Introduction: Garden Chess Board

Picture of Garden Chess Board

I wanted to teach my kiddos to play chess, and we had an empty corner in our small garden.

We also wanted them to spend as much time outside as possible. Therefore a large chess board outside seemed to be a good idea.

The whole thing is 1m x 1m big (3.28 feet x 3.28 feet) and is made from concrete pavement blocks.

Time estimate: 8 work hours, this is a one day/weekend project.

Cost estimate: ~40$

It is a simple project requiring only basic tools and a bit of patience.

Step 1: Materials Used

Picture of Materials Used

Materials used:

1x a bag of cement (20 kilos) for making concrete - used only 1/4th of the bag though.

4x concrete pavement side blocks, 1 meter length each.

64 + 6 concrete paving blocks (6 extra just to be sure)

1 x bag of granite gravel.

Sand came free.

Tools used:


Spirit level

A piece of wood for compacting soil/sand.

Couple of buckets

A wheelbarrow

Step 2: Making of the Chess Board

Picture of Making of the Chess Board

Step 1: Preparations

We cleared the area of small pebbles and laid a plastic cloth of digged dirt.

Got everything we neede, prepared the dry cement mix (1 part cement, 4.5 parts sand)

Step 2: The hole

Dig a hole in the ground :)Keep it square and a bit larger than an actual board size.

Once you're done, grab a heavy blunt thing and compact the soil below.

Sink in the side slabs and check that they are level.

Once all 4 sides are in place and level, add some gravel on the bottom for better drainage. Compact it again.

Step 3: Fill the hole up

Fill the hole with sand in thin layers. Re-compact the sand after every inch or so.

Check the height using an actual brick.

I found it was good to water the sand a little bit in the process.

Step 3: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

At the end, once the ground is nice and level, lay the bricks one by one.

Start with a black one at the bottom left corner.

I used a small wooden brick to gently tap the concrete bricks in place.

At the end there was a tiny 0.5 inch gap on one side, so I filled it with left over concrete.

For the finishing, we added some fine sand which filled all the tiny gaps.

We also painted the black tiles some more so they are more visible.

I'll update this instructable with my play pieces later on.

Step 4: Checkers Play Pieces

Picture of Checkers Play Pieces

Just finished and painted play pieces for checkers. Chess pieces in the making.

3 inches x 3 inches each, corners removed. Pine wood, 1 inch thick.


Marsh made it! (author)2014-08-03

Thanks for posting this. I decided to pour concrete around the perimeter as it only took one bag. It also got me to finally make that circle cutting jig for my table saw. I even had red and black paint on the shelf for the checkers.

skiedra (author)Marsh2014-08-03

Marsh, NIIICE!! Well done!
I also poured some concrete on the outer sides.
Hope you will enjoy your board for days to come :)

Marsh (author)skiedra2015-08-18

Now the wife wants Backgammon!

ICanTryAgain (author)Marsh2014-08-04


ddj0195 (author)2015-04-12

Looking forward to building this for our grandchildren. Have you completed your chess pieces? Would love to see your chosen style and construction method.

sharing_s_caring (author)2014-09-20

Personally, I like the black and white pieces. Would love to do this in tile for a living room table and red wouldn't fit my color scheme. PS: the colors fit the chess color theme and your sets will match. Have you considered an outdoor storage "box" to hold the pieces? I'd want one that could double as a seat.

katelyn3565 (author)2014-09-12

Maybe try small tiles instead of brick pavers

northcalgreens (author)2014-07-24

Avon chess pieces can be found at yard sales or even whole sets on ebay

jkitchin (author)northcalgreens2014-08-06

Good place to pick up a Chess set

skiedra (author)jkitchin2014-08-06

jkitchin - that is one good site! I'm tempted to buy some of their plastic ones. Although shipping and customs costs cools me off a bit.

skiedra (author)northcalgreens2014-07-24

thanks for pointing in the right direction - never knew such things existed at all.

Marsh (author)2014-07-31

Checkers ready for paint. I'm really looking forward to your chess pieces.

skiedra (author)Marsh2014-08-04

These look perfectly suitable. So... who's winning?

ICanTryAgain (author)2014-08-04

awesome idea. how big are the bricks for the checkerboard. where can u get these..maybe online somewhere?

skiedra (author)ICanTryAgain2014-08-04


These are very typical paving bricks. Paving bricks usualy come in rectangular or square shape. Some have quite sharp top corners, mine are quite rounded.

The size of my bricks were 118mm x 118mm (4.64 inches)

I'd suggest trying local building materials store. Online is possible, but S&H shoulf be enourmous due to weight

Marsh (author)2014-07-28

Here's that circle cutting jig I mentioned before. Since I'm going to build this, I figured I better cut some checkers out.

skiedra (author)Marsh2014-07-28

Thanks for the link :)

I guess I'm just too lazy to do it the jiged way ;)

Marsh (author)skiedra2014-07-29

Never too late to start.
BTW, the grey pavers have been discontinued in my area. The local Home Depot has 22 of them. I drove to every Home Depot in the county yesterday trying to scrounge up ten more. No luck.

ICanTryAgain (author)Marsh2014-08-04

hi marsh . what did you use for the bricks? are they actual bricks turned the long way? sorry fro my assuming..

Marsh (author)ICanTryAgain2014-08-04

They're actual 6x6x2 pavers. Look for a brick yard in your area.

skiedra (author)Marsh2014-07-29

Marsh, you are trying too hard :D

I got me some alkyd enamel paint - nice bright colors with very good resistance to elements - and painted the darker ones extra black. I bet the same can be done with white (or red) as well.

My only advice would paint the bricks before assembly. Makes it much easier.

Marsh (author)skiedra2014-07-29

Here's the thing about painting concrete. If you do it once, you'll have to do it over and over. I found another supplier today. I'll post my rendition of the project in a few days.

skiedra (author)Marsh2014-07-29

Not sure, but the paint I used are weeeird - three years in the elements - no/very little change whatsoever. The time will show.

sridhar_rajagopal (author)2014-07-23

Lovely idea!!

Thanks, sridhar.

jrbuilta (author)2014-07-25

Cool Build. Questions:

1.What size are the individual squares.

2. Where did you get them, and the side slabs?

skiedra (author)jrbuilta2014-07-25

Individual squares are 118mm x 118mm
I got everything at a local concrete store. They produce pavement pieces, concrete planting pots, etc. Here, in eastern Europe, it's very common and available at most gardening and home centers

Marsh (author)2014-07-24

I may make this tonight! BTW, Checkers are Black & Red. There's a way to cut a perfect circle on a table saw too.

munkey01 (author)2014-07-23

This is such a fun idea! Do you have thoughts on what you will be using for play pieces yet?

skiedra (author)munkey012014-07-23

Thanks, Munkey. I have the checker pieces made and will upload their photos asap.

slaveboy2000 (author)skiedra2014-07-23

I think that you should use potted flowers for the pieces

skiedra (author)slaveboy20002014-07-24

That is a great idea! Now I only need 24 pots :)

About This Instructable




Bio: A simple geek with handful ideas and not enough time to make them all happen. So, I'm battling one idea at a time :)
More by skiedra:Garden patio swing bed - when a simple hammock just won't do!Pussy palace: extreme birdhouse conversionA sword and a shield for the knight in you :)
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