Picture of Wood Intarsia Chess-board
intarsia chess board.jpg
I really enjoyed making the last chessboard and I wanted to make another one.
I didn't want to make the same type board so I started thinking of a different way to make it.
I have been wanting to try my hand in Intarsia for some time now, so I decided I wanted this board to be made in this method. Intarsia usually forms a picture using diff color woods, rocks, or yarn/thread depending on what you are working with. This chessboard is simple squares (lots of them) glued individually to a backer-board. I then framed with solid wood edging.
The square tiles are made from Maple and Cherry individually cut, rounded over with a router, sanded by hand, buffed (Tripoli only) and finally glued into place on a 1/4" backer-board (I recommend 1/2"). A lot of people would recommend using hardboard or MDF due to its flatness, but I don't like the fact that it will swell if it has gotten wet, so I used 1/4" birch ply-wood doubled-up.

I really really really want a 3D Printer so I included a 3d model for the 3D printing contest. please throw me a vote.
Sketch-up plans here

Step 1: Gather your lumber

Picture of Gather your lumber
Intarsia_chess 011.jpg
Intarsia_chess 013.jpg
Checker/Chess boards consist of 64 total tiles on the playing field. That's 8 rows and 8 columns, 32 tiles of each color.
I used 1/2" thick cherry and Maple.
So, to break it down, you need to have 1 board of each color 1.5" X 53".
***Note, If you are going to try this checkerboard with larger squares, when figuring your lumber needs, take into account the kerf of your saw-blade. Mine is 1/8". If you need to cut 32 squares, each cut will eat away 1/8 off of your length. So include your kerf in the length of the board you are using. There are 32 cuts, that means that by the time you get to the last tile, your saw-blade will have eaten away 4" worth of the board.***
I started by ripping the boards into finished widths of 1.5".
Moving on...
GrantT24 months ago

Did you ever make the pieces for the board or no?

bganev779 months ago

Super stylish. Fantastic work and design.

Bill Boone9 months ago
Great work. I don't have the room or table saw so limited on the board.
I do intarsia though and the above image of Nautical Chess pieces patterns by JE or JPPlans.com.
Use scroll saw making compound cuts.
michaelgc1 year ago

Beautiful chess board! Good Work

SlickSqueegie (author)  michaelgc1 year ago


longwinters2 years ago
Just wondering why did you not round the edges before you cross cut the tiles?
Then you would just need to round the cross cut side
Those round edges do produce a far superior look over flat stock lay ups
Great job
SlickSqueegie (author)  longwinters1 year ago
Thanks, It's just the way I did it I guess... I wanted all round-overs exactly the same so I figured I should do all sides of the tiles at the same time withe the exact same setup.

super excellent project... i just wish you had a clamp/jig whilst rounding over all those edges.

Centure1 year ago

Nice one, my chess-mad-friend's birthday is coming up soon and this would be the perfect gift. I just need the pieces :D

Congratulations!!! You won the first prize. :)
SlickSqueegie (author)  Tarun Upadhyaya2 years ago
I must have missed this one. Thank you very much.
Kiteman2 years ago
Oh, that's lovely - I can't wait to see what pieces you make to go on it!
SlickSqueegie (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
Thank you Kiteman!
That task is proving to be more challenging than I had thought. But they are in process.
Looking forward to it!
M.Hawse2 years ago
Absolutely amazing. Excellent work.
SlickSqueegie (author)  M.Hawse2 years ago
Thank you.
shazni2 years ago
This is beautiful.. I simply love the colors of wood.
You are very talented ... Can't wait to see more :-)
SlickSqueegie (author)  shazni2 years ago
Thank you so much! :)
SlickSqueegie (author) 2 years ago
Thank you. Matching the grain was simple. Just keep the tiles in order after you cut them all, then number the bottoms.
mortero2 years ago
A master piece, congratulations.
SlickSqueegie (author)  mortero2 years ago
Thank you so much!
thegrendel2 years ago
Nicely done. Consider doing a go board next.
SlickSqueegie (author)  thegrendel2 years ago
LOL that would be quite the challenge!
saosport2 years ago
THis i s beautiful. Well done.
SlickSqueegie (author)  saosport2 years ago
Thanks very much!
lsippell2 years ago
This chess board is a work of art, but the way you are routing the round over on the squares is just asking for maiming your fingers! Use a rubber bottomed push block and that way if something slips it's not your fingers that get caught on the bit.

But again, it's beautiful and I am going to make one.
SlickSqueegie (author)  lsippell2 years ago
I was wondering when the safety squad would show up :) You are right, It is not safe to do it this way. Common sense is the best safety feature in any shop.
SlickSqueegie (author) 2 years ago
Thanks eldrake. I numbered them to keep the grain running the same. If you notice, each tile's grain is matched with the next tile of the same color.
I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by "Also, if you cut the 1.5" strips with the grain running across the strips (instead of length-wise),"
I don't know of any lumberyard that will sell a length of wood 53" long with the grain running crosswise. you could essentially run a full length strip through the round-over and get 2 sides done. But this doesn't help with tear-out when going across the grain. in all honesty, it only took about 20 - 30 minutes to round-over all edges. The sanding and buffing is what ate a lot of time...
paryl2 years ago
Really great job. I never would have guessed how nice a bevel on all of the squares would look... this is truly gorgeous.
SlickSqueegie (author)  paryl2 years ago
Thanks Paryl. I wasn't sure how it would turn out either but decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I am really happy with the results. And this is probably the best finishing job I have ever done. The finish is breathtaking when you see it in person. I was showing it to a neighbor and he asked me if the tiles were plastic? lol
SlickSqueegie (author)  Wroger-Wroger2 years ago
Thanks Wroger
BigMrTree2 years ago
What a great looking chessboard!! You are a fine craftsman with great attention to detail, thanks for sharing your work!!
SlickSqueegie (author)  BigMrTree2 years ago
Thank you very much. I really love making this stuff... Sharing it is a bonus. Thank you again for such a great compliment!
gcanders2 years ago
Beautiful! I love bloodwood, and it works so well in your project. I have only have only made chessboards using the same design I used in making end-grain cutting boards, but this is something I really want to try, and will do so. Thank for posting it.
SlickSqueegie (author)  gcanders2 years ago
You are very welcome. It's my pleasure to share. Thank you for the great compliment. :)
dcthelaw2 years ago
You should also make the pieces. That way it's a full board.
SlickSqueegie (author)  dcthelaw2 years ago
That is in process right now! :)
Love it
SlickSqueegie (author)  redfoxtrystman2 years ago