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Glow-in-the-Dark Chessboard

And as I am preparing to make a ‘River Table’, I thought I could use some more experience in working with epoxy resin. TL;DR, lessons were learned. I have been thinking of making my own chessboard for quite a while, and this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

The first step was quite strait forward, I glued 4 pieces of oak onto a thin piece of plywood. Then I sawed this into strips which I then glued back to each other, but with every strip rotated by 180 degrees. Of course I messed up, and the squares weren’t really squares. So I had to do the process again, and I ended up with smaller squares.

From the oak slab I had left over, I formed the outer edge of the board. Both parts were lowered into the mold I made from chipboard.

The base of the board in the mold.

Then it was time to mix the epoxy together with the glow-in-the dark dye, and pour the epoxy into the mold.

Epoxy poured and board clamped down.

The first lessons were learned at this stage.

LESSON 1: Secure the object with clamps. Wood is lighter than the epoxy liquid, so it will float. I had to clamp the inner part down, but of course the outer part as well. The metal bars were easy to remove, but the chipboard blocs were a bit harder. Note to self: epoxy is very strong glue!

LESSON 2: Do not forget to add a layer of release agent to the mold! I had planned to spray the mold with Vaseline, which prevents the epoxy from bonding with the mold, but in the heat of the moment I forgot. The sides came off quite easily nevertheless, but the bottom was a pita. Not only the plywood had to be routed out, but the chipboard as well. This meant I had to go knee-deep into sawdust.

Lots of sawdust.

After thicknessing and sanding the board came out quite nicely.

Finished board.
The unfinished base, without lighting fitted.

The next step was to create a pedestal or base of some kind, which would contain the UV-leds. At this point I decided to make the base large enough for chess-piece storage. The led-string was self-adhesive, applying these was quite easy.

Base with UV-leds

The top board fits neatly into the base, giving it a nice glow when the leds are on, and a nice afterglow when turned off.

LESSON 3: Make a test pour with the pigment powder to see how it turns out. I feel I didn’t use enough UV-powder.

The wood was finished with Osmo. This gives the board a nice protective outer layer, while still retaining the feel of the wood. It also darkens the oak a bit, which contrasts nicely with the epoxy.

The final product turned out really nice.

UV-light brightens up the epoxy.
In darkness the LED’s really brighten up the board.

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