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Home / DIY Ideas / I built a chess table for my office

I built a chess table for my office

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In this project we’re going to build a chess table!
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Ever since we moved into this house I’ve wanted a chess table in my office, so I built one!

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I used birch plywood for the table top and squares. I started by marking a 9×9 grid of squares, each one 2 inches wide. Chess boards are 8×8, but I figured I’d make some extra, just in case (really glad I did that, it came in handy). Chess players will probably cringe a little at my labeling, since rows should be denoted by numbers, and columns by letters. 🙂03

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After a couple practice cuts with the circular saw, I felt like I was precise enough to do the real deal. I wanted the grain to match on every square, so there was a lot of pressure not to screw up!04

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Cutting the other direction was more complicated, and I actually messed up the final row, but that’s why I cut a 9×9 grid instead of 8×8. Here you can also see all the boards I used for testing stain colors.05

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The bottom row was a little messed up, and there was a gap on the left, so the upper-right 64 squares are the finalists.06

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Staining the squares. I used one coat of Minwax wood finish, the dark squares are English Chestnut, light squares are Natural. It took a lot of testing to figure out what worked best, now I have a huge collection of wood stains. 🙂07

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I was ready to abandon the whole project if something went wrong at this stage, but it looks good!08

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Measuring out the rest of the tabletop from more birch plywood. This isn’t a very efficient way to cut, but it’s all about looks. There were some imperfections in the grain on the flip side that I was trying to get avoid.09

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Here’s how the sides came out. Three of them fit together pretty nicely, but one was too small and had to be re-cut.10

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Looking good!11

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I cheated a little bit here and ordered an unfinished pedestal online. It’s pretty enormous, but I’m rolling with it.12

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I decided on Cherry stain for the pedestal and table edges. This is also after a couple coats of Minwax semi-gloss polyurethane.13

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This is the plate that will connect the pedestal to the board, just a 14″x14″ piece of the leftover plywood.14

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Rather than using a drill to recess the bolts, it seemed easier to use a chisel to cut a few layers out. Now the board can sit flush on top of it.15

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The trim I picked out is taller than two sheets of plywood, so here I’m gluing a third sheet of 1/4″ plywood on top of the base for extra height.16

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It’s all starting to come together!17

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The connector plate attaches to the tabletop with four wood screws.18

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I used an orbital sander to take about 1/2 inch off the corners, mostly for looks, but also because I’m prone to bumping into things.19

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It was kinda hard to find a trim at Home Depot that would work the way I wanted, but this style worked pretty well. I could’ve used the circular saw to cut it, but I’ve been looking for a reason to use the mitre box I’ve had sitting around forever.20

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Staining the trim with Cherry. Those tiny pieces were a pain to cut by hand!21

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I was going to try gluing/clamping the trim somehow instead of using nails, but this ended up being much easier. I put them close enough to the overhang that they aren’t noticeable against the cherry stain, unless you’re looking very closely.22

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Three coats of polyurethane later, and we’re done!23

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Looks even better in action. 🙂24

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This was a really fun project, and I’m super happy with the results. I didn’t keep track of the total cost, but materials were: a couple sheets of 3/4 inch birch plywood (plus one 1/4 inch piece for spacing), about 10 feet of trim, three cans of wood stain, one can of polyurethane, a pre-fab pedestal (the pedestal was $99), and a few wood screws. Thanks for checking it out!
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