"The Rook" Project



December, 2001

Current Owner


Current Location

Sunnyvale, CA


cedar, red oak, poplar, copper, brass


Jewelry holder with independently swiveling elements suggesting but not defining or restricting use.


The Rook is a jewelry holder standing approximately 14" tall. Each section is capable of rotating independently. The sections were designed to "suggest" functions, yet remain flexible in their use. The form was deliberately (and fairly accurately) modeled after a standard chess rook. All of the wood is fine sanded and finished in a dark mahogany stain. The copper is clear-coated to prevent oxidation. The entire project took approximately one month to complete (from design to completion).

Design of The Rook

The design for a themed jewelry holder began with scouring the web for images of classic Chess Rooks. Rooks had the perfect combination of top to bottom balance and suggestive (recognized) shape. The crenellations of a rook would be ideal for hanging necklaces from, provided the top of the rook was nearly as large as the base and larger than the pieces below.

Web research turned up the Royal Staunton chess piece style. This had close to the desired form. An image of the rook was 'reverse engineered', scaled and modeled within Solidworks. The sub-pieces were carefully designed with fabrication in mind. The sectioning of the rook was chosen to provide enough space between sections while still strongly suggesting the overall form. On the smaller sections, holder pegs were included for earrings, rings, and other small items.

To the right is the completed Solidworks model. From this model, detailed dimensioned drawings and 1:1 prints were made of the sub-parts. The 1:1 prints served as templates for cutting of the parts.

Creating the Sawdust

The next phase of the project involved the creation of lots and lots of sawdust. Parts were bandsawed in my "workshop" (garage). Several of the parts underwent a secondary scroll saw operation (for the organizational ribs).

It was important for the organizational ribs to have a generous angle on them to facilitate sliding items out of the 'pocket'. Parts made from two components were glued together using polyurethane adhesive.

The copper tubing was precisely cut in exactly the wrong method (should have borrowed a lathe instead of attempting to use a hacksaw). A little bit of work cleaning up cut-angles and everything ended up straight and true.


Prior to staining, parts were fine sanded. The copper was grained lengthwise and clear coated to prevent oxidation.

Probably the most difficult assembly step involved locating and securing the crenellations on the top piece. This took patience (something I have) and steady hands (something I lack) and a little bit of luck.

Pre-Stain Fit Up

Prior to staining, the parts were fit up. Good news, it all fit and it actually looked like a rook.

You'll note the bottom piece is a different color. This is because (waste-not-want-not) I happened to have a suitable bottom piece (turned by my late grandfather) in my shop. This base piece fit the design perfectly!

Stained and Assembled

From solid model to final product in less than 3 weeks!

Side View

A side view really shows that Staunton rook look. The rook chosen as design inspiration had a curved body. In order to imply this curvature, each of the sub-platforms ends up with a slightly different angle (tangent to the curve at the center of the platform). Yes, this made fabrication more difficult.

The view to the right illustrates The Rook's ability to imply a continuous curvature, in spite of sectioning of the entire form.

In Use

In use, The Rook demonstrates beauty in both form and functionality. Although not shown here, The Rook can hold a lot of jewelry.

The Rook has survived several years of continual day-to-day usage, demonstrating robust assembly and functionality.