Wooden Chess Set

Introduction: Wooden Chess Set

This is a set of plans for making wooden chess pieces using basic woodworking tools, no lathe work is required. The pieces are made from 7 mm plywood and round pine dowels in various sizes, plus a few other items obtainable from craft suppliers. The plans cover a standard chess set, plus 3 extra pieces which are used for Chinese Chess ( XiangQi )

Step 1: What You Will Need


For a basic chess set : 37 mm diameter plywood discs, 7mm thick , cut with a hole saw : 48

25 mm diameter plywood discs as above : 18

Pine Dowel 19 mm diameter : 650 mm

Pine Dowel 6 mm diameter : 1500 mm

12 mm diameter wooden beads : 24

15 mm wooden cubes : 8

7 mm plywood 100 mm x 400 mm

Tools, etc. : Electric Drill, Hole saws, 37 mm & 25 mm diameter & Coping Saw

Files & Sandpaper, Wood Glue, Dark Wood Stain, Urethane Oil Varnish

Felt, dressmaking pins & 6 mm lead balls [ optional ]

Step 2: KING

The plan shows the assembly of the parts. The two dowel sections are drilled through their centres with a 6.5 mm hole to fit over the central dowel. Beginning with the base, the 6 mm x 75 mm dowel is glued in, followed by the remaining pieces. The cross on the top is cut from 7 mm plywood. The construction of all the other pieces is similar to the King.

Step 3: QUEEN

The 6 pieces which make up the crown can be made from ice block sticks. I made 2 White and 2 Black Queens to allow for Pawns being promoted.

Step 4: BISHOP

The 7-sided block on the top is cut from a 15 mm wood cube, with two cuts going from the diagonal of one face to the corner of the opposite face. ( If 15 mm wood blocks are not available, you could make them by laminating two 15 mm x 15 mm pieces of 7 mm plywood ). The rhombic pieces are cut from 7 mm plywood.

Step 5: KNIGHT

The horse's head is made from 2 identical parts cut from 7 mm plywood with a coping saw. Details such as mane, eyes & mouth can be added as desired with a narrow file or utility knife.

Step 6: ROOK

Construction method is similar to the King and Queen.

Step 7: PAWN

Construction is straightforward in the usual way.


XiangQi or Chinese Chess is played with Elephants, Cannons and Guards ( also known as Advisers or Mandarins ). An excellent game, equally as intriguing as western chess and well worth learning.



The Black pieces can be stained with a dark wood stain, and all pieces finished with 3 coats of urethane oil varnish. If desired, the bases may be weighted with small lead balls ( fishing sinkers ) to give them a better feel. The sinkers can be glued into holes drilled in the base. After this, circles of felt can be glued to the bases. I used some dressmaking pins to add "pearls" and eyes to the pieces, but this is also optional.

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