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Thread: Wenge for a chessboard

  1. #1

    Wenge for a chessboard

    I'm going to build my grandson a chessboard and I'm thinking of making it out of Wenge and Maple. Haven't done much with Wenge, is there anything I should lookout for?
    Best regards,

    Jim
    Lakeside, Oregon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKinney, TX
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    1,648
    Just be prepared for splinters. I can’t hardly walk past my stack of wenge without getting a splinter
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Griswold Connecticut
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    Jim

    Like Steve said, those splinters can be awful. They can be thick, and they can be these whispey little splinters, but they're like barbed when they go in, and they hurt coming out.
    When I do work with wenge, I wear an old welders jacket and gloves. It is the only wood I've ever worn gloves, when working with it in the shop.
    Those are the negatives.
    The positives are that it machines well, sands nicely,doesn't clog up sanders, and it looks beautiful when you're done.
    You have to seal it fairly well when you're finished.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Central MA
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    1,247
    In addition to the splinters, mild to moderate toxicity. Not a show stopper but it’s not benign either.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    San Francisco, CA
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    On wenge, the rift cut and the plainsawn face look quite different. They both look good, but they are different. If I were building a chessboard from it, I'd pick on or the other, and stick with it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hilo, Hawaii
    Posts
    157
    Yes, very splintery. But sands and finished nicely. Oh, and expensive

  7. #7
    Thanks, sounds like I'll need to wear my gloves.
    Best regards,

    Jim
    Lakeside, Oregon

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Wayne, Pa.
    Posts
    489
    My first thought about the woods is that one is very porous and the other quite not. As a woodworking chess player this would bug the crap out of me. A separate point I try to make to anyone I encounter taking on this project, know what you are doing. The size of chess squares should have a close to specific size ratio to the pieces. Do you play? Do you plan to make the pieces and if not, do you have pieces already in mind to go with the board? A quick search online should take you to a ratio guidelines like this https://www.chessusa.com/chess-pieces-size.html.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hilo, Hawaii
    Posts
    157
    I don’t think you have to wear gloves. What i meant by splintery was more with along the lines of taking precautions to avoid tear out.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Cache Valley, Utah
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zac wingert View Post
    I don’t think you have to wear gloves. What i meant by splintery was more with along the lines of taking precautions to avoid tear out.
    You don't have to wear gloves, but it helps. Any decent sized piece of wenge you buy will probably be rough sawn and it's going to have splinters on the edges. They're just as bad as everyone says. As for tearout, I've never had a problem with it.

  11. #11
    No I haven't played chess in years. Thanks for that link, the pieces we picked are right at the sweet spot (77%).
    Best regards,

    Jim
    Lakeside, Oregon

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Griswold Connecticut
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    6,384
    Zac

    I made the comment about the gloves, so I should clarify.
    In my experience with wenge, I used gloves for all of the rough work. Jointing, planing, cutting to size, etc. Especially the jointer. The gloves I used were a very tight fitting, very tactile, glove with a slightly rubberized palm and fingers. The boards I was working with were big, heavy, and long.
    I also used gloves when routering any edges. I also found it very difficult to router the edges and avoid chip out unless I climb cut the edges.
    Just one person's experience.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by John T Barker View Post
    My first thought about the woods is that one is very porous and the other quite not.
    John,

    Wouldn't a good sanding sealer solve that problem?
    Best regards,

    Jim
    Lakeside, Oregon

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    USA
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    5,453
    Curious as to the appeal of wenge for this project? If its contrast, maple and walnut is nice. I recently did maple and cherry.
    20181223_143541.jpg

  15. #15
    I've made one from maple and walnut, looks great. But I have this chunk of wenge and SWMBO saw it and said that what you should use.

    DSCN0880.jpg
    Best regards,

    Jim
    Lakeside, Oregon

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