Tips on Building a Quality Wooden Poker Chip Case

So you have decided to invest in a poker chip case to store all of your poker chips. Before you get started, whether building the case yourself, or ordering a custom case from a third party, there are some things to consider that differentiate a quality poker chip case from just a plain wooden box.

JOINTS

Joinery is a part of woodworking that involves joining together pieces of wood, to create furniture, structures, toys, and other items. The characteristics of wooden joints – strength, flexibility, toughness, etc. – derive from the properties of the joining materials and from how they are used in the joints. Therefore, different joinery techniques are used to meet differing requirements. When designing a poker chip case, you have to take into account the weight of the chips, which can approach 50 lbs for a 1000 chip case. The joints have to be strong, or the case will fall apart under the weight of the chips.

Most pre-made cases bought on the market utilize a butt joint. A butt joint is a joinery technique in which two members are joined by simply butting them together. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make since it merely involves cutting the members to the appropriate length and butting them together. It is also the weakest because unless some form of reinforcement is used, it relies upon glue alone to hold it together. Because the orientation of the members usually present only end grain to long grain gluing surface, the resulting joint is inherently weak.

When building or ordering a custom chip case, you should avoid butt joints and use a something stronger, such as a dovetail joint. A dovetail joint is a joint technique frequently used in fine woodworking joinery. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart (tensile strength), the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front. A series of pins cut to extend from the end of one board interlock with a series of tails cut into the end of another board. The pins and tails have a trapezoidal shape. Once glued, a wooden dovetail joint requires no mechanical fasteners.

Another simple and strong joint is the mortise and tenon joint, which has been used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world to join pieces of wood. This is commonly used when the pieces are at an angle close to 90°. Although there are many variations on the theme, the basic idea is that the end of one of the members is inserted into a hole cut in the other member. The end of the first member is called the tenon, and it is usually narrowed with respect to the rest of the piece. The hole in the second member is called the mortise. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place.

HARDWARE

Hardware for a poker chip case must also be durable. A variety of hinges and hardware are available, but you should avoid a stamped hinge, which is the weakest type of hinge. When building or ordering a custom case, there are a variety of hinges you may request.

A full length piano hinge is a long narrow hinge that runs the full length of the two surfaces to which its leaves are joined. This imparts additional strength to the hinge when a heavy solid wood lid is used.

Concealed Hinges are used for furniture doors (with or without self-closing feature, and with or without dampening systems). They are made of 2 parts: One part is the hinge cup and the arm; the other part is the mounting plate. They are also called Euro/cup hinges, and give a cleaner look to the case.

FINISH

One thing to consider when choosing a finish for your wooden chip case, is to be sure to use Polyurethane or a non-soluble varnish that does not stain or seep into your chips. You should avoid any type of Oil finish such as Tung or Danish oil, as these oils can penetrate into clay chips over time.

TRAY SIZE

The majority of poker chips are 39mm in size, however, large denomination chips, as well as chips based on the Paulson Inverted Hat and Cane mold, are 43mm size. Be certain that the chip trays are appropriately sized for the type of chips you have. If ordering a custom chip case, be sure to specify the size of your chips.

So when building or designing a custom wooden poker chip case to store your chips, remember to consider the type of joints, hinges, and finish used in the design of you case.

Wooden Poker Chip Cases – So Much Wood, So Little Time!

Whether you are looking to build or purchase a custom wooden poker chip case to house your chips, there is one thing that every woodworking project has in common…wood! With so many different types of wood available, where do you start? Here are a few helpful tips that you may want to consider before choosing the right wood for your case.

The wood of different species varies considerably in weight, strength, and appearance. Softwood is normally uniform in grain (texture) and color. Hardwood produces lumber in which the grain may run vertically or horizontally and may be coarse or smooth. Rarer decorative woods may be cut into thin layers and glued to other wood structures to form a vaneer. There are also several characteristics of wood that you will want to consider.

Grain – the stripes in the wood created by growth rings which may be tight, indicating slow growth, widely spaced, indicating quick growth, or any variation in between. Different woods have distinct grain patterns that help identify them.

Figure – the pattern in the wood that gives it a unique appearance that may be wavy, tiger striped, curly, flaming, or many other variations.

Burl – an unusual growth on a tree that may be caused by a virus or bacteria, often resulting in a highly figured piece of wood.

The type of wood that you may want to use in your case is dependent on a number of factors. When designing a poker chip case, you have to take into account the weight of the chips, which can approach 50 lbs for a 1000 poker chip case. Don’t try to save money by using a 2″ x 2″ piece of spruce from Home Depot! Cases generally need to be made out of a good piece of Hardwood, such as Maple, Cherry or Walnut.

A completely different way to look at things is to choose a wood based on aesthetics. You can choose wood based on figure, color, grain, or texture. Figure can range from Birdseye and Curly to Quilted and Burl. Different wood types have naturally different colors; from white (Holly) to black (Ebony) and red (Bloodwood) to green (Lignum Vitae.) You may want to create a case with a unique grain. Try on some Zebrawood, Rosewood, or even a nice Black Walnut. As far as texture, Leopardwood, Oak, and Wenge have large, open pores, whereas Ebony, Cocobolo, and Hard maple have a very fine texture, making the boards feel smooth to the touch.

Looking at specific wood types and their characteristics, the first type of wood to consider is maple. The sapwood has the color of cream, and is very similar to heartwood, and has a straight grain. Maple is somewhat dense and is strong. Rock Maple is one of the strongest species, and has a reddish color. Curley Maple is especially prized by woodworkers as a hard maple that is generally considered more durable, and often yields woods with exceptional figuring. The undulating pattern of wavy lines found in curley maple results from wood fibers in the tree becoming distorted as they grow. This striking pattern is known by a variety of names, such as ‘rippled’, ‘tiger-striped’, and ‘fiddle-backed’. Ambrosia Maple is a species of hard maple, and the ‘ambrosia’ in the name, refers to the ambrosia beetle. The beetle bores into maple trees that are already cut and deposits a fungus throughout the holes. The fungus reacts with the wood and creates the discoloration associated with ambrosia maple. While the ambrosia beetle penetrates other trees, the maple seems to have partnered with it uniquely to produce an enchanting result. Color can include cream, light brown, and some dark streaks. The grain patterns are artistic and are best characterized as arcing swirls.

The next type of wood which is commonly used for cases is cherry. Cherry may have a pinkish color and may become reddish brown when it is exposed to the sun. Much like maple, cherry tends to have a straight grain and smells like roses when freshly cut. It has a medium level of strength and density, and the finish is excellent. Cherry has a pale yellowish sapwood and a darker heartwood. The wood’s color deepens to its characteristic reddish brown, almost mahogany-like color when exposed to the sun. The sapwood never darkens to the same color of the heartwood. Cherry often shows a waving curly figure when finished. Heartwood can have dark spots or fine black lines that are actually gum pockets, that pose added challenges in finishing. Both maple and cherry tends to be midrange in price, and are excellent for those who want to have a nice case without spending a lot of money.

Walnut lumber is also frequently used for fine wooden cases. The wood’s color deepens to its characteristic reddish brown, almost mahogany-like color when exposed to the sun. The sapwood is creamy white and the heartwood is a rich chocolate or purplish brown in color, with a dull sheen. Black walnut is normally straight grained and is noted for its beautiful grain character, producing more figure variation than any other wood. Over the years the wood develops a lustrous patina. Walnut woods can also have a wavy grain. It has a medium level of density, but is very strong.

Another dark colored wood which is very expensive is ebony. The two types of ebony species which you will commonly see are African ebony and Indian ebony. While most ebony species will have a straight grain, they may also feature a grain which is wavy. It has a high level of density and strength, but is highly brittle as well. If it is well polished, Ebony will showcase a spectacular luster.

Oak is an inexpensive type of wood which typically comes in the form of a light colored sapwood. It has a color which ranges from tan to a yellowish brown color. While it can also be straight grained, it may be irregular as well. Despite being one of the cheapest woods, it has a high level of strength and density. It can also be stained, and although it is good for those on a budget, it is not typically used for custom cases. Much like oak, pine is an inexpensive wood which can be white or yellow in color. It does not have a high level of density, but you have to pay close attention to how you stain pine in order for it to work properly.

Mahogany is one of the most expensive woods you’ll find. It can only be found in west Africa, and it will have a reddish brown color. The grain can be straight, or it can be interlocked. Though it has a medium level of density, it doesn’t have a large amount of strength. It can easily be polished and stained.

There are many varieties of wood available to create that one of a kind poker chip case. If you have a better understanding of the types of wood available, and how they can be used, you will be better equipped to achieve the desired result of a quality finished product.

Custom Wooden Poker Chip Cases – Inlays, Engraving and Other Personalized Touches

If you love poker and are looking for just the right case to house your poker chips, you may want to consider designing a custom wooden poker chip case. There are a multitude of chip cases on the market, but if you want a truly unique case, a wooden poker chip case designed to your specifications with distinctive, personalized touches, may be just the ticket. The basics of designing a case will involve choosing a type of wood for the case, the size or dimensions of the case, and if you want to include chip trays. Once you have decided on all of the basic requirements for your chip case design, you can move on to the fun and creative part of the design process. Here are a few recommendations for unique, personalized touches to help in creating that one of a kind wooden poker chip case.

Add elegance to your wooden chip case with an inlay. Inlay is a decorative technique of inserting pieces of colored materials into depressions in a base object to form patterns or pictures. Inlays commonly use wood veneer. Inlay differs from marquetry, a similar technique, in that marquetry is applied over an entire surface of an object, whereas inlay consists of small pieces inserted into cut spaces cut into the base material. The most popular way to create an inlay is to rout out a panel the exact size and shape, just a shade shallower than the inlay. The decorative inlay is glued down with the face side down. After the work has dried sufficiently, the surface can be sanded and finished. Inlays can be simple or intricate. If you have a theme or logo for your home casino or poker chips, you may want to consider adding the design as an inlay on the lid of your wooden poker chip case.

If your home casino logo, company logo or other personalized design is too intricate for an inlay, you may wish to have the case laser engraved. Wood offers an excellent medium for laser engraving. Typically, a light colored wood like Maple or Cherry is engraved and the image is stained a darker color for contrast. Some darker woods like Mahogany also yield wonderful results. The sky is the limit when using laser engraving. Initials, logos, personalized messages, and even drawings or photos can be engraved in wood. The more intricate the design, the 5more 0time consuming, and of course expensive.

Another decorative accent, that is also a sound structural addition to your wooden poker chip case, is adding a spline at the joints. A spline is a thin strip of wood mounted between two joints, used with the intention of reinforcing the joints and adding extra support. Inserting a spline into a structure is as simple as adding an extra strip of wood between a miter joint. A spline will function to effectively add reinforcement and support to the joints, which is important when considering the weight of the case once all of the chips are in it. The benefit of using a spline in such construction will help to add stiffness to the entire structure and reduce bowing. It will also help to prevent warping to the joint structure. A spline should be used anytime a joist structure is being built in an area where additional weight will be put on it. If the spline is added in a contrasting wood tone, the effect can also be decorative.

So when you designing a custom wooden poker chip case, consider these few personalized touches that will add a unique touch to your one of a kind case.