It happens to all of us, you start a project, something more important comes around, and you forget about the first project for a while. I started gluing up a checkerboard in March, then something came up and I ended up leaving the finished glue-up sitting flat on my bench for about a week. When I came back to the project, I found that the board had warped. It curved up because the exposed side lost moisture and shrank and the covered side kept it’s moisture.
Not knowing how to fix it without the board cracking, I just left it sit on my bench (this time with stickers underneath it). A few weeks ago, I decided I was just going to finish it — I really didn’t care if it was warped, at least it would be done and off my bench. Actually with a little help from my new belt sander, the checkerboard came out much better than I expected.
The field of the checkerboard is constructed from maple and walnut. To separate the field from the border, I cut some thin strips of purple heartwood and glued those to each piece of maple border. Then I mitered and fit the combined purple heartwood and maple pieces together rather than separately.
The checkers are made from 1″ walnut and birch dowels — I couldn’t find maple dowels and Birch seemed to match pretty well. They look a little small compared to the size of the squares on the checkerboard, but I didn’t want to pay for thicker walnut dowels. I may try turning some thicker dowels on my lathe or some chess pieces, but my family can play checkers now, so I’m not in a hurry.
I finished the board with two coats of Arm-R-Seal, an oil and urethane mix. Supposedly you are supposed to be able to wipe this finish on and let it dry, but I have mixed results doing it that way. Sometimes I’ll get a sticky residue that I have to remove with mineral spirits, so rather than deal with that, I treat it more like an oil and wipe it off after about 10 minutes. Then I coated the board with two coats or wipe-on urethane. I just gave the checkers three coats of Arm-R-Seal. One the finishes had cured for a few days, I gave the board and checkers a coat of paste wax.