Checkers, Anyone?

12/31/11

Permalink 01:28:32 am, by daryl Email , 1845 words, 13006 views   English (US)
Categories: Fun, Etc.

Checkers, Anyone?

I think we're ready for some indoor work now. (It was about 38 degrees outside where I was sanding. I was working quickly enough to stay warm, but after a couple of hours I was ready to go inside.)

Sanded squares (close-up)
Sanded squares

Next task: See how the squares fit when they're laid out. Despite my careful cutting and sanding, there were slight differences among the checker squares. (If you think about it, with 8 squares wide even a 1/32" difference in each square can add up to a 1/4" difference across the row.)

I decided to keep the wood grain direction consistent across the whole board and worked my way row by row, column by column, trying different squares until I got a reasonably good fit.

Fitting the squares
Fitting the squares

When I had the fit I wanted, I pulled each square off the board (keeping it oriented properly) and wrote a row/column number on the back in pencil--using 1-8 for rows and A-H for columns. (Yes, I do use Excel at work!) The future "black" squares were marked with an "X" under the row/column numbers. With this information I'll be able to know exactly where each square goes on the board after staining.

Numbering the squares
Numbering the squares

Time to stain! I had some thin sheets of press board in the garage, so I laid those out on my washer and dryer in the laundry room. The room has an exhaust fan, so I figured my oil-based stains could dry (even faster with the aid of a small electric heater) while venting the noxious fumes with the exhaust fan. The washer and dryer were a nice height for working while standing too.

Makeshift work area
Makeshift work area for staining and glueing

Here's the game plan: My checkerboard will be white & black squares, trimmed in red oak. The white will be natural wood color, and the black and red parts I'll stain.

First pass on the black squares: wood conditioner. This ensures the stain won't soak in unevenly (making it blotchy). The wood conditioner is very watery, dries quickly and goes on nicely with a cheap throw-away sponge brush. Gloves make it easy to keep your hands clean.

Wood conditioner
Wood conditioner

After giving the "Ebony" stain a thorough stir, I used another cheap foam brush to coat the top side of all my black squares with stain. (The red squares to the left are some extras I used to test my Red Oak stain that'll be used on the trim.)

Black Squares
Black Squares stained

After about 10 minutes, I used a clean cotton rag to rub the stain on each square. This removes excess stain and helps the wood grain to show through.

Stained and rubbed
The black squares, stained and rubbed

Pretty happy with the results--the dark squares have a sort of antique silvery tone to them. Perfect for an imperfect wooden checkerboard.

Black square close-up
Black squares look pleasantly antique

Another fit test (mostly I wanted to see how the light and dark looked together).

Fit test
Fit test after staining

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Daryl's Take...

"Meandering ruminations, shared for the benefit of those who probably need to get out more."

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