Introduction: 3D Chess Board

A multiple level 3D chess board. Made of walnut, each block is at a different height to add a fun and artistic factor to the classic game of chess. With a proper workshop and a few pieces of walnut lumber, you can build your own 3D chess board in less than a week. This craft is both appealing to the eye and also a great way to test your skills of chess in a whole different way.

Step 1: Finding a Design

The process of actually deciding which style of chess board was hard. I wanted to make it very appealing to the eye, something that someone would be interested in with the first look at the board. But at the same time, not make it too confusing to play the classic game of chess on. So I went with the multiple level block design to give the board a 3D look that would give it immediate attraction. The only inspiration I had was from looking through different designs of cool chess boards online and finding a design that fitted my expectations of the project.

Step 2: Drawing Out the Plans and Materials Needed

The plans are in the figure above. Nick Fairishon, Liam Gorman, and myself all contributed in making the plans and the beginning stages of the project. We had to make the plans simple enough to be able to make the chess board in a short amount of time. The numbers in each block show the height (in inches) that each block of walnut will be. In between each level, there is a 1 inch difference. These plans helped a lot for organization and assembling all the blocks after each was cut down to size.

Materials Needed:

  • Proper workshop w/ all the necessary tools and machines
  • Walnut lumber
  • Wood Glue
  • Bar clamps
  • C clamps
  • Blowtorch
  • Protective fire proof gloves

Step 3: Preparing and Cutting Each Block


  • Obtain walnut lumber
  • plain and cut each piece down to 3/4"
  • Cut 3/4" strips
  • Glue two pieces together, making it 1-1/2" in diameter
  • After it drys (typically after 24 hours), cut each strip down to the size according to the plans

Step 4: Assembling and Gluing

After all the cutting, I was able to place each piece in there correct places according to the design and the figure above.

Step 5: Burning and Final Gluing

Taking every other block, I used a blowtorch to burn the top. This would be the pattern for a typical chess board. After that I glued everything together to create the final product in the process.


Leathaldose (author)2016-03-10

that chess board would frustrate the hell out of me.

davemanthing (author)Leathaldose2016-11-16

Actually it isn't that hard. at first i thought it would be too, but once i made it, i thought it looked cool with a little amount of work

AnithaT2 (author)davemanthing2017-01-16

Hello.May I know, how did you get the 3d chess board or did you make it?

Johnahenry made it! (author)2016-12-15

Thanks for the inspiration. I gave it my own twist once I got the pieces cut. Thought a gap between the pieces would be cool. I used a light and dark stain and built it on it's own table. To finish it off I made my own chess pieces out of nuts and bolts. Took about 3 months to get it perfect. Played it with my son and it was so much fun.

Woodart999 (author)2016-11-13

what size chess pieces work best . height ?

bsojoe (author)2016-08-15

Made mine from basswood. Decided to paint it and used 2x2 black and white tiles. Not done yet..

Christy23 made it! (author)2016-07-23

Made mine from red louro wood!

JakeS21 made it! (author)2016-07-07

A friend of mine asked me to make one for his son, and showed me a picture of your work to give me an understanding.

It was my understanding that he was going to use figurines (ala gaming) or smaller, specialty chess pieces so I used a height difference of 1/2" inch.

Once assembled, I sprayed on five (5) light coats of Spar Urethane. I used this because in addition to protection, this has a tendency to 'yellow' things. So it gave the white color more of an ivory look.

Here are more pics on how it was assembled...

Mehran52b (author)2016-06-30


H' like to know the height of chess board,the highest bar?


DIY B (author)2016-04-04


GWRains (author)2016-03-24

I'm yet to sand and glue it up, but here's my version! Made from walnut and elm!

2016, 14:57.jpg2016, 14:57.jpg
AaronC105 made it! (author)2016-03-19

Made one using Chengal batten scraps.

2016-03-11 14.42.41.jpg
techucation made it! (author)2016-03-13

I had a good time with this project. Thanks for the instructions.

Lovetra (author)2016-03-09

I am sending this to my Brother---- He is recovering from amputation of his right leg and has turned to his wood lathe for mental therapy and getting around in his electrical wheel-chair. He also plays and collects interesting/unusual chess boards and has made a couple of them. This will be good to set his teeth into.

jeanniel1 (author)2016-03-08

Since I like to play with fire, maybe you can blow torch the ones that are to be black, and then glue. Though the idea of staining is just as good, or better yet, but two different kinds of woods that have contrast.

the norm (author)2016-03-08

I fixed your picture so White is Right.

3D Chess Board2.jpg
trepisky (author)2016-03-08

White queen belongs on a white field!!! Kasparov would not be able to play this (not because of that white queen)...

MeEdd2121 (author)2016-03-08

I was not clear on what "light to right" means. The near right corner for each player needs to be the lighter color used. In other words the corner to your right is always the lighter color.

MeEdd2121 (author)2016-03-08

Several years ago I made a chess board that hangs on the wall. Not being a chess player I made the same mistake you made. Light to right is the proper way to layout a chess board. I had every chess player who looked to buy the board tell me it was wrong. Just thought you would want to know.

StevenW80 (author)2016-03-08

The only thing I would do different is put the peak/high points, in the center. The way it currently is designed, you must be sitting above the board to have a good vantage point. If the low points were on the edges, you would not have to be above the board

Platypuses13 (author)2016-03-08

cmon man. You picture set up the pieces wrong. Queen on her color.

Fusepopper (author)2016-03-08

Technically I'd say it's more of a "Topographic Chess Board" - but I love it...!!! How much does it weigh...?

Three dimensional chess, at least from Star Trek, is a kind of chess played on three levels at the same time (pic) - Maybe you could make another dimension with magnetized pieces and play up from the bottom as well...??? You'd have to suspend it on gimbals like an old globe. Hmmm. I need more wood... Great work!

ColtonW3 (author)2016-01-28

what is the height difference in block levels and dimensions?

reya919 made it! (author)2016-01-10

This is a very cool instructable ! I've just finish my own chessboard yesterday and I like it so much ! I just use a different technic for the black square, insteed of burning the wood I die it with Chinese ink and then I apply a varnish on all chessboard.

Thank you for this amazing instructable :)

reya919 made it! (author)2016-01-10

This is a very cool instructable ! I've just finish my own chessboard yesterday and I like it so much ! I just use a different technic for the black square, insteed of burning the wood I die it with Chinese ink and then I apply a varnish on all chessboard.

Thank you for this amazing instructable :)

Tupulov (author)2015-12-29

Now chess is cool!

DanielBanas (author)2015-09-23

I <3 chess so much thank you for this cool stuff

liamgorman97 (author)2015-06-01

Very Cool! I think I am going to make one to play with my chess friends!

dragon9246 (author)liamgorman972015-09-22

Why thank you kind sir. I am very happy that you will share your love for chess with friends. The game of chess originated back in the day, and it has evolved to what I made here. Bravo to you for your love for chess! Chess is love, chess is life

geekrex (author)2015-07-31

Needs some 3d character. Will be superb then

leonaward (author)2015-07-14

Thanku for this awesome idea and easy to fallow instructions ! PLEZ know that this amazing chessboard will bring joy to very many people ! Thanku!

kylegilbert (author)2015-06-28

This is such a cool chess board. Really nice work and great instructions!

Allan Kruelle (author)2015-06-08

Great idea. MineCraft chess pieces could be interesting.

KraftingKids (author)2015-06-07

I will be making one now!

rramos1 (author)2015-06-07

This is really cool, I like it !

RussellBishop (author)2015-06-06

This is a fantastic project, although I cant help but notice you've painted the squares on incorrectly, as white must be in the right hand corner. Playing at 90degrees probably wasn't your intention!

rbookser (author)2015-06-02

Very distinctive! Made many chessboards but never one like this!

If you do another try using dark walnut (like you have for this one) or even a deep red cherry or mahogany wood for the black squares and white ash or aspen or similarly white/pale colored wood for the white ones. Then you won't need to stain it and just clear-coat the whole thing and you still have a distinctive difference between white and black squares (without the smudgey stains).

xxlauraxx (author)rbookser2015-06-03

I love this idea. My dad made a chess board that way, with dark and light woods to define the black and white squares. It was our living room coffee table, growing up.

I think the two-tones of wood would look amazing in this 3 dimensional board.

nodcah (author)2015-06-03

Really awesome design!! It's probably pretty fun to play on =D

alba100 (author)2015-06-03

Wonderful concept, very traditional battle tactics with both sides on the high ground....who will charge....usually the side on the high ground maybe you want to be black.

Another interesting concept would be to put the high ground in the centre, and have both armies fight over it, it certainly happened many times in real wars.

Fantastic coffee table piece.

spylock (author)2015-06-02

Love the design,Im gonna book mark this and do it in the next week or so.,very good job

Trevor54 (author)2015-06-02

Fascinating. Some time ago, I came across this . I've tried to contact the designer, but it's no longer live, and I haven't been able to find his new address.

smoss20 (author)2015-06-02

An alternative approach would be to put the Center pieces highest an decending from there to illustrate the strategic value for each square - Might help new players. Looks realy cool too.

3dcats (author)2015-06-01

Brilliant! My first thought was - I LOVE THAT, and my second was - heh - you could make it as two halves so one could sit on top of the other then with the interlocked pieces holding it all together it's also a wee side table... (we say "wee" in Scotland)

rbookser (author)3dcats2015-06-02

You couldn't do this design as halves but you could do it as quarters - each quarter of the board being a free standing separate piece. Then 2 of the quarters would be able to stack upside down on the the other two.

DIY KING 00 (author)2015-06-02

This is so cool and realistic.

alcurb (author)2015-06-02

Now THAT'S a 3D chess I can play! Beautiful piece.

UrJac (author)2015-06-02

That looks very cool. Great idea and great project.

truliwicked (author)2015-06-02

Not that I know how to play chess...but the board is AWESOME!!

tgray10 (author)2015-06-02

How cool is that!

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