Chess Board

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Project by SPalm posted 12-17-2013 01:43 PM 3902 views 11 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a request to make a chess board. Never having done this before, I thought it would be quite a challenge. It actually went really well and was a lot of fun. Nice diversion from cabinet building.

I started by making a 2” strip of plywood with a sandpaper bottom to be used as a cutting guide. And then sharpened my veneer saw. I cut 2” strips of maple and rosewood veneers to make the field. I then taped these together in an alternating sequence. Next back to the strip saw setup to make more 2” strips for the checker board pattern. I taped up the pattern, flipped it over, added veneer tape over all the seams, and then removed the blue tape from the first side.

I spread glue on a piece of ½ inch MDF that was slightly larger, and placed the pattern. I glued a sheet of cherry veneer on the bottom. Then off to the vacuum press for an hour. I cut the board to size, removed the veneer tape, added a walnut boarder, sanded, put a top and bottom chamfer all around the outside, and applied a finish.

I am very happy with the result. There are no gaps, even though I just used a veneer saw. And it went quite quickly. I could see myself building another one someday.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

39 comments so far

View kdc68's profile


3016 posts in 3518 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 01:50 PM

Well done !....The rosewood and maple contrast perfectly. Thank you for a detailed explanation

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6875 posts in 5221 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 01:51 PM

Hi Steve,

That looks more like a checkers board to me.

Nice job though.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4310 days

#3 posted 12-17-2013 01:52 PM

Sweet! Having never done veneer work, your details lend quite a bit of knowledge.

The board look great – job well done!



-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5123 days

#4 posted 12-17-2013 01:53 PM

You are right Lee. It is for checkers.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4890 days

#5 posted 12-17-2013 01:56 PM

very elegant. is there a sub-strut the veneer is mounted onto?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4576 days

#6 posted 12-17-2013 02:00 PM

Nice work Steve! You made it look so easy with your step by step photos that I might try one myself sometime. That maple was very white and it looks great with the rosewood (just echoing kdc68) but it does. A good sharp veneer saw is adequate in the hands of a master!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5123 days

#7 posted 12-17-2013 02:01 PM

Hey Purp,
Just straight on top of MDF. The tape keeps it from shifting.
I used glue from, and also their foam roller to spread it. Really easy.

Here it is in my press with a caul on top, but just using clamps would work as well.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5123 days

#8 posted 12-17-2013 02:15 PM

Hey Mike and KDC,
The maple is quarter sawn maple veneer so it does not have any swirls in the grain. I really like it. I used it to make the panels for my bathroom cabinets. The main problem is that it only comes like boards – 5 to 8 inches wide.

These guys are a great source of veneer. Really helpful family kind of place. And they charge a flat rate of $10 for shipping smallish orders – like under a couple hundred board feet.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5460 days

#9 posted 12-17-2013 02:31 PM

Very nice, Steve. I use the same technique with solid wood, but I think I’m way too ham-handed to pull it off with veneer.

By the way, what’s the difference between a checkers board and a chess board???

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5123 days

#10 posted 12-17-2013 02:43 PM

Hey Charlie,
I don’t think there is a difference between checkers and chess boards. The request was for a checkers board though, so that is what I made.

Lots of trouble with solid wood boards like this. If you do edge grain like this one, you are gluing endgrain to endgrain. And then you also have wood movement. You could do it with the endgrain pointing up, but then you have a cutting board. Cutting boards remain flat and don’t have much movement because they are constantly oiled. But an oiled checkers board is kind of weird – I think. But what do I know?

I guess you could build it with individual 1/4” thick squares glued to a substrate, but then you just have really thick veneer.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4108 days

#11 posted 12-17-2013 03:01 PM

Steve, that looks very nice and you did a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4890 days

#12 posted 12-17-2013 03:05 PM

very cool! need to make one of those at some point.

by the way – the difference between a chess board and checkers board is that “chess board” uses less characters to spell out ;)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 3114 days

#13 posted 12-17-2013 03:20 PM

Putting the finishing touches on one made from 1/2 inch maple and walnut – not really concerned about movement, as many others have made them the same way.

-- Dave K.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26783 posts in 4347 days

#14 posted 12-17-2013 03:40 PM

Beautiful board, Steve. As perfect as I’ve ever seen. Nice choice of veneers!!.............Merry Christmas, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5123 days

#15 posted 12-17-2013 04:07 PM

Nice to know. I guess I have seen solid wood ones on LJs. I really don’t know much, but Fine Woodworking recommended veneer so that is what I went with. It was nice and quiet to work with too. And fast, basically built in an afternoon.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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