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White marks on a chess board

  • Posts: 3

donbedggood created the topic: White marks on a chess board

I am above beginner stage in my word working and made my son a chess board, the details is as follows, the dark squares is Burmese Rosewood, the white squares is American White Oak, the inlays is Canadian Beech and the surround is Malaysian Meranti.

It was sand papered from 100 grit to 800 grit, the three coats of Rustin's Danish oil was applied (24 hours between coatings) and then finally two coats of bees wax polish again 24 hours between coatings. Something strange has happened where the glass chess pieces stand white ring the size of the chess piece has appeared (the pieces have felt underside) Please see attached photo.

What advice can my fellow members give me to fix this, must strip and re sand, seal it with the Danish Oils and use a varnish instead of the polish, please help!
  • Posts: 269

Derek replied the topic: White marks on a chess board

First, a beautiful Chess Board.

This is a unique issue and I think a few more details could really help me to find the culprit.
With the ring marks being distributed all over the board I will assume that games are put on hold for a period of time before they are completed leaving the pieces in place. Is this usually a long period of time or relatively short duration ?

Is the chess board receiving a lot of direct sun light while the pieces are left in place ?

What is the humidity like in your area ?

I am asking these questions because my first thought is that you are dealing with Ultra Violet damage/exposure in the wax. My second thought is that there is humidity differences in the wax finish between an area where the pieces are or are not sitting. When felt is used as a protection between two surfaces the contact area difference between a chess piece and a fully exposed section of the wax surface can react differently to both UV light and humidity changes in your home.
Let me know what you have going on in the areas I mentioned and we can start to narrow down the possible causes to the rings.

  • Posts: 3

donbedggood replied the topic: White marks on a chess board

Hi Derek,

Thanks for the respone, the chess board is not exposed to sunlight at all, although the study does get pretty hot during the day. We stay on a farm in the Natal Midlands in South Africa. We are experiencing serious drought at the moment as is large parts of our country. We normally have a high summer rain fall but this eluded us due to the drought.

The white marks are where the chess pieces are set up prior to playing a game. We have always finished a game and never left the pieces all over the board, at the moment we are to scared to do this in case the white marks start showing up all over the board. I have checked the bees wax polish it's a composition of pure bees wax and coconut oli. According to our weather bureau our humidity has been caring between 55 - 98% over the past few weeks. I hope this helps you.
  • Posts: 269

Derek replied the topic: White marks on a chess board

Hmmmmmmm, I would have to say it's the heat and humidity effecting it and the surface that the chess pieces are sitting on are no being exposed to the same level of heat and humidity.

To suggest that there is something wrong with the finish you applied would be the wrong answer to give you. The finish is fine but since you chose Bees Wax there are certain risks that come with it one of which is when exposed to rapid heat or cold it does not react as we would like. Place a hot cup of coffee or a cold beer on the wood and it will quickly show you what the consequences are. Those examples are the extreme. What I am thinking is you have a very slow version of the examples that I gave going on with you board.
Since the humidity in you area is consistently in the high range, the felt bottom and the board surface are not getting the same intake or output of humidity because the felt is acting as a barrier of sorts. If the pieces are sitting there for a prolonged period and the surface can not stabilize it's self then it shows it by causing the ring effect. The ring effect could also be from too much wax and it is not fully buffed out and in combination with the high humidity it compounds the problem between the board surface and the chess pieces.

Keep the chess pieces off of the board ( as you have already done of course ) and let some time pass to see if the wax sorts itself out. I would give it a few weeks and see if the rings slowly disappear. The only thing to do if the rings are still present is to scrape the wax off, sanding and then refinish it completely. A card scraper is the tool I would use to accomplish the task.

If you refinish the board, make sure the bottom of the board is also given some oil ( one coat should be sufficient ) and this will help stabilize the wood and it's ability to expand and contract because of humidity changes or extremes. A light coat or two of the bees wax fully buffed out between coats should be great. Just keep everything off of it when not in use.

If you have anything else on this please let us know and good luck with this. I hope this is of some help.

The following user(s) said Thank You: pammi
  • Posts: 11

The1Joe replied the topic: White marks on a chess board

I know this is an older post but I have to say, what a beautiful chessboard. I hope you were able to resolve your issues.
  • Posts: 486

colin replied the topic: White marks on a chess board

I am almost positive that the problem is not the finish ... believe it or not, the problem is the felt under the chess pieces. To make sure I am correct ... take a similar chess piece, or even better, peal the felt off one chess piece and put it on the board and let is sit for a few days. I think you will find the board does not display the white rings. The problem with felt is that it either attracts moisture or retains moisture, I'm not really sure about that part, but I am quite sure that the felt is the issue. Great looking chess board BTW ...


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