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Thread: Chess set and a question

  1. #1

    Chess set and a question

    I'm new to the lathe (as of last October), and I recently finished my first big project. The board is Australian Blackwood and Western Maple. The light pieces are spalted figure maple (taken from my not-to-burn-firewood stash). The major dark pieces and three pawns are cocobola. Once my face swelled up, I made three pawns with Blackwood. But they didn't excite me, so the last two are Bubinga.
    chessset-photo.jpg
    Here's my question: I don't yet have any clamp. I just use the spur drive and a live center. So what's the best way to cut the finished pieces away from the remaining dowel, and get a really flat bottom? I used my mitre saw, but it's stupidly dangerous since the pieces are so small. I'd like to do another chess set (using the same wood for all the pieces in each color), but I have to find a better way.

  2. #2
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    Assuming I'm understanding you correctly, just use your parting tool to trim the piece under the base... you can either keep parting until it falls off, or get it down to about 1/16"-3/32" in diameter and then snap it off (watch the grain, it can tear out from the base).
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    Cutting them off with a dovetail saw is much less dangerous than a miter saw. Nice set!! I have sketches of a set drawn up but the design is a little too ambitous for my skill level right now.
    Deane
    Last edited by Deane Allinson; 02-22-2012 at 12:42 PM.
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  4. #4
    Thanks for both ideas. I'm not familiar with a dovetail saw. I'll google it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Hintz View Post
    use your parting tool to trim the piece under the base... you can either keep parting until it falls off.....
    Since you are using a spur drive and live center, it won't just fall off. As the spur center is not actually holding on to the wood, everything is going to go flying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Hintz View Post
    ..... get it down to about 1/16"-3/32" in diameter and then snap it off (watch the grain, it can tear out from the base).
    I agree with Dan here. This is what I would do. The only thing is that you do not want a FLAT base. You want a very slight concave base so nothing rocks and they stand up straight. In order to do this, push the parting tool in at a very slight angle, then snap off and clean it up. It seems like it would be hard to cut the base of irregular pieces square with a saw. YMMV
    Last edited by Robert McGowen; 02-22-2012 at 12:54 PM.

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    Thats very nice work! Being new to turning as well, I bought my chess pieces to go with the first chess board I just made. I wanted a 'life size' template to compare to when I try to turn my first set!

    thanks for sharing

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    I would be very careful to not put too much pressure on the piece with the tailstock.

    After getting it finished turned and ready to be cut away, I'd use a freshly sharpened parting tool to take the "stems" at each end down to about 1/16" to 1/8". Use very light cuts and you might have to support the piece on the backside with your fingers while paring it down. Then remove it from the lathe and use either a utility knife with a fresh blade or a freshly honed skew and carve the little stems away.

    Very nice set BTW! Turning similar multiples is a test of one's turning skills IMHO.
    Ken

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    Since both ends are supported; I would finish as much as possible. Then part off the base down to about 1/8 or less, if you make several cuts you can widen the kerf and make the base slightly concave. Then go back and finish turning the top and part-off leaving as clean as possible. You should be able to part off the top with a skew or a spindle gouge. Last trim off the nub at the base off the lathe and sand the base. As others said, be ready to catch it when you cut it loose from the tailstock end; it should not be a problem with something so small, just keep your fingers around it as you make the last cuts.
    At about the 6:30-7:30 minutes section of this video it shows how to make the wider kerf I referred to before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W2m9JCG6IY
    John (john60lucas) has several other good videos on spindle work also.
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    I would suggest getting a screw chuck or bottle stopper chuck. (Linked items are by no means the only sources for these)

    These can be acquired for little $$ compared to a scroll chuck and are well suited for this kind of work.

    This would allow you to cut the bottom straight across what will be the bottom of the piece while the blank is square (in you mitre saw even). You could then use a drill press and predill the needed hole to screw in the screw chuck or to tap the hole for the bottle stopper chuck(usually 3/8x16). After mounting you can turn the piece just as you did with the spur drive and live center but after rounding and some initial shaping you can bring the tailstock away from you chess piece and finish off the top part of the piece.

    Nice work on the set you've already completed. I have wanted to start a chess board project but have so far avoided it because of the flatwork involved.


    When complete there are numerous creative ways to cover the screw hole starting with a simple adhesive backed green felt circle or a more fancy dowel plug of the contrasting wood (better with the larger bottle stopper chuck hole). I have also thought of buying a bunch of 3/8x16 set screws and threading them into the bottle stopper chuck hole for some weight/ballast to the bottom of each piece.

  10. #10
    One option would be to put an overlength piece between centers, and turn a taper on one end that can be driven into the taper of the spindle. This will allow for the piece to be turned, have the tailstock end cut cleanly off, and then part the piece with a slight hollow to the base free from the waste jammed into the spindle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Mills View Post
    As others said, be ready to catch it when you cut it loose from the tailstock end; it should not be a problem with something so small, just keep your fingers around it as you make the last cuts.
    Maybe I just don't know what a spur drive is, which is what the OP said they are using. A spur drive does not hold onto the wood, like a chuck. If you are using a spur drive and suddenly remove the tailstock, which is what you are essentially doing by parting off the chess piece, you might very well end up catching the chess piece, but the piece that was formerly being pressed into the spur won't be attached to anything and will go flying.

    In the video that is referenced, it is clear that he is using a CHUCK at the 6:30 mark!
    Last edited by Robert McGowen; 02-22-2012 at 2:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert McGowen View Post
    Maybe I just don't know what a spur drive is, which is what the OP said they are using. A spur drive does not hold onto the wood, like a chuck. If you are using a spur drive and suddenly remove the tailstock, which is what you are essentially doing by parting off the chess piece, you might very well end up catching the chess piece, but the piece that was formerly being pressed into the spur won't be attached to anything and will go flying.

    In the video that is referenced, it is clear that he is using a CHUCK at the 6:30 mark!
    You can part off of a chuck using the same method of parting down until there's nothing holding on... hold your hand around the part and dig until you've spun it free. Yes, it will "fly", but if your hand is around it, it won't fly far.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Miner View Post
    One option would be to put an overlength piece between centers, and turn a taper on one end that can be driven into the taper of the spindle. This will allow for the piece to be turned, have the tailstock end cut cleanly off, and then part the piece with a slight hollow to the base free from the waste jammed into the spindle.
    What a good idea. If I can turn a taper close enough, this might work -- assuming I can learn to part with one hand and hold onto the piece with the other. (I have lots of burnable firewood, so lots to practice with.)

    Chris, thanks for pointing me to the screw chuck and bottle stopper chuck. I didn't know of them, and they sound promising, too, though Dale's idea would leave me without a hole to fill in the bottom.

    With western maple, I've found that parting down to less than about 1/4" is inclined to break, even at slow speed. And then both pieces just go flying.

    I appreciate the kind comments and the excellent ideas! And I'm still open to more ideas.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Hintz View Post
    You can part off of a chuck using the same method of parting down until there's nothing holding on... hold your hand around the part and dig until you've spun it free. Yes, it will "fly", but if your hand is around it, it won't fly far.
    I totally agree. I did that in the last 30 minutes with a 14" platter and have done it with almost every vase I have made, even really large ones. I guess few people read the OP close enough to see that they are NOT USING A CHUCK. PEOPLE KEEP TELLING HER TO PART IT OFF WHILE USING A SPUR DRIVE. As she just posted "And then both pieces just go flying."

    My wife tells me I have trouble communicating. It would appear that she is obviously correct!

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    "What a good idea. If I can turn a taper close enough, this might work -- assuming I can learn to part with one hand and hold onto the piece with the other. (I have lots of burnable firewood, so lots to practice with.)"


    I'm fairly sure the video link I posted earlier shows how to make a taper quickly. For a very small piece (like chess pieces) I would put a small cloth on the lathe bed and just let it drop off.
    Wear a face shield anyway.
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