Chess Pieces?

Hey folks, I’m still on the fence about whether or not the X-carve is the right machine for me. I’m a novice when it comes to wood working in general and even more so when it comes to CNC/Carving and Routing.

Simply put - is the X-carve capable of making chess pieces? I would assume in order for the pieces to be symmetrical each side of the piece would have to be done separately? Was curious to see if anyone has tried this or something very similar.

Thanks! I’ve got a lot of ideas swimming around in my head for this beautiful piece of kit, and I’ve been wanting to make my own chess pieces for years.


With the three axis (X,Y,Z) of the X-Carve you can carve 2.5D objects (with the right software). This means that starting from the bottom of the work surface your carved object must only get smaller (or remain the same size) the higher above the work surface you travel. So there are no overhanging elements.

This means you would not be able to carve pieces that look like this

It would be possible (difficult but possible) to carve a piece like this if you carved it from the top and then turned the work over and carved the other side.

To cut a traditional chess piece you would need a 4 axis machine and the appropriate software to control it.

The three axis X-Carve is better suited to making the chess board (with intricate inlays) than the pieces themselves.

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You could do these:

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If you decide to go with the X-Crave take a look at the V-Carve Pro software option (Discounted if you purchase it with the machine)
V-Carve has a video tutorial for 2 sided carving with their software. (Care one side, flip, carve the other side) I recommend taking a look so you can see what is involved.

While it is possible to modify the X-Crave to add a 4th Axis that is going to be a very advanced project.
For more info check out the various 4th axis threads.
There is a simpler rack and pinion setup that could work for rotary carving with minimal modification. I may give this a try myself.
I think the V-care Pro software will support this via the “Wrapped Rotary Axis Toolpaths” feature.

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Most of the features of the chess pieces shown above could be cut if you split them down the middle, laid the halves down, and cut two mirrored sides. 3D cuts though.


That is a good point @DavidBrown, I did not consider making them in two pieces and then glueing them together.

I saw this a while back: It may be considerably more difficult with a mill instead of a laser cutter, but if you know the precise widths of the pieces and a small enough cutter, you may be able to get good detail.


Thank you for all the suggestions. It’s a touch intimidating for a newbie… but this is a good opportunity to start learning.