Neil Fyffe, a furniture maker in Selkirk, designed and made four bespoke chess sets for the recent Lindores Abbey Chess Stars Tournament. You can read about engraving the bespoke chessboards and the competition here.
Neil made the chessmen as well as the boards. All the pieces were themed to Lindores Abbey and the distillery. The knights were whisky stills, the bishops were friars and the pawns whisky barrels.
The king pieces represent James IV of Scotland who granted the charter for distilling aqua vitae at Lindores Abbey in 1494. Neil designed the kings to carry shields engraved with 1494 and the lion of Scotland.
Turning photos of lions into vector artwork
Neil wanted ten shields engraved, five each in oak and laburnum to match the chessmen. Then he’d have a couple of spares just in case. He made the shields 35 x 45mm and around 3mm thick. Pretty small!
He wanted the date to be in Nyala font. Neil also sent a photograph of a lion drawing that he wanted to use. I managed to trace it to create a vector image that I could rescale for a good quality engrave. There was a lot of detail on the lion, and I wanted to make sure it came out as crisply as possible.
Engraving tiny wooden shields
I made up a proof scaled as Neil wanted, performed a test engrave to make sure it would work, and sent a proof to Neil. When gave the go ahead, I engraved the shields. You can see one of the laburnum ones being engraved below.
I created a little rectangular jig to sit the shields in, and held them in place securely so they couldn’t move. For best results, I ran the laser slowly so make sure that the detail was as sharp as possible. Neil was delighted with the results.