I promised my brother, (who loves wood as much as I do - our father was a carpenter), that I would blog our new chess board. Chess is presently quite popular in my house, but having broken the glass set after it was used as a prop in filming, the children were using an ancient set of plastic and cardboard (gasp). Anna Ruth had a birthday coming up, so I suggested a nice chess set would be a most welcome gift. Behold her cake (the handy galloping white knights have been dubbed 'Mr. Pye' in our house):
I was inspired by this post about a DIY chess table, as it used stained squares rather than piecing the wood. I even found a little table and chair set on craigslist, but alas when Michael went to get the set he realized the top was formica and thus not suitable. Running out of time to find a table, the guys set out to make a wooden board.
Michael purchased an inexpensive 1 x 4' pine stair tread from the hardware store, cut it precisely in half, and carefully glued the two pieces together with wood glue to make a 2' square. Jonathan used a metal carpenter's square to draw the squares and then burn them with his wood burning tool. Michael applied the stain to the squares - Minwax golden oak and mahogany- using a small paint brush. This was tricky business, but the burned lines help keep the stain from running into the adjacent squares as it tends to seep along the grain lines. Michael recommends using a small brush with little stain (not dripping wet), starting at the center of each square, and practicing on a scrap piece first.
After Michael completed the nerve wracking squares, Jonathan went to town with the wood burner doing the decorating. He chose Beowulf as the theme.
He took his inspiration from the illustrations in Ian Serraillier's version of Beowulf. We have Grendel with his captive, Beowulf's horn, the swan boat, the stolen cup, the whale, pine trees, the harp (he hated the sound of the harp), the huge hall (with gleaming roof) of Hrothgar King of the Danes, the lake monster, the proud-antlered deer(not drinking from the lake), a vague head of noble Aeschere, the dragon and his cave, the watchman and his hut, and the tower (where Beowulf's father sits).
After he finished all of the illustrations with the wood burner, he added the stain to the outer edges of the board using the same two colors, dark for the land and sea and the light for the 'sky'. Michael then topped it all off with several coats of wipe on poly.
We also followed the cue from the DIY post and ordered the pieces from wholesalechess.com. We were delighted when they arrived to find they matched the board fairly well, and we got the perfect size - 3 3/4" kings for our 2 1/4" squares.
We think it came out awesome. And needless to say our enjoyment of the game is greatly enhanced by this most unique piece of craftsmanship.
Here they enjoyed feasts and high fellowship, Story and song and the pride of armed peace. But away in the treacherous fens, beyond the moor, a hideous monster lurked, fiend from hell...