Attention Fellow Woodworkers: This site contains affiliate links. If you click one of those links and then make a purchase we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

How Do I Build A Wooden Chessboard?

Are you a chess enthusiast looking to add a personal touch to your gaming experience? If so, then building your own wooden chessboard might be just the project for you! In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of creating a beautiful wooden chessboard from scratch. From selecting the right materials to mastering the intricate design, you will discover everything you need to know to embark on this rewarding DIY journey. So grab your tools and let’s get started on crafting a chessboard that reflects your unique style and love for the game.

Materials and Tools

To build a wooden chessboard, you will need several materials and tools. Here is a list of what you will need:


Choose a high-quality wood such as maple, walnut, or cherry for your chessboard. Selecting a visually appealing wood will enhance the overall appearance of the chessboard.

Wood Glue

Wood glue is essential for joining the different pieces of wood together. Look for a strong and durable wood glue that will provide a solid bond.


Clamps are necessary to hold the pieces of wood in place while the glue dries. Make sure to have enough clamps to secure the chessboard during assembly.


A saw will be used to cut the wood into the desired dimensions. A table saw or a circular saw with a miter gauge will help you achieve precise and accurate cuts.

Miter Gauge

A miter gauge is a tool that helps guide the wood while making angled cuts. It is essential when creating the chessboard’s border and ensuring the corners are perfectly aligned.

Sanding Block

A sanding block will be used to smoothen the edges and surfaces of the chessboard. It is important to achieve a smooth finish before applying any stains or finishes.

Wood Stain

Wood stain is used to enhance the color and grain of the wood. Choose a stain that complements the chosen wood and achieve the desired aesthetic.


A paintbrush is needed to apply the wood stain evenly to the chessboard. Ensure that it is clean and suitable for use with wood stain.

Polyurethane Finish

A polyurethane finish is applied to protect the wood and add durability to the chessboard. It creates a protective barrier against moisture, scratches, and other potential damages.


A drill is necessary for various tasks, such as creating holes for the chessboard pieces or attaching the border strips. Make sure to have the appropriate drill bits for your project.

Design and Measurements

Before starting the construction process, you need to decide on the chessboard’s design and determine its size. Here are the steps involved:

Choose the Chessboard Pattern

There are several design options available for a chessboard, including traditional checkered patterns or more intricate designs. Consider the overall aesthetic you want to achieve and select a pattern that fits your taste.

Determine the Size

The standard size of a chessboard is usually 18 inches by 18 inches, but you can customize the dimensions according to your preferences. Consider the size of your chess pieces and the available space where you plan to use the chessboard.

Divide the Chessboard into Squares

Once you have determined the size, divide the chessboard into squares. Each square should be equal in size and evenly spaced. Use a ruler or measuring tape to ensure accurate measurements and marking.

Preparing the Wood

Before you can start assembling the chessboard, you need to prepare the wood for construction. Here are the steps involved:

Selecting the Wood

Choose high-quality wood that is free from knots or defects. Maple, walnut, and cherry are popular choices for chessboards due to their durability and attractive appearance.

Cutting the Wood

Using a saw, cut the selected wood into the dimensions determined earlier. Ensure the cuts are clean and accurate to ensure the chessboard’s squares and border fit together perfectly.

Smoothening the Edges

After cutting the wood, use a sanding block to smoothen the edges. This will ensure a seamless fit when assembling the chessboard pieces. Pay attention to detail and take your time to achieve a professional finish.

Creating the Chessboard

With the wood prepared, it’s time to start assembling the chessboard. Follow these steps to create your chessboard:

Assembling the Alternating Squares

Start by arranging the cut wood pieces in an alternating pattern, creating the chessboard’s checkered design. Apply wood glue to the edges of each piece and press them together firmly. Use clamps to hold the squares in place while the glue dries.

Gluing the Squares to the Backing

Once the chessboard squares are assembled, you will need a backing to hold them in place. Apply wood glue to the back of the chessboard squares and press them onto the backing material. Ensure the squares are aligned correctly and evenly spaced.

Securing the Chessboard with Clamps

To ensure a strong bond between the squares and the backing, use clamps to secure the chessboard. Apply even pressure across its surface to create an even and secure bond. Leave the chessboard clamped until the glue has fully dried.

Adding the Border

The border adds a finishing touch to the chessboard’s design. Follow these steps to add the border:

Choosing the Border Width

Decide on the desired width for the chessboard’s border. It should be proportionate to the overall size of the chessboard. Use a miter gauge to ensure precise and straight cuts for the border strips.

Cutting the Border Strips

Using a saw and the predetermined border width, cut the wood strips for the border. Ensure the length of the strips matches the dimensions of the chessboard.

Attaching the Border to the Chessboard

Apply wood glue to the back of the border strips and carefully attach them to the edges of the chessboard. Use clamps to hold the strips in place until the glue dries. Double-check the alignment and squareness of the corners to ensure a professional finish.

Finishing Touches

Now that the chessboard is assembled, it’s time to add finishing touches that will enhance its appearance and ensure its longevity.

Sanding the Chessboard

Use a sanding block to smoothen the entire surface of the chessboard, including the borders. Pay attention to any rough spots or uneven edges and sand them down for a smooth finish.

Applying Wood Stain

Choose a wood stain that complements the type of wood used and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Use a paintbrush to apply an even coat of stain to the chessboard. Allow it to dry according to the stain’s recommended drying time.

Sealing with Polyurethane Finish

To protect the wood and give it a glossy, durable finish, apply a polyurethane finish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying additional coats. Ensure the finish is evenly applied to all surfaces.

Creating the Playing Surface

A smooth and even playing surface is important for enjoyable gameplay. Follow these steps to create the perfect playing surface:

Filling the Chessboard Holes

If there are any small gaps or holes on the chessboard’s playing surface, fill them with wood filler. Smooth out the wood filler and allow it to dry completely before sanding.

Smoothing the Playing Surface

Use a sanding block to smoothen the entire playing surface of the chessboard. This will ensure that the chess pieces glide smoothly during gameplay and provide a satisfying experience.

Final Steps

Now that the chessboard is constructed and finished, there are a few final steps to complete:

Applying a Final Coat of Finish

Apply a final coat of polyurethane finish to the entire chessboard. This will provide added protection and enhance the overall appearance of the chessboard.

Adding Felt Pads to the Bottom

To protect the surface the chessboard will be placed on, attach felt pads to the bottom corners of the chessboard. These pads will prevent scratches and ensure the chessboard sits evenly and securely.

Polishing the Chess Pieces

Before starting a game, take the time to clean and polish the chess pieces. This will enhance their appearance and maintain their longevity. Use a soft cloth and a mild wood polish to clean and shine the chess pieces.

Maintenance and Care

To ensure your wooden chessboard remains in excellent condition, it’s important to follow proper maintenance and care procedures. Here’s what you need to do:

Cleaning the Chessboard

Regularly clean the chessboard with a soft, clean cloth to remove any dust or debris. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the wood’s finish.

Avoiding Moisture and Sunlight

Keep the chessboard away from direct sunlight and excessive moisture. Exposure to these elements can cause the wood to fade, warp, or discolor over time.

Repairing Damages

If the chessboard sustains any damages, such as scratches or chips, repair them promptly using appropriate wood fillers and touch-up solutions. Consult with a professional if the damages are significant.


Congratulations on building your own wooden chessboard! You have not only created a functional and enjoyable game, but also a beautiful work of art. Take pride in your craftsmanship and enjoy the countless hours of chess games to come. Display your chessboard proudly, knowing that it is a testament to your woodworking skills and creativity.

If you enjoyed this article, please share with your audience!


The Art of Woodworking

Get your FREE 440-page Woodworking Guide. Includes 40 Step-by-Step Plans in Full Color.

The Art of Woodworking Book

We value your privacy and we’ll never spam you.

The Art of Woodworking

Get your FREE 440-page Woodworking Guide. Includes 40 Step-by-Step Plans in Full Color. The “Art of Woodworking” guide is a jam-packed, no fluff guide to all things woodworking! And to top it off you’ll also get fully detailed step-by-step plans to many different projects!
The Art of Woodworking Book

Download your copy of this FREE guide

We value your privacy and we’ll never spam you.