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How to Carve Chess Pieces: (A Step by Step Procedure)

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Published on Mar 10, 2023
Carving chess pieces without a lathe requires patience and determination. You’ll want all the pieces to look like their corresponding set. Subsequently, you’ll want to be consistent. Whether you are an expert at wood carving or getting started, this article offers a detailed guide on how to carve chess pieces. While we’ll focus mostly on the ideas you need for whittling entire wooden chess sets, you’ll also find tips for power carvers. Before everything else, here’s what you should know before carving wooden chess pieces. Tools Needed Knife Pull saw Sealant Best Wood For Carving Chess Pieces When whittling wooden chess pieces, ensure that you use the best wood for carving . Besides allowing for a seamless carving project, quality woods guarantee aesthetic and long-lasting chess pieces. Here are some recommended material suitable for wooden chess pieces; 1. Boxwood Besides suiting wooden chess pieces, this light-coloured wood is perfect for making squares on chess boards. However, I shy from using them to make the entire chess set. This robust wood is dense and ages nicely. Since they come in varying grades, wooden chess sets made from boxwood vary in price and quality. If you’re looking for good wood options for your black pieces, but are running low on budget, consider working with Ebonized Boxwood. This is a stained variety of the Boxwood Tree that provides a cheaper alternative to real Ebony. With ebonized boxwood, you can achieve a convincing ebony effect for a more attractive deep black chess piece. 2. Walnut This wood comes in rich red, yellow, and purple tones. I use it to make the squares and borders on chess boards. While they’re renowned in the furniture and construction niche, you can also use them for your chess pieces. Walnut features a tight grain with attractive figure disparity for any chess piece. Although they come in such a vast selection, the American Walnut is the most popular option. It’s robust and features a medium density, making it a suitable choice for a chess piece. 3. Wenge This is a very dark wood that closely resembles natural Ebony. However, in certain lighting conditions, it gives off an almost purple hue. Therefore, Wenge, which I use for black chess pieces construction exclusively, is more sustainable and cost-effective. Moreover, it shows an intriguingly tight grain with a geometric appearance. Unfortunately, many enthusiasts mistake the natural wood for a printed or manufactured effect. This leaves you with an aesthetic chess piece. In the wood triangle, Wenge closely resembles the dark Indian Rosewood. This makes the wood perfect for making wooden chess sets that accompany Rosewood, Ebony, and Sandalwood wood options. 4. Ebony Regarded by many as the black wood, Ebony ranks as a luxury wood. Natural Ebony gives off an almost dark brown hue, with noticeable light streaks in the grain. However, it is through a chemical process that it turns completely black. Since it’s attractive even in its natural form, you’ll easily come across chess boards made from semi-treated Ebony. Semi-treated Ebony retains the effect. However, since this is not your typical wood, the fine hardwood is only used in high-end chess pieces. You’ll also find the materials in luxury violins and guitars. 5. Rosewood Here is yet another luxury wood. Rosewood is a dark wood that gives off a slightly red tinge. You’ll mostly find this wood in medium and high-end chess pieces. Besides being one of the perfect materials for chess boards and folding sets, it offers an excellent effect on most guitar fingerboards. Bud Rosewood, sourced from the Rosewood tree’s base, features a higher quality than normal Rosewood. As a result, you can expect to see Bud rosewood on glamorous chess pieces. 6. Red Cedar While it resembles Rosewood in several ways, Red cedar gives off a stronger red tint and shows much grain. Moreover, I consider it more durable than Rosewood. While it is common to use them interchangeably, the confusion lingers due to the adulteration of the term Rosewood. Unlike with Rosewood, seldom will you find Red cedar on chess boards and cabinets. Nevertheless, they’re only suitable for making a first-class chess piece. 7. Red Sandalwood Besides being a versatile wood, red sandalwood is valuable. Traditionally, it worked as herbal medicine, and powdering it turns it into a dye. It’s also used to make attractive and stunning chess pieces. It has a lovely rich red color and a dense grain. You’ll only find it on expensi...


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