Introduction: Live Edge Chessboard

In this instructable you will need a bit of patience and skill to create, which I had none of at the time this was made. I have always wanted to build my own chessboard, for as long as I can remember. I remember growing up with a beautiful chessboard that my mother and I used play on, it had this great dark and light wood inlay around the board with small flowers throughout, it was a beautiful piece of craftsman ship. Sadly through out the years and many moves, it was lost on the way. So with a wood shop of my own and plenty of tools I decided to give it a shot and make something that my kids could hopefully love and enjoy as much as i did as a kid.

In the following steps i will show how I created this chessboard


- router ( 1/2" collett)
- 1/2" straight router bit
- router sled w/guide
- chisels
- sand paper (40 to 4000)
- table saw
- band saw
- belt sander
- orbital sander
- titebond 3 wood glue (optional choice any wood glue would do, personal choice here.
- polyurethane
- slab if cherry
- piece of blood wood
- ambrosia maple
- inlay strips

Step 1: Design

So I wanted to make a board with a lot of character. It just so happened, that when my grandfather passed he left me his wood collection and many tools, and in this wood collection this small slab of what I am calling cherry, as I do not have any idea of what it actually is, but sure looks like cherry, anyway. I thought this would be a great project for this piece. Haveing some sentimental value I was a little nervous about cutting into this. So I searched and searched for information on making chess boards and what the best design was for my needs.i chose the tournament size so I could get the largest peices for the size. I got this information from The United States Chess Federation (USCF), which states that square size should be anywhere from 2 inches to 2.5 inches, while the king's height should be 3.375 inches to 4.5 inches. The standard USCF tournament set has 2.25 inch squares and a king's height of 3.75 inches.

Step 2: Route

After some carefully lay out and measuring, at least 100 times. I set up my router and sled and made small passes first to mark out the board. Slowly I made deeper cuts until I was at my desired depth. With a mallet and chisel i carefully squared of the edges, that my router make round.

Step 3: Layout Tiles

So for this board I made my tiles 2 inches, I figured this would make the layout easier and I didn't have to do much math to figure it out. Still it took a bit to make everything nice and square to be able to fit all 64 tiles.

Step 4: Cut and Layout Tiles

For the tiles I bout 2 different turning blanks, which made squaring of the the blanks a lot easier. Using a jointer I squared of the blanks. Using my table saw I cut the blank into 1/2" slices. So cutting 32 of each. After cutting I first layed everything out on the board, befor the big glue up.

Step 5: Glue

Using titebond 3 wood glue, I glued up every piece and set them in the board. ( I didn't take a picture of the clamping of the squares but I took a piece of plywood and one on the bottom and clamped together to put pressure on the peices.)

Step 6: Sand Away

Using a belt sander with 40 grit paper, I knocked down any high spots on the peices. Progressing form 60 to 800 grit I used my orbital sander to smooth everything out.

Step 7: Inlay

So I finished the board with a wipe on poly and I just thought it needed some thing more. So i sanded of my finish and found these really nice inlay strips at my local rockler. Using my router with a ¼inch straight bit and a guide I routed an area for the inlays strip. Using some glue and some weights to hold down the strip, the inlays were set.

Step 8: Finish

After the glue dried, lightly sand the board and prep for the polyurethane. Using a 2000 grit paper I sanded every thing again, cleaned off and applied my first coat of wipe on polyurethane. Sanded with 2000 grit to 4000 and applied poly again. I did this to build up the coat. I did this 3 times to get to my desired coat. Once done and dried you are all set to play.

Future projects for the chessboard, make a set of legs for it and then it will be a table. And to also make a set of chess peices. For now we have just been playing on the table with some older chess peices that are a little small for the size, but the kids are having fun with anyways.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps some in their journey in chessboard making.

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