How to Make a Chess Board Out of Wood

Written by b.t. alo
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How to Make a Chess Board Out of Wood
Make your own wooden chess board. (chess image by AGphotographer from

A handmade wooden chess board is a very special thing to have, especially if you made it yourself. Making a chess board out of wood requires a certain amount of precision to achieve a professional looking board, but it is not so hard that a novice woodworker can’t undertake the project. One of the most important aspects of the job is to find some good specimens of light and dark wood to work with, so that your homemade chess board is really a thing of beauty.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 4 wood planks, 16 x 2 x 1 inches, dark colour
  • 4 wood planks, 16 x 2 x 1 inches, light colour
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • 4 wood planks, 17 x 1 x 1 inches
  • 1 wood slab, 17 x 17 x ½ inches
  • Drill
  • Screws, 1 inch
  • Wood putty
  • Sander
  • Varnish
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Assemble the 16-inch planks in alternating colours to form a 16-by16 inch square. The square will be striped. Apply wood glue in between each plank, then clamp them all tightly together, making sure the ends are flush. Let dry.

  2. 2

    Rule a line every two inches across the striped square (with the line intersecting the stripes) to form two-inch squares.

  3. 3

    Cut along these lines with the saw (a drop or table saw is ideal), so that you have eight lengths of wood, each with alternating colour squares on them.

  4. 4

    Reassemble the 16-by-16 inch square, this time alternating the planks so that the squares of colour make a checkered pattern, for the checkered playing area of the chess board. Apply wood glue in between the planks, clamp them tightly together with the ends flush, and let dry.

  5. 5

    Mitre the ends of the 17-inch planks to a 45 degree angle with the saw. Assemble them into a square frame with the mitred ends forming right-angled corners. Glue the corners, clamp, and let dry.

  6. 6

    Dry fit the frame around the checkered board (it should fit snugly), and sand down any areas that are obstructing a good fit.

  7. 7

    Center the frame over the 17-by-17 inch slab, edges flush. Glue down, let dry. Turn the slab over, then pre-drill a ¾ inch hole every two or three inches along the bottom of the slab into the bottom of the frame. Screw the frame in place using the pre-drilled holes. Turn the board upright again.

  8. 8

    Line the bottom and sides of the slab and frame with wood glue. Insert the checkered board into the frame and slab (it should fit well). If there are any small gaps, fill them with a wood putty in the same colour as the adjacent wood. Clamp and let dry.

  9. 9

    Sand the surface of the board and frame well. Apply a coat or two of varnish, using the varnish manufacturer’s drying times as a guide.

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