Design Review: Chess Board Prototype

For my final project, I have decided to create a chess board, complete with a storage unit, and possibly a matching cribbage set to go with it.

I began by exploring some ideas, considering a nightstand charging station, or a pair of bamboo ski poles.  I discovered that I liked the wood aesthetic the best.  After more research, I found that the clash of contrasting colors, such as light and dark woods, looked the best.  This is what I wanted to pursue.

Because I value function, I also wanted an eye-pleasing product that would also work and that I could use for something.

The Aesthetic

I want the look to be all wood.  I have thought about introducing bamboo into the wood design as well, possibly create the look of modern/contemporary “columns”.  Often, bamboo isn’t combined with maple or walnut, so it could be a cool look if done correctly.  In a way, I am creating my own aesthetic, which is subject to change as I figured out what is feasible to build.

After a little more thought, I found this image of an example which I could incorporate into my aesthetic.  It is a contemporary Asian vibe, with bamboo that is colored a certain material.

I enjoy the look of bamboo added to this design, which is popular in contemporary Asian culture, as seen in the images below:



Here are a few images of my thoughts:

Michael’s Wood Craft


Youtube-I like this because there is a wood pattern in the middle, with a nice polished border on the edges.  I could do something like this for my item.

I like the color scheme on this.

Overall, I like the combination of woods, with a little flavor of Contemporary Asian.

Build Process:

To demonstrate the aesthetic and learn about the build process, I decided to make a mini checker pattern.  This allowed me to learn what types of wood worked best and looked nice. I started by going to the Makerspace to see what kind of scrap wood I could find.  I found some contrasting colors and began to glue them together, using vices to secure them together while the glue set.

I did not worry about the wood being different sizes, as I could cut it down later on.

After it was glued together, I let it set for approximately 24 hours.

I then removed the vices and was left with this product:

From here, I cut the wood the long way to get 3 equal size pieces that I could then use to create the checker pattern.

I reglued them together, and let it set for 24 hours again.

Following this step, I used a hand planar to level all the surfaces and ensure they were even and smooth.

Lessons Learned:

  • Experiment with the grain patterns and directions the grains face
  • Find wood that is the same thickness
  • Leave extra on the ends, you may need to cut it in the end, which isn’t a problem
  • When planing, ensure you have the correct tools
  • Glue the wood together on a flat surface
  • Use the same kind of wood, don’t use scrap wood that I find


Here is the link to my in class presentation:

To see the slides, click this link: click here

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Branden Goldenberg
    March 20, 2017 11:55 am

    Great idea! I think the dynamic aspect of the project becomes slightly difficult because of the static nature of the game, but the drawer was a nice addition to fulfill the requirement. I hope you end up making some pieces so you can actually play it, rather than just have a table decoration! I love the rustic style aesthetic.

  • Great prototype Ben, it really showed the aesthetic you are going for. I think if the sides and the drawer were lined with bamboo, it will turn out with a good look

  • This project will fit nicely with the trail maps you made for the Upcycle project. It has the same rustic, fancy log cabin feel to it. I love the feel of expertly furnished, smooth, stained wood. It’s a good aesthetic theme to stick to. I’m looking forward to seeing the final board and pieces. Good luck!

  • Oksana Schuppan
    March 17, 2017 12:22 pm

    Your woodwork is beautiful! I especially love that you are sticking with this material based on the success of your last project. I actually think the fact that the pieces are slightly uneven really contributes to the rustic feel of this design. I am excited to see the chess pieces you create. I would go as abstract and natural as possible. For example, consider using wood vs rocks as the two teams. Keep up the good work!

  • I like how you tied it in with your upcycle aesthetic. I know you mentioned you might buy pieces, but I think it would be really cool if you you made your own-they could really enhance the aesthetic if they were made of wood and were rough-hewn and looked rustic and earthy.

  • Connor Swanson
    March 15, 2017 5:01 pm

    Great project idea. I grew up playing a lot of chess with my dad and grandfather so I’m jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea. Your prototype turned out really well. You mentioned that you struggled to get all of the tiles flush but i think it gives it some character when there are some edges to it. I’m excited to see where you take that.

  • Your presentation was great. Very detailed with tons of pictures. Could you use bamboo for the wood in the board, at least for the surface? Also, you might want to build or find chess pieces that follow your contemporary Asian design.

  • Great presentation! The prototype really shows the aesthetic well. The wood knot idea is a nice touch. Good job!

  • Olivia Watkins
    March 14, 2017 5:56 pm

    I am doing a board game too! I love that you are also using wood I think it gives it a nice homemade feel. The reason I decided not to do a chess board is because of the pieces themselves. I am curious how you plan on making the complicated shapes. Will you carve them yourself and have them match a certain theme or aesthetic ?


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