Making a chess board by hand

Some on-line video guides (such as those by George Berry and Steve Ramsey) suggest making a chess board using a 2-stage process where (1) you glue-up alternate light and dark strips and then (2) saw strips perpendicular to the initial set in order to create the squares. This is a neat way to do it because you avoid having to piece together 64 individually cut squares: cumulative error would have serious consequences!

But the guys mentioned above primarily use a table saw – a tool I do not have. It will have to be hand tools all the way on this one…

I initially thought I would avoid the method completely and make a board with separated squares – like this one I saw in Lumberjocks. This design hides any sawing inconsistencies because the squares do not touch each other.

But I decided in the end to go ahead with the 2-stage method and produce a regular board. It worked out just fine. The only extra advice I can give is that the edges need to be squared up with a hand plane for the strips in both stages unless your sawing abilities are well developed.

Stage 1

Stage 2

A lesson learned for the next board I make is that the stage 1 strips should be cut longer than needed. This way the stage 2 strips can be sawn oversized and planed down to the right width. The squares on my board are slightly undersized (and therefore slightly rectangular) because I didn’t leave wiggle-room for saw curf and tidy-up planing.

Lastly, the surface was hand-planed flat and I gave it a quick touch with some fine sandpaper. There was also a small amount of the purple heart and maple left over which was used to make some much needed coasters.



See this follow-up post about an upgraded chess board



2 thoughts on “Making a chess board by hand

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