A supreme luxury set of chess pieces frequently difficult to imagine exactly how much work has gone into creating it, when we see it. There are several phases the producer has to go through in order to wind up with 32 perfect chess pieces that are good enough to pull the ‘luxury’ price tag.
A chess piece generally begins life as a solid block of hardwood which is cut around into an eight sided contour. It is subsequently set into a lathe and turned to it’s correct contour by shoving a really sharp blade against it. The blade is very important. It should be a great reverse of extremely sharp and the required shape. The goal will be to cut into the wood that is spinning without leaving hollows that are little or splintering the wood. Not something a amature can attain quite easily! The outcome must be a perfectly formed chess piece albeit with a slightly rough surface.
Smoothing things over
Another job would be to carefully sand the rough surface away. That is usually done with very fine abrasive paper. Subsequently the piece is polished using a rotating buffer to remove the sanding marks. There are various periods to the sanding and polishing of a chess piece. Mechanical polishing joined with tough wax is used to produce the desired effect.
Even the very best fashion along with quality of chessmen would be nothing without some weight. The chess piece is clamped and a large hole drilled to the bottom. The hole is then filled with molten lead or a steel disc. The metal weight could cause cracking down the road in the event it goes in using a tight fit!
The base is then covered with either a felt circle or a piece of leather to cover up filler and the weight. After this a final stage of polishing occurs. It’s worth noting that during most of the processes each bit must be carefully checked. Pieces that were damaged or defective should be thrown out as well as replaced with a brand new one. Super luxury chess sets will frequently have tiny allowances of what can be considered satisfactory, which can mean the stack of rejects is enormous in comparison with the finished examples.
The classic look that enthusiasts and chess players love is the strong black of ebony wood for the chess pieces that are dark. It appears so deep, so black, so Staunton when polished into a glow that is deep! But Ebony is rarely this black by nature. It will commonly have stripes of dark brown running through it. It’s common practice to stain the ebony jet black to be able to make a uniform blackness.