Author Topic: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)  (Read 8796 times)

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Offline neilc

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Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« on: November 19, 2014, 10:45 PM »
In April of 2013 I went to the Marc Adams School of Woodworking to attend a week-long Jointmaker Pro (JMP) lass taught by John Economaki of Bridge City Tool Works.  We set about to make a chess set.  Little did I know what I was getting into!

No ordinary chess set, this was a a derivative of a design that John had done and is now on tour, first in Portland, then to Seattle and coming to Boston in 2015 as a part of his 'Quality is Contagious Tour' being done by sponsoring museums. 

I was fortunate to learn from the master and the class was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, after three days I had to leave to deal with a flooding problem in my basement (another story.)

The set was put aside for awhile and resurrected this past summer to work to finish it up.  19 months later, I finished the set this week.

The set is made to .005 tolerances... yes 5/1000 of an inch in wood - on the board and grid.  All the board grid is thickness planed with hand planes that have depth skids, which is an amazing way to get accuracy, and then cut and fitted on the JMP to the various angles of the lattice work.  The small grids and the large grid are press-fit tight with these tolerances.  There are small drops of glue at the intersections of the cross lap on the large grid, but no glue on the small grids except for gluing them in place to the supporting strips below.

I had a trashcan full of plane shavings by the time I was done.  And sore hands from all the planing.  Hours of planing to thickness over 600 pieces in the grid itself.

The chess pieces are cut on the JMP with various jigs and then many of the angles are sanded on a disc sander and finally planed to final finish.  The only finish on the pieces and board is paste wax lightly buffed.  To plane pieces this small, the small block plane is clamped in the vise and the pieces are pulled across it, watching fingers as you go!

In total, I have somewhere around 250 hours into the set.  And it's nearly 700 pieces of walnut and maple between the board, the lattice inserts and the pieces.

Attached are a few photos of work in process and the finished set.

Bishops:


Knights and Bishops:


Pawns & Rooks:


Knights:


King & Queen:


Queens:


Full Set:


Edge Planing Strips for Thickness:


Edge Planing Strips for Thickness 2:


Planing Strips for Width:


Shavings and Shavings:


A few strips planed:


Strips cut to length on the JMP


Half laps cut on the JMP using the Kerfmaker for accuracy and spacers to keep them consistent


Small grids press fit together:


Grids laying out to explore patterns:


Gluing the supports in place:


Full set completed:


Full Set:


Another View:


All pieces at attention:


If you want to take precision to another level, check out the Jointmaker Pro and John's hand planes with depth skids.  Oh, and a digital caliper.

As for Festools used, the original rough strips were ripped from walnut and maple with parallel guides and a TS55 saw. 

They were laid out on the bench and thickness sanded with a Rotex to clean up saw marks and then a Performax drum sander before going to the hand planes to finalize the thickness within .005 inch on each strip of wood.

All in all, a fun and challenging project -  now I need to bring my came up to the level of precision in the board!

neil
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 11:17 PM by neilc »

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Offline Wooden Skye

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 11:02 PM »
Wow!! That is a fantastic project! [jawdrop]
Bryan

TS 55, (2) 1400 Guide Rails, 1900 Guide Rail, MFT/3, Domino DF 500, 2 domino systainers, ETS 150/3, RO 90, CT 26, (2) OF1400, RO 150. RTS 400, LR 32 set, PS300 jigsaw, 3 abrasive systainers, (2) sys toolbox, (2) sys mini, clamps and other accesories

Offline Festool USA

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 11:20 PM »
Cool interpretation of the board.  [thumbs up]

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 05:52 AM »
What a project!  The precision you were able to achieve is amazing. 

Neil,  Shane posted about getting a chess set for his son.   Hmmm.

[popcorn]

Peter

Offline downtheroad

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 06:15 AM »
The JMP has been on my want list ever since it was first posted and talked about here on the FOG. A great project and beautiful work!
Tony

Offline Billedis

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 08:13 AM »
Amazingly beautiful.  Bill

Offline Sparktrician

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2014, 08:25 AM »
I am in awe of your skills!  Well done!!! 

 [smile]

- Willy -

 "Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up." - Brigham Young

Offline Ash Dash

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2014, 09:00 AM »
Very Very nice, I love the design.

Offline BMH

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2014, 09:11 AM »
Very nice and amazing work

Offline Alex

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2014, 10:29 AM »
Very impressive. Especially how you did the black and white fields.

Offline neilc

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2014, 05:23 PM »
Thanks for the nice comments and compliments.


Peter - if Shane wants a chess set for his son, all I can do is share a few photos with him!  I can direct him on how to place an order with Bridge City and even trade JMP classes for Festool classes!


My next JMP project might be a wooden mosaic that is in process.  8000 maple cubes 1/10 of an inch on a side that have been painted and then photo matched to an image.  All with tweezers.


This was John's class this past summer.  He really likes to torture his students!  A bit monotonous, but very cool and unique.  I'm about 20% through it and it's MANY more hours than this chess set. 


Perhaps, I should go back to making furniture!  Faster time to completion for sure!


Thanks for looking!


neil

Offline JoDo

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2014, 10:39 AM »
Checkmate.

Offline teocaf

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2014, 11:07 AM »
neil,
looking at the bctw forums and blog, etc, i get the impression that you're one of the few that are actually using these unique and fine hand tools to build things.  i'm curious to know if that is the case from your interactions?  did the exhibition showcase a lot of other original designs by others?

Offline Sean Ackerman

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2014, 12:32 PM »
Excellent Excellent Excellent.  I echo Shane's words, very very cool board, amongst EVERYTHING else.

Ho.Lee.Crap is right.  Beautiful stuff.  Thanks for the wealth of photos and for sharing.
Buy Festool Online" class="bbc_img

Offline VW MICK

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2014, 02:50 PM »
That is awesome

 [not worthy] [not worthy]

Truly An inspiration

Offline neilc

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2014, 08:58 PM »
neil,
looking at the bctw forums and blog, etc, i get the impression that you're one of the few that are actually using these unique and fine hand tools to build things.  i'm curious to know if that is the case from your interactions?  did the exhibition showcase a lot of other original designs by others?

Teocaf - Bridge City has no where near the following of Festool.   John caters to a pretty narrow market given 1) they are hand tools and 2) they are not cheap and 3) he builds to order and carries no inventory to speak of.  So his circulation is small.

But he has a very loyal following.  The exhibit in Seattle that started in Portland and will head to Boston is a retrospective on John's work - his early days of designing and building furniture, then his years of creating tools.  His chess set is the only significant piece of work that he has done in wood in perhaps 20 years.  His set appraised for $10,000.  That's the power of a named designer who has work in the Smithsonian.  There were no third party pieces in the tour.

Many may not realize that John taught shop in high school, then became inspired by Sam Maloof and became very close friends with him and much of his early furniture was influenced by Sam's organic shapes.  He was an aspiring furniture maker and became sick, realizing he had a wood dust allergy, and was advised by doctors to stop woodworking.  So he took up tool making, building a staff of 60+, mailing millions of catalogs a year and then 9/11 hit and everyone realized his tools were a luxury and he closed his factory and downsized to a  custom build model.  So he still has that 'design urge' but does it mostly with beautiful tools now in CAD and then contracts with machining shops to create the parts.

That said, he has a solid but small following of his tools.  I would venture to say that he has sold fewer than 2500 Jointmakers, though I know he is now building for the Chinese market where they have very limited space in homes but a strong interest in American made tools.

I've been buying his tools since meeting him 30 years ago on the Woodworking Shows tour and we became friends. 

His tools are an inspiration in work, and that is John's intention.  He has said he wants the work coming out of the tools to be inspired by the beauty of the tools. 

I think he succeeds in that inspiration! 


Most any of his tools that are for sale on eBay are selling for more than they were new which further suggests that he has a pretty loyal following!

neil
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 09:08 PM by neilc »

Offline teocaf

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2014, 10:16 PM »
thanks for the response neil.  i knew a lot of the info you mentioned, having owned some of the bctw tools over the years and following info on his site peripherally from time to time.  i could be remembering incorrectly but i thought that users were invited to submit pieces produced with the jmp to be considered being included in the exhibition.  not seeing the show or the catalog, i was curious if you knew of anyone making anything with these wonderful tools.

Offline neilc

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2014, 12:27 PM »
thanks for the response neil.  i knew a lot of the info you mentioned, having owned some of the bctw tools over the years and following info on his site peripherally from time to time.  i could be remembering incorrectly but i thought that users were invited to submit pieces produced with the jmp to be considered being included in the exhibition.  not seeing the show or the catalog, i was curious if you knew of anyone making anything with these wonderful tools.

You are right.  John did do a call for pieces to include in the show.  There was only one very small piece that was chosen by the curators.  Not sure if it went beyond the Portland show or not.

neil

Offline joraft

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2014, 01:05 PM »
thanks for the response neil.  i knew a lot of the info you mentioned, having owned some of the bctw tools over the years and following info on his site peripherally from time to time.  i could be remembering incorrectly but i thought that users were invited to submit pieces produced with the jmp to be considered being included in the exhibition.  not seeing the show or the catalog, i was curious if you knew of anyone making anything with these wonderful tools.

You might find this thread interesting, lots of photos:

BCTW 30th Anniversary
John

Offline Tim Raleigh

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2014, 06:29 PM »
Neil:
Really nice work. Those BCT planes look cool.
Looks like a Mitutoyo digimatic Caliper in the corner of one of your pictures.
I recently got one, it's an amazing tool.
Tim

Offline CarolinaNomad

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2014, 07:17 PM »
First thing to pop in my mind when reading this thread was Shawshank Redemption.  It must be time for your grand escape. 

Was your prison term 19 months?
Jeff
resides in NAINA

Offline baldguy

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2014, 04:35 AM »
holy crap!

I love and at the same time hate projects like this.  The love part is obvious - it's simply outstanding work.  Impressive craftsmanship, attention to detail, and of course just a beautiful end result.  The hate part is that it makes me realize that the skills I've developed so far are a drop in the ocean of what others out there have. 

I'm truly and deeply impressed.  My hat's off to you, sir. 

Offline neilc

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2014, 11:14 AM »
Carolina - 19 months although it didn't feel like prison except for the tough parts.  Once the pieces started to come together, it was great.  But planing nearly 700 pieces (to have extras) got old after a few days.

Baldguy and others - thank you for the nice compliments. 

We all started from the same place.  Time, inspiration, practice and patience can build the confidence to do better work!

neil

Offline woodguy7

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2014, 03:28 AM »
Beautiful work & i love those planes.  Neil, what do you do for a day job ?
If its made of wood, i can make it smaller.
Shirt size medium
p.s- ive started reading these too

Offline neilc

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2014, 09:21 AM »
Woodguy, thanks.  Yes, John's planes are awesome.  And equally slippery to Festool!

My career has been in sales, marketing, and consulting.

Neil

Offline woodguy7

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2014, 05:42 PM »
Well that makes it even more impressive.
If its made of wood, i can make it smaller.
Shirt size medium
p.s- ive started reading these too

Offline Cheese

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2018, 12:13 AM »
Nice stuff Neil...really nice stuff  [thumbs up]  and I don’t impress easily.

Offline six-point socket II

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2018, 04:00 AM »
Hi Neil,

That's simply incredible, absolutely amazing - beautiful work of art!

Thank you for for sharing!


Cheese, thanks for bringing this back to the top! :)

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
Oliver

Offline tjbnwi

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2018, 08:23 AM »
Incredible....

Tom 

Offline Cheese

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Re: Chess set at precision... (pic heavy)
« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2018, 09:50 AM »
Quote from: neilc link=topic=36195.msg353432#msg353432 date=1416522238

My next JMP project might be a wooden mosaic that is [u
in process[/u].  8000 maple cubes 1/10 of an inch on a side that have been painted and then photo matched to an image.  All with tweezers.



So @neilc ...just curious how the 8000 maple cubes project is coming along?  [drooling]