Chess Board With Secret Storage

The plans

Sketchup 3d Model – Here

Demonstration Video – Part 1

Demonstration Video – Part 2

The board

if you’re interested in making a chess board, you’re in the right place.

I used ironbark and cypress for the two contrasting colours

First cut it into strips the same width as the chess board squares.

and here’s a lookup table if you want to calculate your own.

My square size has been made 1.5 inch
I don’t have plans for the actual board because your square sizes will probably be different.
Apart from measuring the square sizes, the dimensions of the other parts are relative.
Meaning that you measure and cut the inlay and frame to fit as I did in the video

Most chess boards have a lighter colored strip for the thin inlay and darker wood for the frame. But I had what had and it still looks pretty good.

Believe me – if you have enough wood and you think you might like two boards make two at once, it is heaps quicker.

Cut the length of the strips using this formula

8 x the width of the strips
7 x the width of the saw blade.
A little bit more ~ ¼ inch that you trim off.

I show you how to glue it together – pretty simple

Then you cut it across the grain to make new strips (exactly the same width)
I made a fancy gig, but a table saw is what most people use for this step.

Flip every second strip so you get a checker board pattern and glue it again.

As I point out in the video, the game is always played with the white square in the bottom right, so keep that in mind if you want the grain pattern horizontal or vertical on the board in relation to the player.

Now if you were careful with the glue up, the edges will be flush, but it is likely that the edge will not be perfect. I touched mine up with a sharp hand plane. You need this perfectly flat to glue on the inlay strip.

If you have access to a drum sander machine then you know what to do, I don’t and found a sharp hand plane more than adequate to flatten the top.  

Now add the inlay. You could skip this step but the board just does not look right without it.

At this point the board looks square but I can tell you it will be slightly out.
You have to custom cut each length of the inlay strip to fit seamlessly.

i.e you can’t just cut 4 strips the same length and expect the mitre joints to fit.

If you are not comfortable with cutting little mitres, use the butt joint method instead. It is not as visually pleasing but you can get away with it.

Repeat this process custom fitting the main frame.

I cut this frame about 45mm square and that leaves a decent space under the board which I later turn into storage for the pieces.

 I used splines in the video to strengthen the frame and then put a chamfer around the edge

I had some 4mm thick plyboard and installed it into a rebate/rabbet as a flush fitting base.  

Apart from applying some finish, that is it for the chess board.
!!! Finished !!!

The underneath storage and latch mechanism

Now we make and install the secret latch mechanism and underneath storage

I obviously did heaps of research and was looking for a simple latch to use in my project but could not find exactly what I wanted.

At this point I decided I could make it with brass and found some suitable materials on line.
1 inch by ¼ inch brass bar and 1mm thick brass plate.
I fully designed it myself in the 3d modelling program Sketchup which free to download and use.

Click here for the model if you want to have a play or modify it. The plans above are screen prints from this model.

If I did it again I would again pick a piece of wood with a knots and position it in the centre like I did here.
Or you could use your imagination and fashion some sort of push button.

Cut out the latch parts and clean them up.

I believe you can use normal low melting point soft solder commonly used for electronics 60% lead 40%tin

I used silver solder which is normally 65% silver. 20% copper. 15% zinc.
and costs over a $100 bucks for 4 rods.

I used some cheap rods with only 5% silver And Bossweld Silver Brazing Flux .

I don’t know any better, but it worked pretty good in the end.

I made a point in the video about using wax on the screw threads but what I didn’t mention was that brass screws are fragile. They snap and need that little bit of lubrication.

If you have a steel screw the same size, use that to cut the thread in the hole first or be careful not to put to much pressure on it when driving in.

I next show you how to make a pin for the spring. This is so that when the spring is compressed it does not deform in shape. Just makes it work better.

The spring came from my local hardware and interestingly even though we are fully metric here in Australia for decades, you can still buy parts with imperial measurements.
The spring is 3/16 wide which makes it perfect to push my 1/4 inch wide brass latch with out catching the sides of the slot.

Position the hook part of the latch dead center and mark the position for future reference.

Clamp the sliding latch in the open position so you can measure and make the stop block.

I then show you in the video how to work out the depth of a cutout in this block for the spring

Keep in mind the latch heeds 6mm travel to open and close and enough pressure from the spring to keep it closed.

The other half of the latch is the push bar slider.
It needs to be the same thickness as the brass latch so it does not bind and also has to be cut to a specific length. (to stop the slider in the closed position)

Move the latch slider into the closed position and this is length you need to cut the push bar

Cut a recess for the top plate, it looks so much better if it fits flush.

Now the catch needs to be attached to the base.
This is pretty much impossible without the double sided tape trick I showed you in the video.

Then glue it on with epoxy.

The next part I get creative with turning that old drill bit into something cool by soldering on an old key and then make a custom recessed key holder. Having some magnets on hand for projects like this is really handy and you really cant make a holder like this without them.

The next step I skimmed over the first bit of making boxes for the chest pieces
You cant see it with the eye but both boxes are different sizes and not perfectly square and need to be custom fit to the under board receptacle .

This is because the knot which I used to hide my hole was not exactly centre after all and I had to positioned the latch mechanism over it.

It took a little fiddling and then I shimmed the box in place so there was an even surround all the way around the boxes. It worked out great for me but you definitely can leave a bigger gap to be safer.

Once again you need the double sided tape trick to transfer the position of these boxes onto the base and then glue it permanently in place and I show you my technique in the video.

The boxes can then be used in place as a fixed framework to install the dividers for the chess pieces.

Finish with shellac or use your finish of choice.

I spent a lot of time documenting this so hope it was inspiring for you at least.
If you have any questions please post on the video comments section and if you feel inclined to give me a hi5 then press my YouTube subscribe button.

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