Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 9

Tonight, except for gluing felt on the feet, I completed the chessboard. It was an enjoyable project.

After the 2nd coat of oil dried, the board was quite rough. This surprised me. I went over it lightly with some fine steel wool and all the roughness went away - it became silky. After a good dusting, I waxed it with Johnson & Johnson's paste wax. The same stuff - down to that yellow metal can - that my mom used to use when waxing our floors back in the 60s. I must say that I like the simplicity of using tung oil and wax.

Enough talk!

Here's the board with the set I bought, and a lovely quilt made by the wife in the background. The quilt's better than the chessboard!

And that's that!

My son and I played a few games on it tonight, he nicked me for a draw! The board and set go well together. The set is the Club Series chessmen from Cajun Chess.

Perhaps I'll have additional thoughts about the chessboard later. Now it is time for bed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 8

I finished the sanding today (in other words, I got really tired of sanding.) A random orbital sander is sounding good right about now. If I make any more, I'll probably get one. The Wife wants more quilt racks so I can probably get one. It's really for her, you see...

Here are some pictures. The tung oil added a bit of a tint...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 7

Well, this is really dragging on. If I would quit making mistakes I'd be done!

Anyway, I cut the miters pretty much by eye on the bandsaw and cleaned them up with a chisel. This is something a skilled craftsman can do with ease. Which is to say, I made a mess of it.

So I give you, ladies and gentlemen, BRUTALCAM (tm) ... Here are closeups of the patched/repaired miters. To see this yourself you'd have to push your eyeball up against the board - so it isn't quite as bad in person.

Obviously the one in the upper right is rough. When making the cut on the bandsaw, I cut on the wrong side of the line. Pretty serious when 1/64th of an inch in unacceptable! But as it was the 2nd miter cut on that piece, and as I cut it too short, there was nothing to be done except to deal with it and try to do better next time. The dark spot is actually glue, so this will probably look a little better (a little less bad?) after some finish sanding. I'm as pleased as punch with the other corners.

Here's the board again, this time with it's first sanding. Tomorrow I have specific rough areas to sand. Then it will time for the final sanding and the finish.

And once again, the board with the new pieces on it. Why? Because I can!

Stay tuned...

Abbey Road on the River

My son and some of his High School friends got a unique opportunity to play a gig at Louisville's Abbey Road on the River, the world's biggest Beatles festival. In the last few weeks they formed a band, selected a few songs, and worked up a set - while taking AP tests, finals, and graduating. It was nuts.

Here's a link to the band's page... It will likely change in the near future...

And here's a clip.

Needless to say, we're as proud as we can be of our son.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 6

Tonight's adventures...

I decided that the borders of the chessboard made the it look too bulky, almost as if it was single block of oak. To remedy this, I decided to cut scallops in the bottom of the border. I'd leave "feet" at the corners but cut an arc between them.

This represents one of my four border pieces. The pink rectangular area represents the groove that the board's lip fits into. The arc at the bottom is what I want to cut. In actuality, I selected a chord of a circle, not an ellipse as drawn, but my gimp fu is weak.

Here's a pic. It's sitting on the tablesaw which might made it hard to see.

Here's another pic. Hopefully the plywood will make it easier to see.

Ok, it's a tad subtle. Compare to pictures in previous postings to see the difference. The arc/scallop is a chord of a circle with a radius of 80" or so. I didn't have a circle jig that large sitting around so I had to improvise. I decided that I wanted the arc to go from 0" deep by the feet to 3/8" deep in the center. I did all the calculations in Excel to plot several points onto my template. Then I could connect them and have a reasonable approximation of the arc I wanted. The method sucked my soul (ok, measure 3" over and 5/64" up...) I needed a less tedious way.

I marked three points on my template - the top of the arc and the point by each foot where the arc will leave the wood. I got a thin strip of plywood scrap and bent it so it passed through all three points. I made sure the strip bent evenly. I then traced the curve made by the bent strip onto the template. After cutting to the line on the bandsaw, I had a template I could use for all four borders. Worked great.

More to come!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 5

I've cut the miters now. With the board being out of square somewhat and my lack of specialized tooling, I was forced to cut the miters on the bandsaw and clean them up with a chisel. Given that I have never done it, three of the four corners turned out well enough. The fourth, unfortunately, is a train wreck. I can disguise it at the cost of Yet More Time. Looking back, of course, it is very easy to say, if I spent half as much time being careful as fixing st00pid mistakes, I'd be done...

Oh well, I'm getting smarter by the minute... So enough with the whining, here we go.

Here's the board with the borders. All mitered. Now you can see the accent strip very well.

Here's the best corner.

And here's a closeup. The camera angle is being kind to me. There's a black line there though I expect it will fill in with sawdust. Hey, I'd prefer a perfect miter, but I'll take it where I can get it!

Finally, here's a motivational picture I took for myself. This is a set I received today. I bought it for this board. It's a decent boxwood and ebonized boxwood set with a 3 7/8" king.

Yeah, I cropped it to be a tease. ;-)

The next step is to repair the bad miter and glue the borders on. Then I'll re-evaluate the situation. Optionally, before the gluing, I may put a decorative arc in the borders so they don't look so heavy.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 4

More chessboard progress. I spent most of my time since the last post fixing mistakes. They do seem to compound on a project like this.

Here's the board after a sanding on its plywood sheet.

This picture shows that I can't take pictures. Anyway, this shows the profile of the border. The groove will fit over the lip made by the plywood giving a lot of gluing area. The groove was made from multiple passes on the tablesaw. It's rough but it will be hidden. The accent strip has been attached but is still untrimmed. In the spirit of being a cheeseball, I've since run the borders through the planer to make the accent strip flush on both edges. :-D

I'll tell on myself a little here. Due to some error propagation, the playing area needed to be trimmed - the squares weren't perfectly aligned. But I did it poorly causing the border to fit badly at best. There was a 1/16" gap between the accent strip and the board. It doesn't sound like much but it looked like a chasm. Completely unacceptable. I filled the gap in with some scrap and planed the edge reasonably straight. As you can see, the worst of the damage is fixed. I still have some finagling to do but it will be minor.

This close-up shows how it all comes together. Obviously I still have to miter the border. The accent strip is Brazilian Cherry. Which isn't related to cherry at all. Hopefully it will stay this color! There are some gaps between the accent and the board that will disappear with sanding and finagling.

And finally, here's sort of what it will look like. Pretend the corners are mitered. The ends of the borders are a little rough. Not to worry, I'll be cutting an inch or so off when they are mitered.

I'm not too sure about the oak border. Maybe I'll use cherry on the next one.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Making a chessboard pt 3

Now I need to cut the board across the strips. The problem is, I don't have a good edge to push against the tablesaw fence. The solution is the panel jig. In the simplest case this is nothing more than a straight piece of wood that serves as a fence attached to a sheet of plywood. Now, the panel jig's fence is perpendicular to the board's direction of travel through the table saw. The board has 2 good edges for that. Here's the panel jig. As you see, there's isn't much to it.

(note - I built mine upside down and reversed. That is, most of these jigs have the fence on the side closest to the operator. And usually the jig is on the left of the blade, not the right. I don't know why I made it this way now. But it has advantages and disadvantages... )

The next two pictures show the before and after of me cleaning the edge of the first square. Note the board's good edge is against the fence. That's how I know this edge will be perpendicular.


and after...

As soon as the edge is clean, I immediately write the numbers 1 through 8 on the board, on the first maple strip, such that when the new strips are cut each has a number. This will allow me to reassemble the board in the same order. It keeps the grain matching and looking good.

Now a challenging task is ahead - I need to make 8 strips - but but how wide? The problem is that the squares aren't exactly 2 1/4" like I had planned. They are about 2 3/16". I measured across the board and found it was 17 7/16" wide. I divided by 8 to get the average width of a square. This was something bizarre, of course, something like 2 23/128ths. I could approximate it to 32nds of course... Instead, I converted the fraction to decimal... 17.96.. and set my dial caliper. Now that I know how wide these strips should be, how am I going to do it? I should be able to cut these on the table saw now that I made a good edge. But that will leave a thin piece of wood stuck between the fence and the blade. In addition to being dangerous, I don't have any wood to spare if it gets chewed up.

I decide to use the panel jig instead of the tablesaw fence. I use my calipers to measure from the leftmost edge of one of the saw blade's left-set teeth to position a wooden stop:

Note the bar clamp - the stop must absolutely not move. Now I push a clean edge against the panel jig's fence, and push a clean edge against the stop. The sets the width of the strip to be cut as accurately as I know how.

There's now nothing left to do but push wood through the saw. I make sure the chessboard doesn't slip by pushing the board against the jig's fence, but I push the jig through the saw. Better jigs have a toggle clamp that pins the work to the jig. If I used mine more often I'd add one.

So I make a few cuts, measuring each one with the calipers to make sure nothing has slipped. Here I've cut 2 with the next ready. You can just see masking tape on the trailing maple edge - I has some trouble with this splitting out as the blade passed through. The tape adds enough support to prevent this.

Ok, all 8 strips are cut and laid out in order on the panel jig.

Now what? How do you get a chessboard out of that? Simple! Rotate every other strip end-for-end!

Suddenly the game board appears!

The next steps will include a light sanding of the new edges to remove any wood splinters or burrs that could prevent a good glue-up. Then back in the clamps it goes for gluing! After the cleanup I'll glue the whole board down to a sheet of plywood to strengthen it.

I'll add a border to it to protect the outside squares and hide the plywood substrate. I consider the miters at the border's corners to be the most difficult part of the project.

Then the real finish sanding will happen. This will level the board and the border and hopefully be silky smooth. Finally, I'll apply a finish. Oil gives luster and depth, polyurethane makes it tough as nails. Maybe I'll do both. I have not decided.

More to come...

Making a chessboard pt 2

So I got my pipe clamps and, did some test fits, then glued the board together. Here's the beauty shot:

That's actually of a dry-run. When doing involved glue-ups it is important to be sure that there won't be any problems. You don't want to be surprised while the glue is drying! In this case, notice the small bits of wood between the clamps and the board. I discovered that the boards were thin enough to slip beneath some of the clamp faces. That would have been annoying had the glue been applied already.

Also important is that the boards are in the same exact order and orientation as described in the previous posting. That's why I lettered them all.

I was rewarded immediately during the real glue-up when I tightened a clamp too much and the boards flew out. I ended up getting glue where I didn't want glue which made for additional cleanup. Anyway, I was able to start over with no chance of getting the board (with their custom-matched edges) back in the wrong sequence.

The next picture fills my breast with pride and the smell of olde-world craftsmanship.

Basically, I thought the board had a bit of a bow in it, and it displeased me. I found the heaviest thing in the shop that was nearby. That vise weighs perhaps 40#, more then enough to push the board down against the pipe clamps. A good part of woodworking is dealing with the real world - such as boards that don't behave.

If you enlarge the image you can see the glue squeezing out from between the boards. That's ok. Let it dry. Don't try to wipe it off or you'll smear it into the wood. This is very important if you intend to stain the wood (which I don't) because the glue residue will inhibit the stain leaving an unsightly blemish you can't do much about. After an hour or two, the glue will be set up but not yet hard. It will peel off very easily. I had to go to work, so by the time I got back in the shop the glue was rock hard.

Here's the board after the glue-up. Now, all that dried 'squeeze-out'... To remove it, I carefully ran my narrow chisel, bevel up, down the length of the glue lines. Some of the boards weren't perfectly aligned in height leaving places where glue could hide. Unsightly! While I could have sanded it off, that makes no sense to me. So I held the chisel nearly vertically with the bevel away from me, and I pulled it down the glue lines. This popped off some globs of glue and, as it cut the wood and made gossamer shavings, it leveled the uneven glue lines. Basically, I used the chisel like a light-duty cabinet scraper. I could feel the chisel being deflected as it hit patches of glue. When I could pull the chisel without it wandering, I knew I was done. Now when I run my hand over the board, I feel minute undulations, but I don't feel any catches where the boards are glued together.

The next stop is for me to make a straight cut across all 8 boards. This will be the reference edge from which I'll make the next 8 strips. Note these will be cut 'the other way', making strips of alternating squares. This is the only operation that stresses me - I must push the board straight through the saw or I'll snipe an edge and it won't glue well. It sounds easy, and it is - until the board is almost cut through. You have to push the work through the saw, past the blade. You also have to push the work against the fence as you do this. But there's only 2" of space between the fence and the blade. You gonna put your hand in there, stumpy? I can think of two different ways to do this safely. A dry-run (unpowered!!) of each is called for.

More to come!

Making a chessboard

While procrastinating on finishing the lathe, I decided to make a chessboard. I've started playing again recently so it's been on my mind.

I have a nice set I bought many years ago. Based on its size I decided that 2.25" squares would be appropriate. I selected some maple and walnut from my racks. I resawed four slices of each type of wood each about 5/16" thick. Then I ran them through the thickness planer until the best side was very smooth and the other side was reasonably smooth. Then I cut each strip to width on the table saw.

Here's the result:

You can see that not all the pieces are the same length. That's ok, I'll be cutting across those strips soon to make 8 new strips of alternating color. The uneven ends (including that label, lolz) are destined for the scrap pile.

What you can't see is that each board is lettered on the scrap end. This allows me to know which face is up and the orientation of the end of the board.

I'm going to glue the 8 pieces together next. The table saw is pretty accurate, I could probably glue them as-is. However using a hand plane I can use and old old trick to make the edges virtually perfect, giving a superior gluing edge.

The trick is that if you get two boards and clamp them in the vise, both are oriented with their faces outward, when you hand-plane their edges your planing errors will cancel out. When the boards are laid flat again, they will fit together wonderfully. The reason is that the hand plane my be cocked to, say, 88 degrees as you plane. Planing each edge individually could cause the mating edges to be 4 degrees out of square. That's unacceptable. But when they are planed together (with both faces out - critical!), 88 degrees on one board becomes 92 on the other. Add 88 to 92 and you get 180 degrees - perfectly flat. In the picture, you can see the two boards in the vise. I've clamped them in with their edges at the same height. That hand plane is a Stanley (Bailey) #8c jointing plane. It was made in about 1922. I really enjoy using it.

Here's the mess after I jointed all the edges. You can see maple and walnut intertwined in the shavings between the plane and the vise . Those are what you want - it means the plane was cutting both pieces at the same time, and thus they will meet at 180 degrees.

More to come, this post is full ;-)