How To Carve A Chess Piece
The game of chess is both aesthetically pleasing and mentally challenging,the knowledge of how to carve chess pieces even more outstanding. Beautiful and timeless moves have been made over the board. Moves that have been etched in the golden ink of chess history. These moves put a smile on every chess player’s face, be it a dazzling combination of deadly sacrifices or a beautiful checkmate resulting from a well thought out attack executed with surgical precision.
These and more are reasons why we love the “Game of Kings”. However, this elegant game would not have existed if not for the chess piece.
Chess pieces or chessmen are the musical keys with which a chess game is played. They are 32 in number.
Each side has 16 pieces. They include the King, Queen, Bishop, Rook, Knight and the Pawn. These pieces all have their roles and when they work together they create the beautiful symphony which we call chess.
Also see: 10 Best Chess Sets Under $100
Chess pieces come in different forms, some of them are plastic, ceramic, aluminium or wood. Some of them are even made with gold!.
But among them all, one of the most aesthetically pleasing is the wooden chess piece. This article will focus on wooden chess pieces and how they are carved.
How Chess Pieces Are Made
Wooden chess pieces are the preferred variety for chess games of the highest level. They bring elegance and beauty to the board. Different types of wood can be used in the making of chess pieces but one of the best is the Rosewood from the Indian state of Chhattisgarh and Sheesham from Punjab. India has been said to be one of the founding homes of chess and it is in this country that the best knowledge on how to carve chess pieces can be acquired.
Workers in Indian factories still maintain the old methods on how to carve chess pieces. The wood arrives at the factories freshly cut. However, because they are freshly cut, they contain a lot of moisture. Therefore they are cut into 45-centimetre blocks with the aid of a cutting machine and sundried on rooftops for 6 months under the hot sun.
The climate in India is usually very hot and this favours the creation of chess pieces.
Turning And Carving
In recent times, the need for mass production and time constraints have restricted the hand carving of most chess pieces.Craftsmen use cutting and turning machines to create these elegant pieces.
To ensure consistency in design, special metallic tools like cutters specifically designed for every kind of piece are used. These cutters are carefully designed with a unique profile that corresponds to the shape of the chess piece they will make.
The cylindrical blocks are rotated at a very high RPM against the turning tools. With various cutting and engraving tools, intricate designs are created on the wood. Usually, it takes about 5-7 minutes to create a piece. Except for the Knight which has a complex shape and asymmetrical design.
Knights are the most beautiful of all pieces and as such, they are carefully handcrafted by skilled workers. Each Knight takes an entire day to come out of the block.
Each piece can take an entire day, however, expert craftsmen can turn out at least 5-7 knights every day.
After this stage, the chess pieces have taken form but they are not ready to play just yet. Weights are added to the pieces to keep them steady on the board. Nobody likes a wobbly chess piece. 30 grams of weight are added to the pawns and 130 grams are added for bigger pieces.
To do this, a hole is created into the base of each piece and the weight is inserted and sealed. Next, felt is also added for the smooth and silent movement of the pieces across the board. Finally, they are polished to give them the alluring shine and luster of a chessman. They are then packed and sent to retail stores where they are sold to lovers of the game.
There you have it, folks, the step by step manual on how to carve chess pieces. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.