From our Fall 2021 Woodcraft Catalog, we featured a short scoop on a Checkerboard build with one of our interns, Nikhil Narwani. Although his only woodworking experience was in the novice category of woodturning pens, he wanted to take this opportunity to learn more. No better time and place to add to his resume with this experience, than with Woodcraft and its staff of experienced woodworkers both at the Parkersburg Woodcraft store and from our corporate office. You can have fun being the “King” of the workshop with this enjoyable project build and in playing the game; it’s a win-win for everyone!
Creating this checkerboard is a project that combines the use of hand tools, power tools, CNC skills and epoxy design accents for both the board and checker pieces. The checkerboard is built typical to a cutting board style. Follow along to learn how this was created and make one for yourself or gift it to someone who will certainly appreciate your handcrafted artistry and loves the game too!
Since the checker pieces involve a little more time for the resin to cure, we began creating twenty-four checker pieces first. Twelve in walnut, and twelve in curly maple for defining opposing player contrast. The “Pawn” sides are left plain and the flip sides are cut on our Next Wave Shark SD100 CNC Machine with a starred cavity design. Nikhil attached a spoil board and stops to the CNC so he could position the pieces in the same spot repetitively for engraving the stars.
Alumilite Clear Cast epoxy coat was applied to the star cutouts inside walls and floor to seal the grain first, and let dry. The star cavities were then filled with two different dye colors; in this case 12 blue and 12 white, with some added Pearl Powder, to designate the “King” level of the game pieces for each player, and let cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The star epoxy filled panels were set back up on the CNC and programmed to cut out the individual checker rounds, leaving three tabs to hand chisel out, which held the pieces centered during the relief cuts.
Moving on to the checker board build, Nikhil learned to prep and dress rough lumber. The final board will measure 16-3/4 inch square by 5/8 inch thick. The checker pieces are 1-1/2 inches in diameter by 1/2 inches thick.
Using the Japanese pull saw, jointer, planer, table saw, and drum sander, he dimensioned lumber, ripped strips for the board, clamped and glued them together, made crosscuts, and once again clamped and glued them back together to make the final checkerboard design.
These four dado cuts measure 1/2 inch centered from the edge, 1/4 inch wide and 3/16" deep. The same blue and white dye colors were poured into the grooves to aesthetically match the checker pieces, bringing the set together. Nikhil finished with the Abranet hook and loop sanding pack on the Mirka RO Sander, and applied Osmo satin clear wood wax finish for its durability to hold up well on a game board. Watch as the Osmo finish brings the grain to life!
The game is "afoot", or shall we say, at hand! Checkers anyone?