Chess/Checkers board

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Project by ferstler posted 03-18-2011 11:24 PM 2088 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Chess boards are a common project for both new and seasoned woodworkers. Not wanting to be left behind, I decided to build one, too, but with a new twist or two.

First, this board has no drawer to hold the pieces. It is designed to be placed on the bottom shelf under a glass-topped end table in our living room, and mostly be viewed from above, and this will be done once I go get some presentable chess pieces to put on the thing.

Second, this board was not made of cherry, walnut, teak, mahogany, or any other costly woods. We live in an age that requires economy (and where less is very often more), and so the board squares were made of individual pieces of good-old select pine, with them glued to a smooth plywood under board, and with the assembly framed by thin strips of cedar that I had left over from an earlier project. Indeed, ALL of the materials (red-oak stain, urethane spray, wood, glue, and four screws to hold the mdf bottom support in place, with felt pads stuck over the recessed flat screw heads) were left overs, with the total immediate cost of the board being zero dollars.

Each square was individually cut with a table saw with a good ripping blade and a miter saw with a good crosscut blade. If you look at the close up shot you will see no tear out at all. It pays to have a good blade. Each was glued in place and if you look at one of the pictures you will see that short, thin wood tabs (cut from tongue depressors) were inserted between the squares as the glue dried. Yes, there are 1/16th-inch-wide gaps between the squares, and those gaps are intentional. This is a statement board that has this different design approach. (My neighbor asked how I would keep the grooves clean and I told him that I own a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment that should do the job just fine.)

Each square is 3/4-inch thick, as is the plywood board they are glued to (initially oversized, but then cut down to within 1/16th inch of the edge squares), with the outer edge framed by a thin cedar strip glued in place. To give the board a nifty appearance, a small mdf base was screwed on underneath. This allows the board to seem to float above the shelf it is sitting on.

The dark squares were stained with Minwax red-oak stain, and the light ones were not stained at all. Five coats of sprayed-on Minwax urethane wrapped up the project.

Now, all I need to do is go purchase some decent looking chess pieces.

Howard Ferstler

3 comments so far

View Doug McPherson's profile

Doug McPherson

114 posts in 4652 days

#1 posted 03-18-2011 11:38 PM

Very nice chess board. Well thought out. I just finished one too. It’s interesting how your approach to the build was very different than mine, but turned out great! Very nice idea in incorporating it with the larger table.

-- DullChiselDoug,

View ABB's profile


24 posts in 4575 days

#2 posted 03-18-2011 11:39 PM

I like both the economy approach and the “free flloating” design of this board. Very creative!

-- Allen, WA

View jack1's profile


2172 posts in 5524 days

#3 posted 03-18-2011 11:41 PM

Nice project. It gives the board a real 3D effect in the pictures so as to pop out at you. Now, if you could take all your “scrap”, make a bunch of these and sell em’... ;0)

good work


-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

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