Homemade Chess Board


So, I decided to give it a try to make a chessboard at home. I thought about going a little bigger (2.25" squares and about 20.5" total board width) but I thought a smaller project would be better. Later down the road, I might make a slightly larger one, and maybe try some drawers but for now a simple board will give me a feel for making them.

I'm going to be going with 1.5" squares and a total of 12" playing surface, not sure about total size with border yet (haven't made border and don't know what I'm going to do exactly). Anyway, today was day 1 of the build, and I will post pictures along the way for those who are interested in taking a look.

So far, strips have been cut, and now I have started the lamination process. Heres what it looks like right now.


Maple and Walnut since its my first time. Relatively inexpensive, walnut isn't as cheap as maple but it is a lot cheaper than the nice exotic woods. Maybe get some real unique woods if I decide to make a little bit nicer one, maybe an inlay strip around it.. I'll have more pictures up tomorrow. I have some extra walnut though, so I may just wind up going with walnut and maple again.


Way to go! I plan on a similar project, and am appreciative of all the pics and tips that you post. Keep us up to date.


Will do! If you have any questions feel free to ask. Here are some more pictures from yesterday. Hope you all enjoy.

This is all the strips glued together after being dry.

Below, is after I had planed everything flat and sanded a little bit. Time to cut.

After I had cut my 8 strips.

Flip every other one over and you have a chess board. time to glue some more.

My soon-to-be borders. Gluing a thin strip of maple to break up the edge of the board so the playing squares don't blend in together.

Everything clamped and drying

Board planed again and sanded a little, border pieces down to the same size, not just need to cut my 45 degree so they come together nice.

Borders cut to size, just set together to see that they all line up the way I like before I glue. I'm satisfied. Let's go!

Band clamp to pull edges/corners together, and clamps used because I want everything to be as close as possible.

Back in the barn today and everything will be dry, time for a lot of sanding. More pics coming soon!


Wow! That's really awesome! You've got some nice equipment there! I bet you could sell some of these boards as well!


great work!



Nice work!  This looks like one I made a few years ago.  You might want to consider taking a 45 degree router around the underside of the board's perimeter -- so that it's easier to pick up the finished board off of flat surfaces (something I discovered when I made mine).


First law of woodworking: you can never have too many clamps :-) Looks really nice so far!


How do you remove the excess glue? It appears that you're letting it dry out first.

Thinking ahead to my project.


Ok, so after everything has dried after the glue, I had a lot of sanding ahead of me. Started with 60 grit, then 100, 150, 220, and then 400 and this is what I wound up with.

After that, I wiped down both sids well with a tack cloth. Then I sprayed it with Deft satan wood finish in a spray can, since this was a relatively small project I didn't want to mess with the manly spray gun. I put on 2 coats lightly on the back, sanded again with 600 lightly to knock off the splintery things, and wiped with a tack cloth. Sprayed again with 2 light coats, sanded lightly once again, and hit it with the tack cloth again to pick up the sand paper dust. Sprayed 2 more slightly heavier coats and called it good for the back. Did the same with the top. Only sanded when needed and I left out the drying time which I am guessing is pretty obvious that I had to wait a little while in between all of this.

EDIT: I forgot to post the pictures of after I sprayed the finish. Finishing it made the colors and grain of the wood pop out a lot more, I'm very happy with the outcome! Here are a couple picture of it.

Now to the responses:

Krames, thank you. I'm happy with the way it turned out. Chess, thank you! Actually on of my advisors at school saw a picture of it on my facebook and asked me how much I would charge him to make one! lol. Eric, I had thought about that, but I am going to be putting 5 felt dots on the back so it will be slightly raised off of the table. Meta, no kidding and thank you! I have so many of those pipe clamps anywhere between 1-6 feet. Dad is an avid woodworker so we had all the stuff to make the project go smoothly. Jay, you can wipe the excess glue off with a damp rag and that will get most of it, but you will either need to sand the remaining off or send it through a planer. I did both, since we only have a 12" planer, I could only do it for the strips all glued together and after the playing area was glued. The planer also gave it a nice flat finish, but after the borders were glued on and dried I had to sand a lot! The youtube video "How to make a chess board" helped me as well just with the little things I didn't think about, its a 7 part series and the link is   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_MlMjwBLPM   if you haven't seen it I found it to be useful in a way, althought the board he makes has drawers and is more than I wanted to try and tackle for my first chess board, so I kept it simple. Frackle, I thought about it but it would take FOREVER haha. Not worth it to me since I can get a set of pieces for $30-40 online. Although Dad is a machinist and could make some sweet custom metal pieces, or we could hand carve them on the wood lathe. Like I said though, not worth it at the moment for me.

If anyone has any specific questions feel free to message me or post on here. I know this wasn't a "how to" post, but I hope it has been of some use to some of you.


Haha, you got it! I just ordered them 30 minutes ago. So it will probably be around Friday or so.


That is a wonderful that way you showed us how to make a board. Thanks.


You did an impresive job with that.  It's amazing for a first board!

My first was an impressively spectacular train wreck.  I wish I had pictures, so you could feel even better about yourself.  It was just horrible.

This was my third and most recent, using the same basic technique you did.  I provided a contrasting frame for my board using mahogany and cherry, then I built a set of cherry drawers under it to hold my chess set.  I made the legs out of oak, because that's what I had.  The little oak strips in the sides are what I came up with to hide where I cut wrong and had to "stretch" my boards.  Oops.  I only had the one piece of cherry, so I had to fake it.



Nice, I would like to do another one a little bigger with drawers next time. But that will be a while probably. The drawers on yours look nice! I wouldn't worry too much about the stretched side, I almost messed up a few times with this simple one. I appreciate all the comments. Thank you everyone.


As frackle wished, a picture with the pieces that just came in today.


very nice.


Sweeeeeeet!  That set really works well with that board.

I would be so impressed with my son if he ever managed to create something like that.  Chess boards are harder to do well than they look.  You did a better job on your first than I did on my third, and you're just getting started.

Of course it helps that you have 232,000 clamps. Laughing


Haha, Thanks Arbor! Dad kept to himself the entire time I was working on it. I did most of it when he was at work. After I had finished the whole thing and got ready to head back to school from spring break, he said "I was expecting you to get half way done and give up." So I'd imagine your son will impress you when your least expecting it at some point.


My son impresses me all the time, just not in the wood shop.  He never did take much of an interest, and that's just fine.  Nobody should think I'm not proud of the fine young man I've helped become who he is.


I didn't mean it like that at all! I guess that could have came off in the wrong way. Sorry about that.