Introduction: Making an Epoxy Ocean Chessboard
We are so excited to do this project! Dylan has been into chess lately, so it's very important that we make a chessboard! We've never done anything like this before with different colored epoxy or this kind of an epoxy pour, so this is going to be fun!
Step 1: Carving Out MDF Layers With the X-Carve
We use SketchUp to design every single one of our projects and even this one. It helps a ton to visualize and see your ideas in a 3D model. We want to create an ocean 3D topography design for the board. Starting out over on the Inventables X-Carve we are going to carve out the first layer of MDF. We will repeat this carving process until all 4 layers are cut out. There is also 1 more MDF piece, not carved because this will be the bottom.
This is the router bit we used from Bits&Bits: Down Cut 2FL Spiral CNC Bit
You can use the code "WOODBREW15" to get 15% off your order!
Step 2: Glue and Pin Nail Layers Together
Now flipping the MDF pieces over showing the back, we are going to add glue and pin nails to each layer, tacking them down to the layer below.
To clean up the edges, we ran the entire board through the table saw for all 4 sides.
Step 3: Superglue MDF Boards Around the Edges
Next, we need to superglue boards to all the edges for "walls". This is so the epoxy will harden in a rectangular shape. We also sealed the edges with the same super glue and added tape all around the bottom to ensure no epoxy will leak out.
Step 4: Epoxy Time!
Now it's epoxy time! Again we used High Performance Epoxy from Total Boat and this is a 2:1 ratio resin to hardener. These bottles have pumps, so there is no pouring and measuring! It's 1 pump of resin and 1 pump of hardener until you reach your desired amount. We will be doing 6 layers of epoxy and waiting 3 hours between each one. This is so the layer before is still a little tacky, but not hardened. Also to keep the epoxy from overheating. We are using a blue/green pigment to color the epoxy to get the ocean vibe. You can use however much you like to get the color you like. While we do the first layer, we are going to grab a foam brush and brush some epoxy around the seams to help seal up before the next layers. The layers are divided based on the 1/4" MDF layers. So just starting from the bottom and filling up to the top of the first 1/4" layer. If you do forget to do the pours in 3-hour increments, just make sure you sand the last layer a little bit to scuff up the top, so the next layer has some grip. Make sure you take a torch or a heat gun to the wet epoxy to get rid of air bubbles.
Step 5: Carve Out the Squares
We let the very last layer dry overnight and then it was time to carve out the squares. When those were done carving we took a small piece of sandpaper and ran it across the bottom of the squares to get rid of any ridges from the bit. Make sure you clean out all the dust before pouring epoxy into these.
Step 6: Pour Epoxy for the Squares
Speaking of epoxy for the squares, we used some black pigment and some bright blue pigment mixed together in the epoxy to create and really dark blue color. We let this cure for about a day and a half.
Step 7: Sand, Cut Off MDF Sides, Router Edges
Now it's time to sand everything smooth! We started with 150 grit sandpaper on the belt sander and worked our way up to 800 grit with the orbital sander. After that, we brought the board inside to the table saw and cut off the MDF sides to expose the blue epoxy. We loved the look of the exposed epoxy so much that we did away with our plan of making a wooden border. We used a 1/16" round-over bit (use code "WOODBREW15" for 15% off) for the top edges and then chamfered the bottom edges to create a floating look. It looks pretty cool if you ask us.
Step 8: Finish Sanding
Then it was back outside to finish sanding with 1200, 1600, and 2000 grit sandpaper.
Step 9: Polish and Finish
A few last things, we need to first seal up the MDF sides and bottom with some Total Boat Penetrating Epoxy.
So after all that sanding to the top and sides, the epoxy still wasn't shinny or clear. It was still a bit cloudy. So we are going to use a green polishing compound with a piece of leather to really get this board sparkling.
The last thing we did was add some furniture wax. This will be enough protectant to keep it from scratching and dulling, but also not enough that it's difficult to buff and reapply in the future. This is a total gut feeling to use this wax, so really sure how it'll be, but we have hope!
Step 10: DONE
That will be it for the epoxy chessboard! We have another project coming out soon on making the chess pieces! Check back to this page to see the chess pieces!