Substrate for a chess board

I'm going to make a chessboard and pieces for my son for Christmas. I know how to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.
I have all the white pieces turned so far, man, that took some time. Why do I always wait until December to start this stuff...
-Jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 12/12/2011 3:28 PM, jtpr wrote:

to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.

Sorry ... it's against federal regulations to use anything but hard maple! You might accidentally drop a chip 'n dip on it between moves. :)
--
www.eWoodShop.com
Last update: 4/15/2010
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

how to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.

Uh, oh! Wait'll Snomy sees that...
-- Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark.
In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach.
The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours. -- Ayn Rand
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm going to make a chessboard and pieces for my son for Christmas. I know how to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.
I have all the white pieces turned so far, man, that took some time. Why do I always wait until December to start this stuff...
-Jim
May I suggest that you use thinner material for the squares.... I just repaired a large chess board for a school fund raising auction (I get tagged with this kind of stuff all the time... ) The primary problem was the squares were too thick and cupped to the point that the edges pulled away from the substrate. I ended up hand planning and scraping the squares and regluing them. I also had to replace one dark square that kind of disintegrated. By the time I finished the job the squares were probably 1/2 as thick as they were when I started. I must have done OK as the set pulled in $300 at the auction--I have to admit the pieces were nice. ;~)
Think in terms of thick veneer (no more than an 1/16"-1/8") when you do your board and I think you will end up with better results.
You didn't mention how you are edging the board... you could use 5 MM luan as the substrate if you treat the board as a panel within a frame. veneer the bottom for appearance. I wouldn't use solid wood as a substrate due to the movement...
John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 12 Dec 2011 17:55:58 -0500, "John Grossbohlin"

The BEST way to do it, stability-wize, is to use thin hardwood ply for the back, and thin hardwood ply squares. Make the back slightly smaller than the playing surface and make a "set in" frame of hardwood to surround it. You rabbet the top of the frame to accept the squares, and miter the corners to get a nice tight fit around the playing surface. A bit of a gap on the backside is OK - glue felt on the back and you are done. Using a router on the top )and bottom if you like) edges of the frame pretties it up - or simply "break" the edge with a sanding block.
If you take your time you can make the frame fit as well on the bottom as on the top and just varnish the whole thing - doing away with the felt.
Guaranteed it will never warp and the squares won't lift (as long as you use decent glue)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You can use Maple and Walnut legally in this application. However, maybe you want to float the chess board over the substrate. Make a frame around the sides that lips over the board allowing it to expand and contract like a panel in a frame.
Just a though but I think it could be done in a beautiful manner somehow.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 12/12/2011 3:28 PM, jtpr wrote:

to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.

An mdf substrate would be perfect for this application, IME ...
--
www.eWoodShop.com
Last update: 4/15/2010
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

how to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.

Another trick that works when making chess boards is to slightly back-cut the squares - make the bottoms just a tiny bit smaller than the tops - so when you assemble the board the joints are TIGHT at the top (surface) even with a layer of glue between the edges. The glue will keep the peices from moving - good glue is stronger than the wood it is fastening.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

how to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.

Stained and polyed, of course.
-- Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark.
In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach.
The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours. -- Ayn Rand
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

to make the chessboard, but I'm not clear on what would be a good substrate. I was going to use 3/4 maple and walnut, then glue it all onto a piece of 3/4 or 1/2 MDF, then trim it out. I thought this would give it a nice thick, heavy feel. Or would I be better off using birch ply for the substrate? I'm concerned about the expansion and contraction of the different woods. Of course, neither one will look great from the bottom, I don't know how to solve that.

Think about the finish too.
In high school, I once made a fine chessboard out of 1/4" light/dark plywood squares (I forget what woods, pretty though). I glued them to a 1/2" C/D construction plywood substrate, and framed the assembly with hardwood with a 1/8" lip.
THEN, I poured polyester resin to fill the lip. Mistake. When the resin dryed, the assembly cupped a full 3/8" from the center to the corners (very symmetrically though). I threw it out later, but my then room-mate retrieved it and for years played "wobbly chess". An additional rule was "If you knock down any piece, the opponent gets a piece back."
Ah, good times....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.