Living on a homestead, we try to reuse and salvage everything we can. In this instructables we go to the extreme by turning a dirty, one year old chunk of firewood into a rustic checkerboard. We also make some custom checkers from a branch! Beyond the instructable project images we also have a 2 part video on this project here:
Step 1: Cutting the Wood & Staining
Not everyone has an Alaskan chainsaw mill (attachment to mill wood) like we do, we purchased ours on Amazon. Along with the Alaskan chainsaw mill, a rip chain is also needed. If you don't want to mill your own lumber- simply purchase the lumber.
With the Alaskan chainsaw mill we first needed to set the depth of the cut. We set ours at about 1.5 inches. In retrospect I wish I would have set mine a little smaller, like 3/4 of an inch- but we were going for big and rustic. Then I attached my mill to my chainsaw and and was ready to start. Make sure to use safety precautions before beginning (proper shoes, glasses and gloves).
This was the first time I used the mill on my saw, so I was a little apprehensive, but after starting and seeing the finished piece of wood I cut, it was a lot of fun.
After you are finished cutting the wood with your mill, the next step is to cut the boards into 2 inch lengths (and make them at least 16 inches long or longer- you can trim of excess at the end. But be sure to measure a straight line for the first cut to cut off the edges before starting. This way you will have a straight edge to use your tablesaw fence. Cut all your pieces-- optionally (ideally) use a planer to make the boards flat and the same height. We didn't have one and we are going for a rustic look so we skipped this step.
Next you need to stain 4 of the 8 lengths for the dark pieces of the board. In our project we skipped this step and used 4 pieces that were gray and heavily weathered. In the end you will have:
4- 2inch X 8inch white lengths
4- 2inch X 8inch dark.stained lengths
Step 2: Assemble Your Boards and Glue
For the next step you will need wood glue and clamps.
After making your cuts and stain, you then want to assemble your board on a flat surface. You want to alternate white and dark boards so:
- White Board
- Dark Board
- White Board
- White Board
- White Board
For best results after you find where you want the pieces to go, you will want to flip all the pieces over (upside down) so the top of the board is flat.
Next is the gluing part. You will want to use enough glue that everything sticks well together, but not too much where it spills out of the sides. After you are finished gluing, you want to use your clamps to hold the pieces together while everything dries. I would suggest using some old boards and something heavy to put on top so that they don't bulge up on you while drying. This process will take a day or two to dry completely.
After the glue dries comes the fun part! You now have a checkerboard that is just 8 alternating rows of darn and white. The next step is to cut this board the opposite direction- resulting in a new strip that is 2 inches x 8 inches but it has 2 inch squares of dark/white/dark/white etc. You then rotate every other strip to alternate the colors-- so that each white piece has a dark piece to the sides of it. The result is a checkerboard pattern!
Then you repeat the glue and clamp steps like we did in an earlier step- but this time you have the checkerboard pattern.
Step 3: Seal Your Board and Let Dry
After the glue dries, remove the clamps to reveal your unfinished checkerboard. At this point you want to use a rotary sander or sand by hand to clean the board up and make it ready to seal.
The last step in creating your checker board is to seal your board. I used clear poly with a paint brush and applied lightly. I allowed it to dry and then I applied another coat the next day. I chose to do a few coats for better protection.
Step 4: Create the Checkers
Next step is to go out and cut a branch down to make the checker pieces. OR you could buy a dowel from the hardware store.
Once you've found a desired piece preferably about 2 inches in diameter, shave the bark off and sand it down. Then use a table saw and cut the wood into smaller rounds.
After you cut the pieces (12 pieces each, 24 in total) you will want to do a rough sand and stain half of them to the darker color. After they dry we used the same poly seal on all pieces. ALSO make a few extra pieces in case any are lost in the future.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Checker Board!
Put away the smartphones, tablets and electronics and have a fun and competitive game of checkers! We hope you enjoyed this project. We also have a 2 part video on this project below: