A novel way to make trays for chessmen...

I needed to make some kind of froofy storage for my chess pieces. One thought was to just Forstner some holes in a block, and leave the pieces standing up inside the rather large box I built. I also considered various trace/cutout routes designed to have the pieces lay flat.
After I put the velvet in the box, the flat idea won out. I spent a couple of hours fooling around with ways to get the cutouts made with the tools I had available (no scrollsaw or bandsaw, and my jigsaw is pretty lame...) including trying to hog out some shapes with paring chisels.
I was getting pretty frustrated with my results, and was about to give up when I had a marvelous idea.
I cut two boards at king height, and two boards at pawn height, both to the width required to fit into my box. I bored and marked sizing holes in a piece of scrap. I determined what size bit to use for the bases, then I picked out the best fit for the widest part of each piece, with the king requiring a third size for the cross.
After picking my bits, I clamped two of the king boards together. I laid out the pieces by eyeball for the best fit, then traced them. I set up a fence to ensure that I would be going precisely down the center. Next, I bored the base holes first, taking care to use backup blocks and to keep a pair of clamps right where the action was. After boring down until the Forstner bit was flush with the wood surface, I switched to all the secondary bits in turn, using the dimple from the first bit as a reference.
I determined the depth I needed by frequently test fitting. Once I could drop a piece of the correct type into the hole with 1/16" of extra space at the bottom, I set the depth adjustment on my drill press so that I could bore the other hole(s) to the same depth. I continued in this fashion until I had bored holes for all the pieces, and then I repeated the process for the pawns.
I went back with a chisel and made some minor adjustments to the spaces for the king and knights. Then I cut off a bottom piece, bored holes for a couple of dowels in each set of trays, then glued and clamped everything together. When the glue was dry, I planed both trays to roughly level up the surface.
Then I made judicious use of Aileen's tacky glue and carefully attached some red velvet. After doing this, I realized that the edges looked stupid. I had cut them too close to size to have room for even a 1/4" tray surrounding them, so I made little edge wrappers out of aluminum angle iron.
I didn't get all the wrinkles out of the velvet. The pieces protrude a bit more than I would have liked, and these recesses don't have the sharp, form-fitting look I could have achieved with one of the sawing methods. Brass would have been better, and it would look better if I hadn't had to pop rivet corner pieces on, but all in all they look pretty damn presentable in spite of the flaws. I open up this box and I can't believe I actually MADE this thing. It looks awesome!
Best of all, I think spending two weeks making a chess set (well, all but the pieces) has done wonders for my game. I slaughtered Dad tonight, trying out my new baby. It's about damn time!
I'm going to borrow a digital camera tomorrow and post some pictures. I don't have shots of the work in progress, but I'll photograph some early prototypes to put some pictures behind these words.
Anybody with a scroll or other suitable curvy cutting saw would probably do better to use a more traditional method for this, but if all you have is a drill press and some Forstner bits (or spade bits, hole saws, etc...) then this technique yields pretty impressive results IMHO.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
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A way I read about not too long ago to store them in the drawer of a board box was to use molding pieces (the proper term escapes me) - the molding would be similar to taking a 1x1 piece of stock for instance, drilling down the center lengthwise with a forstner bit, then cutting lengthwise into 2 pieces - glueing them side by side into the drawer, then covering with velvet. A small dowel pin was used as a means of keeping the short pieces from sliding along the length of the molding.
Silvan wrote:

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