Patterns / Projects

Hillbilly Chess Set

Stage your own backwoods battle with patterns for a complete chess set

By Mitchell Cartledge

Most of my carvings tend to be small so I can move from an idea to a finished piece relatively quickly. After creating a few typical hillbilly caricatures, they took on a life of their own. It turned into a family feud on opposite sides of a chess board.

I’m not sure if the Hatfields and the McCoys played chess, but if they did, it might look like this set. The king and queen on the red side are the mother and father; the king and queen on the green side are the daughter and her soon-to-be husband—who has a fondness for moonshine. That’s why the bishops accompanying Ma and Pa are preachers and the bishops on the opposing side are moonshine jugs. Mules are a fitting substitute for traditional knights and outhouses serve as a humorous replacement for the rooks.

I use a methodical approach to carving represented by the initials “RBD.” The first step is “R” or roughing out the carving, which is followed by “B” or blocking out the shape. The final step before painting is “D,” which stands for adding detail.

I use an Ortel V-gouge made by Denny Neubauer to rough out the carvings. The V-gouge has straight sides like a V-tool, but the point at the bottom is rounded like a gouge. It is very useful when roughing out and blocking in a carving.

 

Materials:
Basswood: 16 each 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ x 3 3/4″ (32mm x 32mm x 95mm) (pawns)
• Basswood: 4 each 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ x 4 3/4″(32mm x 32mm x 12.1cm) (rooks)
• Basswood: 4 each 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ x 5 1/4″(32mm x 32mm x 13.3cm) (knights)
• Basswood: 4 each 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ x 5 1/2″(32mm x 32mm x 14cm) (bishops)
• Basswood: 4 each 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ x 6 1/4″(32mm x 32mm x 15.9cm) (kings and queens)
• Acrylic paint, such as Liquitex: mixture of equal parts Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna (Red pieces’ overalls and base, add a bit of Mars Black to the mixture for the red pieces’ beard, hair, and shoes); Delta Ceramcoat: Dark Flesh (skin), Bright Red (wash around the mouth), Forest Green (green pieces’ hats), Denim Blue (green pieces’ overalls), Burnt Umber (green pieces’ shoes), Light Ivory (green pieces’ shirts, all highlights, and dry brush for red pieces’ beard, and eye highlight), Brown Iron Oxide (flesh tone highlight wash), Moroccan Red mixed with a bit of Brown Iron Oxide (red pieces’ shirts), Yellow with a bit of Orange (green pieces’ hair)
• Boiled linseed oil
• Burnt umber oil paint
• Polyurethane

Tools:
V-gouge, such as Denny Ortel
• Rough-out knife (I use a custom, sweep-up knife made by Rick Ferry)
• Detail knife
• #11 gouge: 3mm
• #5 gouge: 1/2″ (13mm)
• 60° V-tool, such as Flexcut: 1/4″ (6mm)
• Micro-gouge: 1/8″ (3mm)
• #4 round brush
• #0 round brush or toothpick (eye highlight)


Click on the links below to download the patterns:

First Hillbilly Chess Set Hatfield Pattern.

Second Hillbilly Chess Set Hatfield Pattern.

Third Hillbilly Chess Set Hatfield Pattern.

Fourth Hillbilly Chess Set Hatfield Pattern.

First Hillbilly Chess Set McCoy Pattern.

Second Hillbilly Chess Set McCoy Pattern.

Third Hillbilly Chess Set McCoy Pattern.

Fourth Hillbilly Chess Set McCoy Pattern.

First Hillbilly Chess Set Pattern.

Second Hillbilly Chess Set Pattern.


For more information of carving chess sets read Wooden Chess Sets You Can Make by Diana Thompson. Handcraft a classic or contemporary chess set that will be cherished for years to come. You will learn to create each piece by using compound cuts on the scroll saw. The book is available from www.foxchapelpublishing.com for $14.95 plus S&H.


CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions on how to care the Hillbilly Chess Set in Woodcarving Illustrated Spring 2008 (Issue 44).

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