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Advice for making magnetic/metal boards?

FunkOfFortyThousandYears

Hi all,

I'm planning to start building folding/travel chess sets which I'd like to use magnetic pieces on. Not in large numbers as a full time business, more of an etsy scale side-project, I would imagine producing/selling maybe a few dozen (at most) wooden boards per year, and am trying to work out an efficient method for making boards usable with magnetic pieces.

I'm looking for advice/input on how to approach this. Does anyone have experience/ideas about good/bad methods/materials to use?

A few starting points:

1. I don't want a metal surface. I'm planning to have a wooden surface, whether veneer squares glued on top of metal, or maybe a thin plywood surface with the squares painted on etc.

2. I will probably be using fairly small (approx 5x3mm) neodymium/rare-earth magnets for the pieces.

3. Board size will be in the ballpark of 30cm/12" square.

I'm not sure whether to use something like a thin (0.1mm) steel foil/sheet, or perhaps small magnets inset into the centre of each square. Iron filings mixed in with epoxy spread under the board? Anyone have ideas about pros/cons, or what is the "normal" approach?

Thanks

Pawnerai

With any new business venture, it's helpful to ask yourself: What will differentiate your travel magnet board from all the other travel magnet boards already on the market?

Maybe purchase a few travel magnet boards available on the market now and deconstruct them to see what you believe are the pros and cons of each and improve on it. 

Do you have a Proof of Concept prototype of any kind? Or is it all in your head and maybe a few sketches on paper?

You will be competing against travel magnet boards from India and China, so your board will most likely be at least double (maybe even triple) the cost. What makes yours better for the price? 

Have you checked out Magnetus chess sets in your research? It's a pretty cool unique magnet chess product. magnetuschess.com 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZpRR4o43jo

 

MauriceEugene

Put the metal underneath and and the chess board on top painted on a very thin veneer. The chess pieces magnets underneath will still stay

MauriceEugene

At Home Depot they sell extremely strong small button magnets to insert into your chest pieces

FunkOfFortyThousandYears

@Pawnerai

Thanks for that video, that was very cool. I've actually been experimenting lately with the same concept, magnets in both the squares and pieces so they are self-centring and knock resistant. I'm not sure if it's the approach I want to take, and at this stage am just trying to work out materials options, as deciding on materials informs the design choices.

 

In terms of prototyping, I've got the pieces designed and made. I'm a woodworker and the project started as just wanting to make a chess set for myself, but I ended up carving them by CNC so figured I'd go down the route of making more sets, since the time consuming design side was already out of the way. I'm not looking to compete with India/China on price of course, I'm concentrating on just doing a very nice job and selling however many sets as I can, come what may. It's just a sideline and I'm not really thinking of it as a proper business venture.

 

I've got a couple of cheapo sets both of which use a thin sheet steel for the board. I mainly made this thread to get any tips and pointers from anyone who has undertaken making a magnetic board (inspired by seeing the wealth of knowledge and experience shown on this forum in the threads talking about making wooden chess boards and dealing with the subtleties of wood grain, cracking wood, finishing etc).

Pawnerai

Individual neodymium magnets in the center of each square and pieces would certainly differentiate your board from the many others available online. That's 96 magnets per set though. What about a good quality burl veneer? I've never seen that on a 12" travel folding magnet board. If you make a quality product, even at a premium price, the customers will come. 

Bryan-HallWS

For strength and ease I would:

Make a thin board and then use a forstner bit to insert the magnets or metal into the center of each square. Then place another thin board, essentially a lid, on it. This should allow the wood to move around the magnets without struggle. The double layer will fight warp and give strength. Solid wood over a veneer is nice for a travel set that could get a little banged up!

Does this make sense?

FunkOfFortyThousandYears
Bryan-HallWS wrote:

For strength and ease I would:

Make a thin board and then use a forstner bit to insert the magnets or metal into the center of each square. Then place another thin board, essentially a lid, on it. This should allow the wood to move around the magnets without struggle. The double layer will fight warp and give strength. Solid wood over a veneer is nice for a travel set that could get a little banged up!

Does this make sense?

Yes though quite possibly I'll be doing the same thing in reverse, drilling/routing magnet pockets into the underside of the board and then covering up the back

FunkOfFortyThousandYears
Pawnerai wrote:

Individual neodymium magnets in the center of each square and pieces would certainly differentiate your board from the many others available online. That's 96 magnets per set though. What about a good quality burl veneer? I've never seen that on a 12" travel folding magnet board. If you make a quality product, even at a premium price, the customers will come. 

96+ magnets would cost in the region of £10 per set so not too bad, especially as compared to using cheaper/black magnets and thin sheet metal for the board, which would cost at least £5 per set anyway. Considering that I'm not aiming for it to be a budget set it's acceptable. I'll be investigating types of veneers, will see what works out.

Bryan-HallWS

I like your variation better.

Pawnerai
FunkOfFortyThousandYears wrote:

96+ magnets would cost in the region of £10 per set so not too bad, especially as compared to using cheaper/black magnets and thin sheet metal for the board, which would cost at least £5 per set anyway. Considering that I'm not aiming for it to be a budget set it's acceptable. I'll be investigating types of veneers, will see what works out.

Sounds good. Go for it! Have you considered hidden barrel hinges for the folding mechanism? Similar to what JLP uses in their folding boards. Those are sleek. Nice and high-end looking.

Bryan-HallWS
Pawnerai wrote:
FunkOfFortyThousandYears wrote:

96+ magnets would cost in the region of £10 per set so not too bad, especially as compared to using cheaper/black magnets and thin sheet metal for the board, which would cost at least £5 per set anyway. Considering that I'm not aiming for it to be a budget set it's acceptable. I'll be investigating types of veneers, will see what works out.

Sounds good. Go for it! Have you considered hidden barrel hinges for the folding mechanism? Similar to what JLP uses in their folding boards. Those are sleek. Nice and high-end looking.

 

Do you know where those hinges are sold? I love them, but haven't seen them around. 

Pawnerai
Bryan-HallWS wrote:

Do you know where those hinges are sold? I love them, but haven't seen them around. 

I just Googled "hidden barrel hinge". I'm not a woodworker so I'm not familiar with the measurements or requirements. But they look pretty similar to what JLP is using.

https://www.amazon.com/Barrel-Furniture-Concealed-Jewelry-180%C2%B0Opening/dp/B084TLKP88

 

madmacsback
Those hinges are available at Woodcraft, a new other places.
Bryan-HallWS
Pawnerai wrote:
Bryan-HallWS wrote:

Do you know where those hinges are sold? I love them, but haven't seen them around. 

I just Googled "hidden barrel hinge". I'm not a woodworker so I'm not familiar with the measurements or requirements. But they look pretty similar to what JLP is using.

https://www.amazon.com/Barrel-Furniture-Concealed-Jewelry-180%C2%B0Opening/dp/B084TLKP88

 

Nice. I like the brass too. Thanks!