Bowed chess board...would like to find a big planer


Hi all. A chessboard I had made for me is quite bowed, and I'd like to fix it. It is big though--almost 22" square. The stock is thick enough that I think this could be corrected.
Can I find a planer at a furniture shop so big? Otherwise it looks like a lot of sanding is in my future.
Getting it flat by hand: I was thinking of glueing the sand paper on a board and then placing my chessboard face-down and moving it back and forth for a few weeks. I don't have a better idea on getting it flat, and I probably can't hold a belt sander at the right angle to fix the board and not ruin it with wrong and excessive removal.
I'm hardly a woodworker so a better solution is always welcome.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

I think your first step ought to be to talk to the guy who made it for you, and see what he can/will do to fix it.

Possible, but somewhat doubtful. You're *much* more likely to find a cabinet shop, or hardwood dealer, with a thickness sander wide enough to handle that. Post your location here, and I'll bet somebody chimes in to tell you who to contact.
You probably don't want to plane it anyway. Chessboards are usually built with the wood grain in the dark and light squares mutually perpendicular, like this:
||==||==||==||===||==||==||==|| ||==||==||==||===||==||==||==|| etc
and no matter how you plane that (except diagonally, in which case you'd need a 30" planer) you're going to get some tearout. A sander avoids that problem.
Probably, it will be necessary to shim it on the bottom side as it goes through the sander, to keep it stable and level. After one side is sanded flat, turn it over and sand the other side too. Try to remove an equal amount of wood from each face; otherwise, it's likely to cup again.
Once it's flat, you should use a random-orbit sander to remove the ridges and grooves left by the thickness sander. I'd start out with 100-grit sandpaper, then 150, and then 220. Apply the finish of your choice, and you're done.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Miller wrote:

for you,

like
cabinet
handle that.

who to

built with

like
you'd need

problem.
goes
sanded
equal amount

ridges and

sandpaper,
done.
Thanks. I have some cabinet shops not so far away from me. Thanks for the advice.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Miller wrote:

Doug, do you know why this is so? Is it appearance, or structural? My first thought was that reversing the grain would introduce more strain from expansion/contraction. Rob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
All my commercial board have the light/dark grains in the same direction. Ditto all the pics of boards I have on my hard drive.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
All my commercial board have the light/dark grains in the same direction. Ditto all the pics of boards I have on my hard drive.
Trying to place the grains perpendicular is a try, I think, at getting a better adhesive bond.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Appearance.
It does.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

to
enough
like
a
The suggestion about finding someone with a big thickness sander is a good one. How thick is this chessboard? Which way is it bowed? You are going to have to take material off of the top AND the bottom if you want both to be flat when you're done.
JLarsson
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It was somewhere outside Barstow when snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

What's it made of ? If it's veneered, then you'll take the surface off it and lose the board.
If it's made from glued up solid blocks, then it shouldn't have warped so much. This type would be thicknessable to flatten it, but then it shouldn't need to have it done.
What's it made of, and how much bow is there ?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I made a chessboard that twisted just a little and made it uneven when I placed it on a table. I put it under my television and over time it became flat again.
m.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You could also take it to a lumber yard that has a mill shop. They have big sanders there that could do the job for you at minimal cost.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Andy Dingley wrote:

warped
Hmmm, about 1/4" bow. The board is 3/4 walnut and soft maple. There should be enough thickness that it could be fixed.
Why the bow? Maybe the amateur board maker didn't use seasoned wood, and he didn't quite sand it flat either.
I've read that finishing the playing surface but not the underside can induce stresses? The bottom panel looks like ash to me and is unfinished.
Well, I got it for cheap. I hope one pass at fixing it will be enough.
I'm an avid chess player and I really enjoy fine pieces and boards (I don't know how many thousands of hours I have left to stare at a chess board in my life but I'd like a nice board to size-match my nice House of Staunton Collector pieces).
I maybe ought to have a professional (instead of my good-natured eBay contact above) make my next board to my specs, and get a guarantee against warping and splitting, etc..
Live and learn I guess. I knew I was taking a chance going the cheap route. Apart from the bowing the board was quite good for its colors, contrast, geometric precision of the squares, and satin finish though. A good practical board for a "serious" player.
That can run from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand, depending on materials--or more for boards that use exotics like Brazilian Rosewood, which I don't have to have.
Anyone interested can poke around here for what HOS buys for its customers:
http://www.houseofstaunton.com/board5.html
HOS gets some of its boards from Europe and some from domestic makers. When the pricetag rises above $200 you begin to get away from veneers.
This one I like, a simple and traditional design:
http://www.houseofstaunton.com/boards/SigTradPH25x.jpg
but $1000 seems a lot for it, even if there is a lot of purpleheart in it. Maybe an experienced woodworker could look at it and say that's a reasonable price.
Thanks for your time, Andy.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It was somewhere outside Barstow when snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

My question was really "Why did it bow".
Most chessboards I've seen have been made in one of two ways; sheetgoods (plywood, MDF, etc.) with veneer on it. Or else glued-together blocks of contrasting timber. Now the glued-block form may well distort, especially if poorly seasoned, but because it's small block it should form small per-block ripples, more than one big curve.

That's certainly a bad idea. The finish doesn't stress it, but it changes the moisture absorbency. If one side is wetter than the other, then that will certainly cause warping.

Bottom panel ? So this board sounds like a 2-ply lamination. "Chequered" on the top (squares of contrasting timber), and a layer of solid underneath. Now this construction is just a bad idea from the outset - a two-sided lamination like this is asymmetric and will _never_ be stable.
If you're going for this sort of construction, make it in 3 layers. Duplicate the top layer on the bottom layer as well - it needn't be chequered, but a plain veneer or one of the timbers would certainly be a structurally good idea.
IMHE it's not worth repairing game boards like this. They either work right from the start, or they're never going to work, no matter what you do to them afterwards. Sand it flat in the winter and it might just warp back the other way come summer. If it went wrong at all, it's because the construction technique was wrong to begin with.
I'm not a chess player, but I do play go and make boards for it. If you think chess boards can be expensive at the high end, you haven't seen what a "good" goban sells for !
IMHE, there are two ways I make goban. One is traditional - take a huge slab of a perfect tree, dry it carefully for years, then finish the top surface beautifully by hand work. Some of these were traditionally a "low table" in themselves, several inches thick and with small feet so that they make the right playing height when kneeling alongside.
Alternatively, veneer some MDF. This makes a _great_ board and is little more than an exercise in simple plain veneering. MDF is simple to work with, stable against warping and when around an inch thick it has sufficient mass to be stable when playing. Go is a bit more tactile than chess - the "feel" of the board is important when placing stones. As before, veneer both top and bottom equally.
As a "thin" board (i.e. under 1") then I'd rather play on an MDF board with a plain veneer top than on a solid timber board.
--
Inbreeding - nature's way of always giving you enough fingers to count your
cousins
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
As you say, it may just be a lost cause. I'll give it some time though--partially out of curiosity and a seed of hope here and there.
I'll get a pro to make my next board, but I may attempt one or two on my own in the meantime. What do you think about cutting up some craft maple/walnut and press gluing to mdf,,,assuming I can cut excellent squares by clamping my fence down.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It was somewhere outside Barstow when snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

There are very few pros who do interesting veneer work. Antique restorers and clockmakers do, but production furniture just rarely has the time or budget for it, other than on a factory-process scale. Some of the best veneer people around are strictly amateur hobbyists doing marquetry work. There's no reason you can't do just as good a job yourself.

If you veneer it, veneer both sides.
Personally I like traditional hot hide glue and hammer veneering, rather than lots of presses. Presses are quite easy though.
Veneer should be easy to obtain, but "craft" is usually shorthand for overpriced. Any wood mag should have adverts for veneer supplies at better prices. My supplier also sells very cheap "bargain boxes" of 6" - 12" long veneer trimmings at around 1/4 price of long sheets. If you're working small pieces such as chessboard squares, then these are great.
Veneered MDF is a great material and quite cheap to work with. Plan to make a few, just get in there and make them quickly - if they don't work out, throw them away and make another. You'll pick up the skill more quickly than by agonising over trying to be perfect first time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Check out the current issue of Wood magazine.
They have an article on how to flaten any board using a router and a pretty simple jig.
This would get it down pretty quickly compared to sanding with a hand sander.
Lou

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com wrote:

I'm curious--do you just need to flatten the bottom so it doesn't rock or is it bowed enough that the pieces move around and you have to flatten the top as well? If the latter, then consider that the playing surface is almost certainly veneer and likely only a fraction of an inch thick.
There are shops around with planers big enough to handle stock 22" wide. Best bet is to call around.
Might do better to put it on a flat surface with some weight.
--
--John
to email, dial "usenet" and validate
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
J. Clarke wrote:

rock or is

the top

almost
wide.
Hi John,
Both top and bottom need flattening. I already flattened the bottom (just the bottom of the frame needed it; it has a recessed panel). The bottom has bowed since then and I think the top as well. Maybe I accelerated that process by removing material from the bottom of the frame?
As I said above, the squares are 3/4 walnut and soft maple, the frame 3/4 soft maple, the panel looks like ash.
I'll give some effort over time and try to fix it. If the wood doesn't move over several months I'll put a finish on it.
If all goes well I guess I should finish the underside panel as well or face the same problem later as leaving just the top finished may induce stress?
Thanks for your reply John.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Here's what concerns me as the plot thickens... This board is continuing to move. So yes - if you take material away you are just going to make it easier for the board to move again, and possibly more. You've got to address the underlying problem before you can deal with the impact of that problem.
- How old is this board? Perhaps it needs drying time. If so, then don't take any more material off. You can only hope that it will not move past a point that you can save it after it reaches it's stability level.
- Any idea how well dried the wood was when it was built? Knowing this will at least get you barking up the right tree. As well, you may have a recourse against the person or company from whom you bought the board. Don't know, but it's worth investigating.
- How humid or dry is the area where you live? This is going to give you an idea how likely it is that excessive movement is a result of your environment, which could possibly point to other relief techniques. For example, if you suffer some pretty large swings in RH you can expect some pretty significant movement in your wood. Sealing the surfaces all the way around may provide the ultimate solution for you, but you also may find that having someone cut a kerf around the outside perimeter of the playing surface to provide relief for wood movement will work. I'm not suggesting that approach, I am just trying to suggest alternatives that could be as different as night and day which will be based on a number of factors including your environment.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com says...

If the board has unfinished solid wood, then that is probably why it warped. If the bottom panel was unfinished solid ash, then it would expand and contract across the grain making warp inevitable. A plywood base might have actually been more stable, but in any case the builder should have sealed the board top and bottom to minimize moisture exchange with varying humidity. If you flatten it and leave part of it still unfinished, then it will likely warp again. Your best bet is to flatten it, and seal any exposed wood with shellac. Unfinished wood may be the root of your problem--don't leave it that way for long. But if for any reason you want to remove Shellac, you can with some denatured alcohol and elbow grease. Shellac would be a good choice for a finish on a chessboard, and is an excellent base coat for just about any other finish.
You might want to try exposing it to differing humidity levels to see if it straightens out some. A cheap humidifier, if you don't already have one, in a small room could raise the humidity, and raising the heat in a small space can lower it. Of course the effects, if any, could take a while to see. I haven't actually tried this, but in theory it may bring the board back to a condition more like when it was new. You may be able to guess if it gained or lost moisture from the warp. If the board has a concave warp, then it probably gained moisture, and vice versa for convex. Of course, it could be inherently unstable since it is basically a two-ply laminate of very different wood layers. You may want to seal it and leave it in the conditions where it will spend most of its time for a good long while and let it finish doing its thing and then flatten it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.