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Blue mountains at Katoomba

Oversized chess pieces

chess turners4The KMS ‘woodies’ (woodworkers) have embarked on a project to make a set of large chessmen.

We have a large chessboard in the garden area (photo below), but it is far too large for normal-size pieces. The squares on our outdoor board are 100 mm square, roughly double the size of a standard board, so we are making our pieces double the standard competition size.

chess board

The set is based broadly on a classical design, as described by Bruce Campbell in the Canadian Woodworker in 2008.

Turning chess pieces is a good learning project, because you get to practise the same set of cuts over a number of similar pieces. The aim is to get them as consistent as possible, although some small variations are usually OK.

The process of turning a chess piece is shown below. You start with a square blank, which is first made round and then shaped in a series of steps.

chess process


The piece is sanded before it is separated from the waste at the top and removed from the lathe. In this case, I have turned a queen, and the crown was completed off the lathe.

The most difficult piece will be the knight. The knight suggested in our chosen design was too complicated for us, so we adapted a design from my boyhood chess set. The horse’s head was cut out on a bandsaw, shaped with a sharp chisel, then attached to the turned base with a piece of dowel.

chess turners

Shedders (left to right) Keith Adamson, Bruce Ward and Greg Morris turning pieces.

chess fullwidth2

The completed chess pieces.


Shed member Graham gives the new pieces a test drive.

This project featured in the November 2017 newsletter.

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