I planned on not finishing the chess pieces with anything; the intention was to let the wood speak for itself. Also, protection from the elements is not a major concern!
BUT THEN I found myself wiping the pieces with a wet cloth to raise the grain for a final sanding and the moisture made the wood glow and the grain pattern scream for attention! I could no longer avoid some finishing touches…
I dressed both the the chess men and the board with 3 coats of 100% tung oil (the first coat was cut with mineral spirits, about 50-50).
Putting ‘shoes’ on the chessmen prevents the board from being damaged, allows the pieces slide easy when pushed and makes for a nice ‘thud’ sound when the pieces are placed down. Just some dark green felt was used, cut into circles and wood-glued to the base of the pieces. The felt can be torn off the pieces if it ever needs to be replaced with new material, or their feet get stinky from energetic chessing.
It is a nice finishing touch. And just in time for a Christmas break.