Chess Set Restoration - Repairing Cracks in Ebony

IpswichMatt
forked_again wrote:

Tell us about that tiger striped board!  It looks like a good match for antique pieces.

It's just modern veneer crap. It looks quite nice though!

Haverumwilltravel

The original labeled box will add to the value of the set considerably. A key is a bonus because they are usually lost. Very nice set you have there.

IpswichMatt

Thanks!

Simonandonandon

Thanks very much Matt. 

Theyre pretty basic boxes (still v nice though), the mitred corners with the spline/biscuit is a lot easier to make than dovetails- I’ve done a similar join on picture frames. It’s a good honest feature  

I think I’ll make a similar copy but with a flat inset/mitred top, so I can have the old French polished mahogany showing with no new cut edges.

When did Jaques start using divided boxes? Your set is C19th?

IpswichMatt

Yes the label refers to prizes won in 1862, so this has to be later than that. Only the white king has “Jaques London”, which means it’s older than 1890 or 1895, can’t remember which. The boxes are divided from about 1890 or so, can’t remember the exact date of that either. I could check Alan ferst’s book which has this info but can’t be bothered right now.

IpswichMatt

Yes the boxes are fairly basic with regards to the joints. I believe Jaques may have outsourced the manufacture of the boxes but I may be wrong

Haverumwilltravel
IpswichMatt wrote:

Yes the boxes are fairly basic with regards to the joints. I believe Jaques may have outsourced the manufacture of the boxes but I may be wrong

Most chess manufactures outsourced their boxes. I find the older simpler boxes have an appeal as they do to collectors. 

IpswichMatt

Thanks

IpswichMatt

According to the fersht book, the label dates my set to 1862-70.

Boxes were divided from 1890. Both kings were stamped from 1885

Simonandonandon

Excellent. Thanks Matt. 

The shape of my knight dates mine to 1860-65 apparently, so right around the same time. Your set looks in much better/newer condition though. 

IpswichMatt

The finish on my set is in very good nick but quite a few chipped pawn collars, both kings are missing their crosses and one bishop has lost its knobby bit

Checks4Mate
I was reading this out of pure curiosity and am enjoying your thoughts. As a scale modeler myself you are most certainly on the right path. If you choose to take my suggestion, find a scale model hobby store and get yourself some epoxy that would bond with wood. The drying time is pretty quick and your bonding agent won’t run.
forked_again
IpswichMatt wrote:

Yes I've heard that rapid changes in humidity are bad, but I'd never really believed it myself - I thought that it's just a process of moisture leaving the ebony so that it shrinks over time, a one way process, with the cracks getting wider until they reach their maximum width.

Does the wood really expand when the humidity goes up? Maybe it does, in which case the wood would expand and contract with humidity changes, as you suggest. I suspect the answer is out there, and that people with, for example, very expensive musical instruments know all about it and control the humidity and temperature at which they store things - I'll have a google later when I'm not at work and see what I can find.

 

 

I have a cracked Rosewood rook that I put in a box with some moistened foam to humidify the air in the box, and the crack noticably closed up. 

forked_again

forked_again

Haverumwilltravel

A little red dust filler should blend in nice.

forked_again

Red dust filler from where? 

I was trying to show that the top picture was after humidifying, and it looks like the crack closed up.  It's not a very good picture though.  I don't think this helps with repair but it does show that dry wood shrinks and can expand as well, so storing pieces with controlled humidity can be good for them, the same as for guitars.  

It is hot and dry in Colorado right now, not much different than the Arizona desert where I used to live.  

Anyway, as for repairing this piece, I'm a bit baffled because it is a very long crack but for most of it it is a hairline with no gap to add filler.  How would you (anyone) deal with that?

Also, I'm not sure that it is plain polished wood, or if it has been finished witrh some surface tratment.  IT seems very smooth and shiny.  So how could you sand and make the repair match?  Wouldn't you have to basically strip the whole piece and try to match the finish from scratch?

Haverumwilltravel

A little of medium vis cryo glue and red dyed sawdust. I would snag a scrap of the same rose wood and use the dust from that. 

greghunt
forked_again wrote:

Red dust filler from where? 

I was trying to show that the top picture was after humidifying, and it looks like the crack closed up.  It's not a very good picture though.  I don't think this helps with repair but it does show that dry wood shrinks and can expand as well, so storing pieces with controlled humidity can be good for them, the same as for guitars.  

It is hot and dry in Colorado right now, not much different than the Arizona desert where I used to live.  

Anyway, as for repairing this piece, I'm a bit baffled because it is a very long crack but for most of it it is a hairline with no gap to add filler.  How would you (anyone) deal with that?

Also, I'm not sure that it is plain polished wood, or if it has been finished witrh some surface tratment.  IT seems very smooth and shiny.  So how could you sand and make the repair match?  Wouldn't you have to basically strip the whole piece and try to match the finish from scratch?

Some more or less random thoughts:

The crack will open and close with seasonal or shorter term changes in humidity, so the success of filling it will depend on how dry it is when you fill it. 

The width of the crack will probably be greatest where the diameter is greatest, you don't need to fill the whole thing. 

The problem with superglue is how to wipe the glue off when you've filled the crack. Its probably finished with a modern synthetic finish so matching the degree of shine will be an issue if there is some width thats filled.