Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So, You Want a Challenge?

Head Scratcher?
     You know I've been an ultra trail runner most of my life so relish challenges that pit me against the elements.  Well, I may have just taken on a big challenge that will pit me against the wooden elements and sanity!  I had a request on the Etsy store shortly before Christmas asking if I could make a box to hold chess pieces.  Initially, this was to be for Christmas but I didn't think I could accomplish it by then so we put it off for a birthday present at the end of February.  Although I'm not a chess player I've seen the game but didn't expect the pieces to be this large.  It took a bit of doing to come up with the lay-out you see there.  The largest piece is the King and it measures 2 3/16" x 9", the smallest ones are the pawn which measure 1 1/2" x 3 1/2".  My concept is to have the box open completely flat so that each side is a mirror image of the other segregated by the color of the pieces.  The dividers will slip together like an egg crate.  Here's how I got to this point today.
     The first step was to mill a bunch of Walnut 1/4" thick by 2 3/16" wide to make these dividers.  I'm thinking the key here is to keep all of the mating parts exactly the same size.  It's going to be interesting when final assembly comes along and I need to slip everything together but I'll worry about that when I get there.  I set up an auxiliary fence on the chop saw to cut these parts.  I needed 4 short sides of about 10" each and 12 of the longer pieces at 17+".

Cutting Required Pieces to Length
     My intention was to use my 6" dado set to cut the required slots but it wouldn't quite make the required depth of cut which was 1 3/32" -- it was about an eighth of an inch shy!  I used the box cutter set but had to add a few thin shims to get the required width.  Set up was crucial, these parts need to lap each other exactly.

Sneaking up on the Center
     One way to do this is by setting the blade slightly below the required height and then flipping a scrap piece over after each pass.  By raising the blade ever so slightly each time you complete a pass you'll slowly whittle away the piece you see in the center.  Once it's gone you're pretty much set, the proof can be seen here.

Stop Block Set and Depth Exact
     When the two trial pieces fit together without a gap in the middle or on the top/bottom you're right on the money.  The ends of all the pieces were cut and here's what I had at that point, this was relatively easy.

Gang Cutting, Four at a Time
     This proved to be the easier part of the dividers.  It was just a matter of cutting the ends of each long piece and the shorter pieces were carefully measured and marked with a marking knife.  By using a stop block clamped to the fence, all four pieces were cut at the same time so I ended up with what you see here:

Basic Dividers Complete

     Now things get a bit complex and required lots of talking to myself to keep it straight.  It was going to take more than talking so I got a piece of wrapping paper and drew it out full size.  Another thing I did was to number one end of each long piece so I don't have to waste any time when I get to the assembly stage.

Ready for the Short Dividers
     I'm saving that for first thing in the morning when I'm fresh.  Board number 4 will require some care as it has two slots closer together than I'd like but that's how the lay-out fell.  Once the divider is installed that will keep it strong.  In the center of the number 4, 5, & 6 boards there will be a solid block since the 4 pawns in each of those rows only need 14" of total space.  This will be where a swivel catch will be installed to secure all of the pieces in their slots when the box is close and/or carried.
     So far, things are going along as planed.  I've had quite a lot of down time fighting the flu so this project has already been built inside of my feverish mind!  Hopefully, when I get back down to a normal 98.6 it'll still look good.  It's kind of difficult to read the names of the pieces slated for each slot but if you scroll back up to the first picture it's easier to read.

1 comment:

  1. That's such an amazing process! So glad to see it coming together :) It's very cool to have these blog posts! You are quite the artist.