Leaf Chess Set - Compound Sawing


The classic wooden chess set is always a delight to play the game with and here we have taken the concept of using different characters for the pieces a stage further.


We have used the Great English Oak Leaf for the King, a leaf taken from the Tree of Heaven for the Queen, a leaf from one of the many different varieties of Maple as the Bishop, a prickly Hawthorn for the Knight. The shape of the Tulip tree leaf seemed just right for the Rook and last but definitely not least the simple lines of the Lime leaf are perfect for the Pawns.


We have chosen to use Ash and Walnut following the traditional contrast of light and dark within the set.

The board is fashioned from Obeche & Walnut, its all easier than you think to make and in no time at all you will have created a fine example of a chess set to be proud of, great as a gift or simply for your own indulgence.


. . . . See below fantastic pictures of the Leaf Chess set made by Andy Jakubowski . . . .




Chess Pieces

Walnut: 1220mm x 38mm x 38mm

Ash: 1220mm x 38mm x 38mm


To make the Chess pieces using the Compound sawing method

The art of Compound sawing is making two separate cuts on adjoining sides of one pattern to create a three dimensional piece.


01.  Prepare the wood

Here in the uk it is not always easy to get 38mm x 38mm stock, so to over come this we have glued two 19mm x 114mm x approx 600mm in length boards together (which are much more readily available).


02.  After spreading the glue out evenly on the boards, clamp and remove any glue with a damp cloth.


03.  When dry measure out three rows of 38mm widths, along the length of the board


The Patterns

Make copies of the chess piece patterns as follows:

King and Queen - 2 of each (1 light & 1 dark)

Bishop, Knight and Rook - 4 of each (2 light & 2 dark)  

Pawn - 16 (8 light & 8 dark)

A total of 32 patterns are needed.  


04.  Cut the patterns into the individual pieces, then make a fold along the dotted line.


05.  Use a glue stick or adhersive stray to stick the correct number of patterns to the light and dark wood, make sure the fold of the pattern fits exactly along the edge.  Then use a wide sellotape to wrap around the whole length of the wood covering all sides, doing this will help to lubricate the blade minimising burning.


06.  Next use a Scrollsaw or Bandsaw to cut the lengths of wood into the individual pattern pieces.


07.  Check that the base of each piece is completely flat and level, if necessary use a Disc Sander to achieve this


08.  Then check, using a combination square that the pieces are square.


Cutting out the pieces

09. Some hard woods such as Ash are prone to burning, using a blade bubricant along with the sellotape will all help to reduce this scorching.

Start by cutting out the front profile


10.  Then again use sellotape this time to hold the piece in place within the block.


11.  While you cut out the second side profile


12.  Separating the outer pieces to reveal the inner section is always a good feeling


13.  Just another 31 to go!


14.  When all the chess pieces are cut out, give them a light sanding with fine 280grit sandpaper to remove any bur, then use a tack cloth to clean away any fine dust.


15.  Apply a coat of finishing oil


15.  Wipe away any excess oil with a clean dry cloth and buff to a nice sheen.



FREE Chess set - Pattern downloads

16. Using self-adhesive green felt measure and cut out small squares to cover the base of each piece.


17.  The finishing touches!


Chess pieces - King, Queen, Bishop.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [424.1 KB]
Chess pieces - Knight, Castle, Pawn.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [382.9 KB]
Pawns x 6.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.2 MB]

Andy Jakubowski

Our big thanks to Andy from New York USA, for sending us these fantastic pictures of the Leaf Chess set, he made for his wife :-)

We particually liked the Board, Andy says he used Black Walnut, Maple & Cherry woods.

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