Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Chesty LaRue

When I was younger my dad had a home made chess set.

I loved it. The thought that he sat there and carved it himself, by hand, fascinated me.

I can still remember the first time I ever beat him at chess. An important moment.

I've always loved the idea of making my own chess set, a wooden set. My own carving, my own style. Unique. Mine.

Having done an extensive (5 evenings) Introduction to Woodwork course I was really starting to enjoy working with wood. With a friend's birthday looming the idea had rooted firmly in my mind.

However, a second, maybe two seconds thought and I realised it was well and beyond my ability. Any other ideas? Well, I found something different.

Nuts and bolts. Having enjoyed fiddling with my bike I had a few bits and pieces lying around, fittings and fastenings. Metalwork. I couldn't resist having a go. Most of the ideas for this piece were gently pilfered from someone else who'd done this first or maybe even had the original idea (or perhaps gently pilfered it from someone else), but all the hard work was mine.

Sourcing the parts was one of the hardest things. My local metal work place were fairly helpful but the fact that they keep all their loose nuts and bolts behind the counter made things a little tricky. It went something like this:

"er can I have a nut that looks a bit like the top of a castle. Your castlelated....?"
"hmm yes we have some Zinc plated ones, what size?"
"I dunno... this big (holds up hands, looks imploring)"
"So an M10 will do will it?"

"er......... Yes.."

After about the sixth time I'd gone back I think the guys there were getting slightely bemused. Goodness knows what they thought I was building. Anyway, a lot of the stuff they didn't have, at least not in the quantity I wanted. 32 Flanged nuts for example.
At this point electronic bay dot com came to the rescue supplying all my nutty needs. I don't hugely enjoy shopping on ebay. But I can't deny it got me what I needed.

After a million years of mucking around looking for the right length bits I discovered something amazing:  threaded rods. Genius. That did leave me with half a days sawing through rods with a borrowed saw. That was hard work. (lukily I have guns of steel).

Left to right: Knight (Jumper in France), Rook (Castle), Bishop, King, Pawn, Queen.

Spraying the pieces was tricky. Every single time I stepped out the back door of my house for some spray time it started raining. Sometimes it kindly waited until I'd just sprayed them before it started.
I did all the pieces seperately then put them together and re-sprayed them. Mostly they got stuck to the newspaper, got wet or fell over every time I tried to spray them. Eventually I got them done. After spraying I used some metal sealant to try and stop them chipping (it doesn't really work).
Next was what I thought would be the hardest bit (but was actually quite enjoyable) ie the board. I got a nice square bit of Aluminium cut for me by my friendly neighbourhood metal shop man. It was a bit stained and a few scratches but otherwise good. I sat it in front of me and stared at it, desperately willing it to become a neatly marked chess board. I didn't oblige.
Remembering the lovely little sander I had been bought my previous birthday I sat myself down with the instructions and tried to work out if it would work on Aluminium, having never tried it before. In the end I just gave it a go. And the out come. Success!

Then an hour on the sofa in front of a DVD of the awesome 'Look Around You' with my stanley knife, a metal ruler and only a few mistakes later I had my squares marked out (pretty) evenly.

Finally it was time to colour the different colour squares. I had no idea how to do this. I was sure paint would chip, even enamel. I thought about wire wool and a few people suggested acids like rust eaters... basically I couldn't decide. I experiemtned with the detail attachment on my sander, but in the end I just grabbed some course sand paper, put on a movie and did it by hand (using a lovely
T-halving joint I made in wood class as a guide)

After a while I scrapped the guide and just went free hand, it was a lot easier and I think it worked out well..

And.... Done.

 Anyone fancy a game?  Knight to C3.

No comments:

Post a Comment