There are a multitude of ways to finish out your homemade chess game board and game pieces. Some are just done because of personal preference while others are down for beauty, durability, or longevity of the finish. Here we will discuss the most popular ways so that you can decide which types of finishes you might prefer.
Most people prefer to shine their chess pieces to a high gloss with a hard wax polishing compound. This works best if you have used hardwood dowels or other hardwoods to create your chess pieces. This is because the wax itself starts out very hard and at high speeds, can actually damage softer woods. Hardwoods can take a great deal of hard wax polishing without being damaged, so this is generally preferred.
The wax is applied to a high speed spinning polishing wheel and the pieces are pushed up against it while it is on. This friction causes heat, which melts the wax a little at a time. As the wax melts, it attaches itself to the fibers in the wood grain. The wood grain cells actually absorb the wax. As it cools, the wood grains expand and harden, leaving the piece with a beautiful glossy polish.
Don’t use solvents and normal cleaners on waxed pieces or the wax can be broken down, becoming sticky or destroyed. Use a dry, soft, lint-free cloth to polish up the pieces after use. This will remove any dirt or body oils that were left lingering on the pieces. Store them inside of something so that they are not exposed to a lot of dust or humidity. You may consider adding drawers to your game board specifically for this purpose.
Some people do prefer the ease of spraying their pieces with lacquer. Most mid-grade pieces that you would buy in a store will be sprayed with lacquer. However, people making their own chess pieces generally do not prefer this method because the lacquer can cover up some of the detail that was so painstakingly created.
Lacquer, however, is the most preferred method for finishing out a handmade chess board. Lacquer can be applied in many layers and then polished with a fine polishing compound. This gives the board a very tough, high gloss finish that will last a lifetime. Very high-end boards may be finished with old fashioned methods, like French Polishing and shellac. If you’re not familiar with these types of finishing techniques, you may want to practice on some scrap materials before you attempt it on your finished pieces.
About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.