Finishing and Polishing

The finishing of chess sets is another issue that we can go into great detail on. There are various ways of finishing chess pieces and boards, both are done very differently.

Finishing chessmen

The most common way to finish chess pieces is by polishing them up to a gloss using a hard wax compound. Assuming you have used a quality hardwood to make the chessmen they should take a good degree of motorised polishing very well. The typical method involves a fast spinning polishing wheel and a block of super hard wax, in fact in it’s natural state the wax is so hard it’s almost like glass.

The wax is pushed against the spinning polishing wheel and the friction heats up both surfaces. Tiny amounts of the wax then melt and become attached to the fibres of the wheel. These then impregnate themselves into the wood grain of the piece and of course the wax re hardens as it cools. The result is a beautifully polished chess piece!

Some chessmen are lacquered, this is typically sprayed on and then polished to a shine once dry. Lacquering can detract from the fine carvings and detail of luxury chessmen so it’s generally reserved for mid priced chess pieces

Finishing chess boards

Finishing chess boards can be done in a variety of ways. Indeed some boards are finished in the same way as chess pieces but generally speaking they tend to be lacquered.

Veneer boards tend to be finished with a very thin coat of lacquer that is then left with a matt finish. Other boards utilise many coats of lacquer that are then polished up to a fine shine with polishing compound.

Old fashioned methods such as French Polishing and shellac are also used on very high end chess boards.