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Handmade Oak Backgammon Board Inlaid with Walnut and Ash

1st July 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I had a lot of fun making a backgammon board with Oak and veneers of Ash and Walnut. It’s the first project I’ve made which has involved a lot of veneering, and it’s been a real joy to learn some new skills (and I even got to buy a couple of new tools – always a bonus).


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Here’s a photo diary of how it was constructed and some images of how the project turned out….

The initials were planned out on the board to make sure they were the perfect size and fitted with the style of the piece.

The veneer is cut with a specialist veneer saw which is set up to cut on the pull stroke (most European saws are set up to cut on the push stroke). It’s a cute little tool (top of image with a yellow/orange handle) but takes a bit of practice.

Routing out the triangles

The main body of the board was a panel of Oak veneered MDF. In order to insert the Ash and Walnut sections, each triangle was scribed around and the router was used to remove a 0.6mm slice from the panel. There’s a lot of work involved with various chisels to get the edges of these rebated sections square and straight.

The most efficient way to veneer smaller items is to clamp them in a vacuum press. I don’t have one of these yet, so I prepared and clamped one side of each board at a time.

Because the veneers are fragile and liable to split, cup, and creep, veneer tape is used to hold the pieces in place prior to going in the clamped.

The triangles are glued with Araldite. PVA and standard wood glue like Titebond isn’t really suitable for veneer because it has a high water content which expands the veneers and may cause cracks when they dry out. Instead, I used Araldite because it’s supper strong and epoxy-resin based so doesn’t introduce any extra moisture.

The veneered panels were assembled into grooves in their dove-tailed frames, and glued as normal.

I made this little jig to hold the solid Ash and Walnut stock at 60 degrees to the blade of the bandsaw. It worked very nicely, but required quite a bit of clean up on the linisher and by hand with sand paper.

The counters are one of the best parts of this project. Although they were cut with a jig on the band saw, each one was hand sanded and finished so they are all a little bit different.


And here’s the finished board. If you’d like to see more photo’s of this project, check out the project page on the HM HandMade website here…


…and here’s the finish piece. A real pleasure to make, so a big thank you to Charlie and all the Mills’ for commissioning it.



If you would like to see more projects by HM HandMade, please check out the website here…




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