Ever thought about making a unique checker or chess board that is completely personalized to the intended recipient? Sometimes the simplest projects are the easiest to overlook, but with a bit of flair from a woodburning and carving tool these old style games icons come roaring back in style with a new look.
Blending Intarsia and Woodburning
Intarsia is the beautiful art of carefully cutting and blending different types of wood together to create a new and unique look that appears seamless. The goal is to cut the pieces to fit so that they will maintain their form without the aid of wood glue, however there are no rules against using wood glue to seat the bond permanently.
One of the most interesting things that intarsia brings to the mix is the vast assortment of wood types to choose from. Some woods maintain their shape and color much better than others so before beginning a project on intarsia spend a bit of time reviewing the available woods and their properties. A partial list can be found here.
Within the intarsia framework the woodburning pen can be used to draw pictures, add shading and create depth and dimension to an individual image. These same techniques can be easily transferred to the game pieces themselves as the project progresses.
Building the Board and Individual Game Pieces
To build a game board carefully measure the outline of an existing game board to determine the proper placement of the interior squares. To make the process easier create a template for cutting multiple pieces. Most hobbyists prefer to use a scroll saw or band saw for making faster and multiple tight precision cuts. For intarsia, hobbyists will want to use wood types that resist shrinkage since intarsia relies on a snug fit.
Individual pieces should have a common height and base. When working with small pieces its helpful to set up a proper work bench with grips or vices that allow the hobbyist to work with both hands for smaller cuts. Once the shape has been established using woodcvarving tools, hobbyists can go over the piece again with a woodburning tool to create added depth and dimension.
When using the woodburning tool its important to remember that a quick light stroke will give a soft line while holding the pen tip to the wood longer will create darker burns. Light strokes can always be darkened later if necessary.
More Wooden Game Creation Ideas
Having a tough time coming up with the next project? Start with a simple dice or domino set and build from there. Try adding intarsia inlay to the board itself to make a dramatic impact. With intarsia each block can contain its own picture story. When ready to move on to a different game, consider Mahjong, dice, dominoes, backgammon and more classic games. Let creativity be a guide and follow it wherever it leads.