Introduction: Chess Table "Instruc-table"

Chess tables are fascinating but expensive objects.
I wanted to build such a table, with tournament proportions, which could alternatively be used as a coffee table too.
In addition, I didn't want to spend too much time on it, and had no woodworking tools with me at the time !

So I started looking for reusable materials, and ended up with this little table.
Here is how it was done ...

PS: English is not my mother tongue, so I apologize if things are not always clear.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

- A sturdy cardboard square box (about 60cm width , 20cm height).
Mine came from a famous Swedish furniture shop :p

- Thick (0.5mm) colored construction paper for the chessboard. You will obviously need two colors.
You should have enough paper to cut 32 (5cm x 5cm) squares of each color.
I found sheets of white and black paper in a hobby shop

- A square (40cm) plexiglas sheet.
I found mine (and had it cut to size) in a poster shop.

- A square (40cm) of thin cardboard
Choose the cardboard so that its thickness added to the plexiglas thickness is inferior to the box's thickness.

- PVA glue

- Newspapers

- Black paint

- Lacker

I don't have the prices for the materials, but none of them are really expensive.

Step 2: Shaping the Table

In this step, you will define the table's definitive shape and sturdiness.

You don't have to follow the exact same steps as I did, just make sure the result looks nice to you, and is sturdy enough.

For my table, I:
- Opened the box, which consisted in two halves: a cover (upper part) and the lower part

- Turned upside down the lower part, and tucked it in the upper part (see pictures)

- Traced on each side of the table the shape I wanted to remove.
The remaining cardboard (the table's legs) should be large enough, since it will support the whole structure.

- Cut out the shapes with an X-Acto knife or similar cutting tool.
Keep in mind that you have two layers of cardboard to cut through (upper and lower part of the box). If it's too difficult, you can cut each half of the box separately.

Note: If the two halves don't align very well, don't worry, this can be corrected in the following steps.
The important thing is that once the shapes cut out, your table remains stable, and is horizontal.
If it isn't adjust the appropriate feet.

Step 3: Building the Board

This is pretty straightforward.

You should now have your table ready.
We're going to build the chessboard

- First trace on the table top a 40 cm square. It should be centered

- Then cut out the corresponding square, but BE CAREFUL only to cut out the first layer of cardboard.
Remember how we tucked the lower part of the box into the upper part ? Once you have cut out the square of the upper part, you should be able to see the lower part below (sorry there is no photo of this step, but this will be clearer later on)

- Use the thin cardboard square and check that it fits nicely in the table.
If it doesn't, adjust the square you just cut in the table, not the thin one (which dimensions must remain 40x40 cm)
At the same time, make sure the plexiglas sheet fits nicely in the table top.

- Paste the squares on the thin cardboard square, chessboard style

- Leave your chessboard aside, we won't need it until the last step

Note: The dimensions of the square you cut in the table top can very slightly exceed the chessboard and plexiglas sheet dimensions.
This depends on the paint and lacker thickness you're going to use.
If you use a thick paint, then your table top hole should be a little larger than the plexiglas.
As a rule of thumb, your table top hole should be 0.5 cm larger than the plexiglas sheet (meaning it's a 40.5 x 40.5 cm hole)

Step 4: Covering the Table Body

This step is a little messy ... you should protect your floor before starting this.
In addition, it requires some drying, so make sure no pets or children are going to be around the drying table. Avoiding dusty environment is a good idea too !

- Prepare the table. If the cardboard is warped or teared, the feet are not aligned or there is a gap between the layers of cardboard, now is the time to fix it. User adhesive tape, glue, whatever method necessary.

- Cut the newspapers into strips (roughly 5cm wide). You are going to need a good quantity of those.
Start with one newspaper, cut more strips on the go if needed.

- Dilute the PVA glue with some water. The texture should be that of liquid yogurt.

- Dip the strips (one at a time) into the water/glue, remove excess glue from the paper, and apply it on the table.
Multiple layers are welcome. I personally used two layers of paper on the entire table.
Only apply a layer on a dry surface.

- When everything is dry, use sand paper to remove apparent creases.
Depending on the desired final result, your sanding technique may vary.
Keep in mind that this is paper and cardboard, so don't overdo it ! ;)

This step might need several hours to complete, and the final result is a table completely covered in paper.
The drying PVA should have given extra strength to the table too.

Step 5: Paint and Finish

Another lengthy step, but much easier than the previous one

- Apply paint to the whole table (the part that will receive the chessboard can be omitted)

- Depending on your decorating tastes, lacker can also be used.
Make sure you test the lacker on a hidden part of the table (the underside for instance) to make sure this is really the finish you want.
The lacker not only adds additional shine, but protects the paint from liquids (remember this is also going to be a coffee table)

After much painting and drying, the table is nearly ready !

Step 6: Finishing the Table

This is a much anticipated moment after all those hours of crafting !

- Glue your chessboard on the table top

- Insert the plexiglas sheet on top of the chessboard

- If you're really concerned about liquids, you could use a silicon-based paste to seal the junction between the plexiglas and the table
I didn't do it, the plexiglas fit tightly in the hole.

- I put some of those felt tabs (I don't know the exact term) beneath the table feet, so that it stays silent when slided on the floor.

You're done !