Introduction: Outdoor Checkers/Chess Table

Hi, have I got a fun instructable for your! Today We are making an outdoor checkers/chess table with an old table bottom we found on the side of the road and some plywood leftover from a flooring project.

Note: After the table is finished you can either use existing checker pieces or make your own with a few simple tools.


Old table base

Scrap plywood big enough for your needs

Tape measure



Pencil and/or marker

1 finishing nail


Level (optional)

Jig saw

Hand sander

Hole saw (if making your own checkers)


Painters tape

Outdoor Paint (I used red, black, and white for the table and black, white, gold, and silver for the checkers)


Step 1: Measure the Base - Measure the Wood

The base we had, had a lower ring below the top, so I decided to make a shelf to store a basket for the checker pieces in, under the table when it was finished. Since I needed a lower disk to sit on the ring and a much larger disk for the game table top, I took two measurements.

For the lower disk/shelf I took the measurement then ended up cutting it slightly smaller because of the width of the scrap piece of wood I had to use for it.

For the table top I measured the width between the two hardware attachment sites to get the barest minimum size I needed. The scrap piece I had for the top was large enough to make the top a few inches bigger all the way around.

Step 2: Draw Your Disk/Circle With a Compass

To use the compass to draw your disk, first make sure you have a pencil, or lead (depending on the type of compass you have) inserted.

Next, divide the total width of your disk in half to get the radius and this is what you need to set your compass to.

Then, place and hold the point of the compass where you want the center of your disk to be and holding it steady, turn the pencil end of the compass all the way around to completely mark your circle.

Note: I used this method for the smaller disk

Step 3: Draw Your Disk/Circle With a Piece of Twine and a Marker

To use this method, after you have determined your total desired width for your disk, divide that measurement in half to determine you radius.

Once you have your radius, find your center and tap a finishing nail into the wood just enough to hold a little tension.

Tie one end of your string to the nail.

Then, measure out the length of your radius and tie the other end to your marker or pencil. I used a marker because the rough surface of the plywood kept breaking my lead.

Once both ends are securely tied, keep slight tension and holding the marker upright, draw your circle.

Note: I used this method for the table top, because my compass did not open large enough for my radius. Also, this method works well enough, but since hands are not always consistently, you circle may have a imperfections in it. It is okay.

Step 4: Cut Out Your Disk(s)

Use your jig saw to cut out your disk or disks, depending on your particular table base and preference.

As you can see, I used two different jig saws. The tension screws on my old one just would not hold the blade in place, so I had to swap out. If you have one that works, that is all you need. :)

After you cut your disks, check your fit. There should not be a problem as long as your measurements and math are correct.

REMEMBER: Measure twice. Cut once. You can always cut off a little more, but you cannot UN-cut something.

Step 5: Cut Your Checkers

If you are using existing game pieces, this step can be skipped over.

If you are making your own checkers pieces, your options are only as limited as your imagination and resources. You could paint stones and use them or some other fun idea, but I chose to make some out of the wood scraps I had, using a hole saw, and my cordless drill. If your saw is not very sharp, or if your drill is not very strong, you may want to use a corded drill. One of the teeth on my hole saw was slightly bent so it took more effort to cut so I went through a few batteries before switching to a corded drill.

You will need 12 checkers for each player, so 24 in total.

Note: I cut 34 total, so each player would have 5 back up pieces, just in case something happens to any of them or any come up missing.

Step 6: Sand, Sand, and Sand

This step is pretty self explanatory. Sand the all the wood stuff (table top(s) and checkers), including edges.

I did not take pictures of sanding the checkers, but I did that by hand with sand paper and for any stubborn little bristly bits around the edge that just did not want to sand smooth, I used nail trimmer to snip them down to avoid future splinters.

Step 7: Paint and Attach

If only doing a table top, paint the underside only. If you are also doing a piece that will be trapped between the table top and the base, paint the top and bottom of that piece as well.

Once your piece(s) have dried, lay the table top on the ground with the painted bottom facing up.

If doing a second piece, like mine, place that piece on top of the table top with the bottom facing up.

Then, invert the table onto the table top with the smaller piece (if using) in the middle, making sure it is not under one of the attachment sites.

Next, made sure your base is centered on the disk and even all the way around. I eyeballed it, but you could measure if you wanted to be precise.

Then, use screws, and washers if necessary, to attach the base to the table top.

Once the tabletop had been attached, turn the table upright and center the smaller disk.

Note: At this point, rubber feet, foam tape, or something else could be used to hold the bottom disk securely in place if desired. I do not plan to move the table often so I did not do this, because I do not think I will have any problems with it shifting.

Step 8: Draw the Grid for Your Checker/Chess Board

The grid for a standard checker/chess board is 8 squares x 8 squares. I did my squares 3" in size. Of course you will have to adjust your size based on your table top measurements. As long as your game board is 8 squares x 8 squares, it does not matter how big they are.

Step 9: Tape and Paint

After drawing my grid/game board, I taped off the boarder and paint-stained the background and table edges, red. If you have never done this before, it is something that I like to do, I use paint like stain. I dip a rag into the paint and rub it on the surface that I am wanting to paint. It gives it a nice smooth even coat.

Once the background is painted and dried, tape off your grid. It is your choice how you do this. You will figure out your own flow as you go. Once you have it all taped pick one of your game board colors and paint every other square that color.

After you have painted all the exposed squares, carefully remove the tape, before it dries.

Once dried, re-tape to expose new squares to paint.

After all squares of one color have been painted and dried, repeat the process with the second color.

Note: While painting the first taped sections, I also went into the areas that were blocked off with the tape and marked the rest of the squares that would be the same color. This help prevent me from getting confused and painting the wrong square the wrong color. As you can see in the pictures, when it is all taped up it makes it look crazy and confusing a little, because you end up with small rectangles of different sizes going different directions and you can easily get confused.

Step 10: Fix the Bleed

If your plywood was not completely smooth, mine was not, then like me, you have have some bleed where the paint worked its way under the edge of the tape, or you may have just accidentally dropped or smudged some paint on top of another color. No big deal. Paint is forgiving.

Touch up any bleed with a fine-detail paintbrush, and any smudges or spills with an appropriate sized brush and needed color for correction.

Note:I did not re-tape, as I felt it would yield the same results I was trying to fix.

Step 11: Paint Your Checkers

This step is also pretty self-explanatory.

Separate your checkers in to two piles of equal number.

Paint half the checker in one color.

Paint the remaining checker in the second color.

After the checkers are dry, paint a crown on one of the sides of each checker piece.

Note: You can paint all the crowns the same color if you wish. I chose to paint the crowns different colors for each player/team. I painted silver crowns on the black pieces and gold crowns on the white pieces, for better contrast. Also, you can use a stencil if you wish; I just free-handed mine.

Step 12: Time to Win, Er, Play ;-P

Now that your game table is all nice and beautiful and complete, it is time to get your game on!

I bought a red basket from the dollar store to keep all my checker pieces in so I can store them on the shelf under the table top. It keeps them tidy, easily accessible, and out of the way.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and find a table base on the side of the road real soon, so you can try it out and make your own AWESOME Outdoor Checkers and Chess game table.

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