Introduction: Making a Chessboard

About: Hey, I'm Adam. A web developer by day, I make things out of salvaged wood, steel, and other goodness whenever I can!

After making a Chess pieces I needed to make the board. Luckily there are very few differences between making a chessboard and a cutting board, with the exception of the square size.

The techniques are basically the same.


  • Maple Wood
  • Walnut Wood
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps
  • Thickness Planer
  • Table Saw
  • 80 Tooth crosscut blade
  • Sand Paper
  • Tung oil or any finish if your choice
  • Square
  • Ruler

Step 1: Sizing the Board

In terms of sizing the chessboard, I went with a thickness that just felt right to me, I did, however, research the square size and learned that the chess pieces needed to be 75-80% of the surface so working backward I ended up with squares that were 30mm meaning that my chess pieces were around 20mm.

Note: During this process you will make multiple passes through the thickness planer so give yourself a bit of extra room.

Step 2: Building the Board - Part 1

Once you have determined the size of your squares, cut about 5 strips of each wood species, this will give you extras allowing you to choose the best matching pieces.

I used Walnut and Maple for my board but you can use any two contrasting colors.

Once you have cut your strips, try to avoid moving the fence on your table saw since you will need to come back later to cut strips again.

Because my squares are 30mm I needed to make sure that my 5 strips are longer than 240mm, so I went for around 300mm.

once all the strips are cut, lay them flat and position them in the order that you want to use them, alternating between Maple and Walnut.

Before you glue the strips together, you should have 4 Maple and 4 Walnut strips that are alternating. Glue them together making sure to clean any squeeze out.

Make sure to use plenty of clamps, as any gaps in the glue up will show on your final board but you don't need to crush them.

Step 3: Building the Board - Part 2

Once the glue is dry, run the board through the thickness planer to clean up any remaining glue and level the board off again.

Now to cut some more strips! This time we will be cutting across grain resulting in strips with alternating colored squares.

One more glue-up, this time it is very, very important to pay close attention that your squares are lining up and that the board is as flat as possible

Once the glue is dry, you can choose to do a light pass in the thickness planer once again or sand it. If you choose to make another pass through the thickness planer be very light and go with the grain to avoid tearout.

Step 4: Board Setup

On a correct setup board, the square in the lower right-hand corner is always white ( Maple ), making the queen's position from white's perspective (on her own color) fourth from the left. I was unaware of this while I set up the shots but was pointed out to me in a Reddit post.

I think I had the board upside down ๐Ÿ˜

This was really fun and actually a very simple project to make. One thing I wish that I had added is a border around the board. I knew that I wanted a bevel but my table saw canโ€™t cut deep enough to get the results that I want.

Step 5: What Next?

If you enjoyed building the board, why not have a look at how to make the chess pieces?

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