Making a hardwood chess board

I’ve been wanting to make a nice chess board for a while. GF to the rescue.

I went to the wood store yesterday to get more Baltic Birch plywood (I go through it quickly). While I was there, I saw some 1/4in thick pieces of exotic woods. I picked up a few to try them out.

I got some yellowheart and some black walnut.

I did some tests cuts. Going 140 speed, full power, 2 passes worked well. Although there were some pretty big flare ups on the second pass. Keep a good eye on these if you try it.

I also tried some Purpleheart, but that did not cut well, even after 3 passes.

After my tests, I cut squares out of them.

I used tape to hold the pieces in place, and numbered the back of the squares, so I could keep the grain aligned. I sanded those pieces down with 220 sandpaper.

I then cut a template to hold all the squares and put them in place, with the nice side down. I cut the template a little smaller than the total square size in my design, so that they would be snug.

I then glued a board over top of it. I wanted the edge to be kind of “floating”, so the board underneath is slightly smaller.

I put something heavy over top to “clamp” it down.

I then put some of this stuff on it:

And it came out really nice.

It would probably work great with the proofgrade woods as well. If only they shipped to Canada I would pick up a few.


Super impressive. Great job! Are you planning on cutting out game pieces as well?


That’s a beautiful choice of woods and I love the fact that you kept the grain oriented consistently. (The personal bane of my existence.) :grinning:


Really nicely done! I like how it turned out.


Very nice! I was working on a design using a single board (engraving the dark squares) but now you have me rethinking my design.


Probably, but I have not figure out how yet. I made these (Halloween Checkers) for another board, but I think I want to make something nicer for this one.



This is on my list of projects I want to do.

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Oooh, that’s pretty! Nice wood choices.

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Hold on there, young feller. One awesome project per week, please. You’re making me see exactly what I’m not doing with my life! :slight_smile:

Looks amazing. The oil really brought out some color and give the whole board a very consistent look!


I think everything you do is going to come out really nice. Love it!


I’m on vacation this week. So I have lots of time to play with my GF.


So glad you’re on vacation … show us more! Awesome turnout!


It would probably work great with the proofgrade woods as well. If only they shipped to Canada I would pick up a few.

They don’t ship proofgrade materials to Canada? That is highly disappointing.

Not yet. They will soon I think. For now they are only shipping to the US.

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Currently Glowforges are not being shipped to Canada, so no Proofgrade to Canada either. When they start shipments to Canada then they will offer Proofgrade there too. Canadians that have their Glowforge had them shipped to a USA address and drove across the border to pick them up.


Really nice project. And thank you especially for all the pictures.

There’s an easy way to glue up chess boards without dealing with all those little squares.

Say you want 1" squares. Start by cutting four 1 x 8.25" strips out of each color. Glue them together, alternating colors. Use a couple of bar clamps to hold them tight. Once dry cut 1 x 8" strips perpendicular to the original cut. Flip every other strip, glue up and clamp.

I made a board this way in high school wood shop out of maple and mahogany. I started to turn the pieces on the lathe but the semester ended. I still have the board but the incomplete pieces are long gone.

I like the idea of the floating board. It turned out great.


That is a beauty!!

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Very nice. I love chess boards and chess pieces, I just don’t like playing chess. The oil really made the final product pop.