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

I built a chess table for my office


In this project we’re going to build a chess table!


Ever since we moved into this house I’ve wanted a chess table in my office, so I built one!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Looking good!11


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


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


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


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


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


It’s all starting to come together!17


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


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


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


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


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


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


Looks even better in action. 🙂24


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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