. And then when I
put the pieces together I’ll wipe off the excess with a damp rag before I
clamp it I want to put a couple of cauls on
the top and bottom to make sure that the boards glue up flat — or relatively flat. So, this is the dimension that I planed
to be oversized so when I run it through the sander I’m gonna be able to sand it
down to the exact dimension of the square that I want. Now, I should mention that the two pieces
on the end are oversized in both dimensions. That way, after I glue up the
chessboard, I’ll have a little bit of excess that I can cut off to make it all
square in the end. Now, this first glued-up board is pretty
heavy and pretty long, so when I set it on my crosscut sled it had a tendency to
tip off. So, I’m using a dumbbell that’s heavy enough to hold it in place while I
run it through the table saw and I can cut the individual pieces for the next
glue up. I have a stop block clamped to the fence of the crosscut sled. That
way, each piece that I’m cutting is going to be the same size. I know my
fingers looked really close to that spinning blade, but the camera angle can
be deceiving. They really were not that close. Now it’s time for the next
glue up of the four different chess boards. I put down parchment paper to
prevent the boards from sticking to the table because it’s going to be a lot of
squeeze out in this glue up I used cauls on one end just to help
get everything in line before I clamp it up. After the glue has cured, I’m gonna
run it through the drum sander to get it down to the final thickness of the chess
board. It’s important to keep the sanding
belt as clean as possible while you’re doing the sanding to maximize the life
of the sanding belt. Now I’m preparing the boards for the
frame. I’ve already cut and planed these boards and what I’m doing now is
I’m running a dado down the middle and that’s where I’m going to place edge
banding using tiger maple. I’ll just cut a thin little piece of
tiger maple off this board and then run it through the sander until it fits into
the slot. I’ll glue that up and let it sit
overnight and then the next day I can trim it off on the table saw. Next, I’m going to miter the corners at
45 degrees. Then I’m gonna cut a dado down the
middle of the chessboard on all four edges and then the frame is going to
insert into that slot. So, in this case I’m making a 2 1/2″ frame and I have a 1/2″ that’s going to fit into the slot that’s on the chess board. Now that I have the frame pieces cut I’m
gonna use mortise and tenon joinery to strengthen the corners. I’m using a
mortising jig that I saw on a Fine Woodworking YouTube video and I’ll put a
link to that in the description if you want to make one of those for yourself. I’m going to use floating tenons to
join the pieces together so it doesn’t matter it is exactly where I put them as
long as they match up with the mating piece. For these mortises I haven’t
set up any stop blocks because every time I change one of the frame pieces in
and out of the jig, I’d have to reposition the stop blocks
again so I’m just doing it freehand. I’ve already milled some walnut down to
the thickness of the mortise and now I’m just using my belt sander to round the
corners so that it fits into the mortise You could also do this with a router but I
think sanding by hand is fine. Now I’ll use that piece to cut the
individual tenons on the bandsaw. After cutting them I’m going to
smooth the ends to remove all the “fuzzies.” Another feature of this frame is
that it’s going to have a brass border. I’m adjusting the fence very carefully
on this first piece to make it perfectly sized rabbet to hold the brass bar and
once I’ve got it set up then I can run the other pieces through fairly quickly. Now that all the frame pieces are
prepared and properly sized it’s time to start carving the initials. In this case my client’s first name
is Sam but his initials also spell SAM so that’s pretty cool. I just slipped a piece of carbon paper under the initials that I printed on the computer and now I’m gonna trace it by hand but, for any of the straight lines, I found it easier and faster to use a ruler to make sure they get really straight Now it’s time to do the carving and it
may look daunting if you’ve never done anything like this before but it’s
really not that difficult. It just takes patience and you need to proceed carefully to make sure that you don’t accidentally slip outside the lines and
then it’s hard to recover from that. For almost all of this carving I’m
just using a V gouge. I’m using my right hand to push forward
and the fingers on my left hand are helping to control the motion so that I
don’t go outside the lines. My hands were pretty wet while I was
carving because it was almost 100 degrees F in my workshop — probably around
37 or 38 degrees Celsius. When you’re applying gold leaf, the
smoother the surface you’re applying it to, the better results you’re going to
get, so I’m using some little Dremel bits just in my hand just to remove any burrs
and to smooth the surface as much as possible. This takes patience, as well. You
really don’t want to take any shortcuts because surface preparation makes all
the difference. Next, I’m getting ready to cut the brass bars so I’m making this little jig out of a piece of wood and I’m cutting a slot down the middle that’s the same thickness as the copper bar, which is 1/8″. Next, I’m using this old-fashioned miter
saw to cut a 45-degree slot in the end and the reason I’m using this saw is it
has a very thin kerf on the blade and that’s where my Dremel cutting blade is
going to fit into. I bought this set of Dremel cutting
blades and I’m gonna use the thinnest one. I thought that was the best solution
for cutting big brass bars. So, I’m gonna take the bar and mark where the corner needs to be and then I’m gonna cut off the piece at a 45 degree angle using the
Dremel cutter. It doesn’t need to be exact because I’m gonna finish it up on the grinding wheel You want to be careful that you don’t
overheat it so I dip it in water when it gets a little hot. I’m doing a test fit
and I’m proceeding very carefully because it only takes a second or two to
grind off too much material and then you have to start over again. After cutting that first piece of brass,
now I’m clamping the pieces of frame to the board and that way everything is
going to be sized correctly as if it’s already glued up. After clamping it together, I was kind of
worried that I wasn’t gonna be able to get it apart especially now that the
brass pieces are in place. Without the brass pieces, I would have been able to
insert a screwdriver and carefully nudge it apart. But, with the brass in there,
there’s no place to do that so I’m gonna use a trick where I’m going to use one
of my pipe clamps and reverse it and use that to put pressure on two C clamps
that I’ve got attached to the frame pieces and that will gently push it apart. Now it’s time to glue everything up and
I’m gonna start by using epoxy to glue in the brass bars and my supply of epoxy
from Total Boat is looking a little grungy because it’s got sawdust that’s
stuck to some of the old epoxy on the outside but nevertheless everything
that’s inside the container is very clean and still works really really well.
I really like using this pump system it makes it so easy to measure instead
of guessing at the amounts. I’ll mix it up really well and then
I’ll mix it up even some more because it’s important to have it all thoroughly
mixed together. I want to apply plenty of glue onto
the mitered corners because this is practically end grain — it’s a cross
between end grain and long grain but end grain does not glue up very well because it just sucks the glue into the wood. So, I actually didn’t show this on camera,
but I actually put two coats of glue on before I stuck everything together
because the first coat actually did get sucked right into the wood. I’m putting a little dab of glue
only in the center of each of the frame pieces and that will allow for expansion
and contraction of the chessboard I clamped everything up and now I’m
using cauls on the corners to make sure that the top and bottom surfaces of the
frame pieces are lined up. Now I’m sanding everything starting
with 80 grit and working my way up all the way to 220 grit. Next, I’m at the router table and
I’m cutting finger slots on the two sides. Now it’s time for the gilding and I’m
gonna start by applying this burnish sealer. This is a yellow — almost like a
primer — that seals the wood and prepares it for the next step which is to apply
the sizing. After I apply this sealer I’m
gonna let it sit for 24 hours so that it can fully cure. After that’s cured I’m
gonna sand off the excess and next I’m going to apply the sizing and this is an
oil-based sizing which is an adhesive for the gold leaf. Ideally I’d want to paint this just where the gold leaf has to be applied
but these lines are pretty thin so it was pretty difficult to paint just
between the lines and I let that sit for about one and a half hours to get tacky. Now I’m applying the gold leaf just
by tapping it with a brush. Then I removed the excess with a brush. I used only one sheet of gold leaf
for this so it’s really not very expensive because gold leaf is sold in packs of 25 sheets for roughly $30 so it cost about $1 for the gold leaf for this. At this point the brass rods don’t look
very good because they look all scratchy from the 220 grit sandpaper that I used
so now I’m gonna use these ultra fine scuff pads and they’re equivalent to
1500 grit sandpaper so I’m just gonna rub that back and forth on the brass and
that’s gonna polish it and make it look nice and shiny. Now it’s time for the finish I’m
gonna start with dewaxed shellac. This is a nice finish to work
with. It penetrates into the wood very quickly and it dries very quickly. That’s just the first coat. After it
dries, I will sand it lightly with 600 grit sandpaper and then I will apply
five or six coats of urethane. I’m starting with a gloss urethane and I
will build up five coats and then for the sixth coat I’ll use a semi-gloss
urethane finish. After the varnish is cured then I will
hand rub it with a mixture of paraffin oil and pumice stone. This really smooths out the finish that
removes some of the gloss and gives it a nice hand rubbed look. Then at the very end I will apply a
coat of paste wax and then polish it off. Here are a few shots of the final
product. I think it looks pretty good. So, I gotta ask…. Would YOU make it?

23 thoughts on “Regulation Size End Grain Chess Board with Gold Leaf

  1. Great looking board. I'm concerned that you haven't accounted for wood movement though. It feels like you have boxed in that board and during seasonal changes you might get some joint failures.

  2. Really beautiful job. I've done a end grain cutting board and I know how problematical it can be. Let alone adding an outside skirt.

  3. Amazing video.. You are a true artist as well as being an engineer!
    Thankyou for also converting fahrenheit to celsius for us Canadians…LOL
    Why was your last coat a semi-gloss finish?

  4. Fantastic piece. Looks beautiful. I kept waiting for Snoopy and Charlie Brown to make an appearance while your background music was playing.

  5. Wonderful. Its obvious you've been doing this for a very long time and you know your tools well. It was a pleasure to watch you work.

    I was hired to make a cocobolo and figured pear wood chess board with a live edge border and katalox accents a few years back. This piece reminds me of that job. But I ended up making the top layer of wood only about 1/8 thick and gluing it to a MDF backer to keep it stable. Wood movement is always a concern with chess boards but I was able to see it a few months ago and it is surprising as flat and smooth as the day I sanded it. I'm sure the chess board you made in this video will be perfect as long as they don't leave it in an uninsulated storage unit or garage for an extended period of time.

    I'm going to sub to the channel. I really appreciate you letting us in your shop

  6. That was the one of the SICKEST works of art I have ever seen. WOW!! I have taught chess for years and, just WOW!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *