[ the why and the how ]
As I wrote last week in this post, I have been working on something over the last couple of months.
And it is finally ready!
Ladies and Gentlemen: My handmade and hand-painted Chess Board.
Ryan’s dad has cool power tools and we decided to play with them a bit. One of the coolest things he has is a router table. A router is a machine that “hollows out an area from plastic or wood” (usually; taken from the wiki). Ryan came up with the idea of making game boards using the machine. He first did a board for Hneftafl (one day he might write about it). Then he convinced me to make something too.
I’m not a huge chess player, but a chess board seemed the best choice. I also thought I could do something a bit different with it. In this case it was the colours. Not the usual white and black (beige/brown, etc.).
First, Ryan and I sat down and did some basic math (mostly Ryan did…). We had to establish how big the board should be and what would be the size of the individual squares.
With the use of the router, I cut a piece of wood for the board. I could have used the saw (which can be attached to the workstation), but in this case the router did the job just as well. It was just a matter of flipping the board to hollow out the wood on both sides, which cut the wood.
When I had the piece ready, I created the grooves with the router. There was still a bit of math involved, which Ryan helped out a lot. Router bits come in different shapes, various sizes, etc. and we had to account for that, when we were measuring the distances between the squares. Making every groove was quite stressful. If we stuffed up here we would have to start everything again. Luckily, I did alright. With a different bit attached, I used the router to create the edges of the board as well.
Next, I sanded off any rough spots on the board.
Now the painting part.
After many tries (on a scrap of wood), I decided I was going to do metallic gold grooves and sides, with chiffon pink and navy blue squares.
I spray painted the whole board, first with black then with gold. The next step was to use an orbital sander to remove the paint from the top of the squares, so the gold paint just stayed in the grooves.
When I had the board ready, it was time to paint the first set of squares. I used masking tape to cover the rest of the squares in case of a slip.
Chiffon pink is an acrylic paint from the FolkArt range and I must say, I love it. It was blending really nicely and I had plenty of time to cover the square before the paint started drying.
I got into doing the second lot after a couple of weeks. I stumbled upon a problem though. The navy blue paint I had was different brand and it wasn’t as great as the FolkArt one. It was still acrylic, but of the regular type that dries really fast. It was very difficult to blend the paint on each square. I decided to find something more suitable. I tried to find FolkArt paints in the stores around, no luck. Online I could only find places that sold these paints in multiple lots - I couldn’t just get one. It took me a couple of months of passive research (in my spare time) to find a suitable paint. One day, after trying many different brands and shades I decided to have a look at the gouache paints I had in the garage. I picked Prussian Blue and White and mixed them together. I was amazed. It was perfect! I had what I needed. It was blending much better too. The only problem here was to get the right shade of blue with every mixing. I think I managed that pretty well, though.
Eventually, I could finish my project. When the squares were ready, I did a touch up on the gold (with acrylic paint) and finally sprayed the board with clear, satin, acrylic finish.
The board is not perfect. I still need to practice my routing and painting skills. I’m very happy and proud of the results, though. Now I have to think about the pieces for it!