End-Grain Chess Board - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.


Sam Goodrich
Informal educator


This lesson is designed for those interested in getting hands-on time with wood shop-based tools. In this lesson plan we’ll go over how to build a playing surface for one of the oldest known tactical games still played today throughout most cultures on this planet. Chess is a game that has players from all around the world, separated by culture and language, and connected by 64 squares and 32 pieces that make up this scholastic game. Whether you’re just learning, a piece hustler, or a tactical genius, your future board can be a common ground to spend some genuine face-to-face time with someone in this otherwise tech driven world.

What You'll Need

Playing Squares

  • 4 – 2″x 2″ x 8″ Maple Wood Turning Blanks
  • 4 – 2″x 2″ x 8″ Walnut Wood Turning Blanks


Chess Board Frame

  • 1 – 1″ x 3″ x 8″ (Your Choice of Wood) Walnut Board for frame


Tools Needed

  • Chop Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Table Router
  • Diablo 3/8 in. Carbide Adjustable Tongue and Groove Router Bit Set
  • Planer
  • ShopBot CNC
  • Epilogue Legend 36EXT Laser Cutter
  • 5″ Random Orbit Sandor
  • 8 – 24″ Quick Release Bar Clamps


Supplies Needed

  • Sandpaper Set 10 Grades Includes 60, 80, 100, 120, 150,180, 240, 320, 400, 600
  • Wax Paper
  • Titebond Original Wood Glue
  • Paint brush or roller (for glue application)
  • Sponge and container for water (for glue removal)
  • Howard Products Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner


Other Items Needed

  • Design Software (CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator)


Optional Items

  • Resin (for filling between frame and board)
  • Pencil
  • Small Paper Pad or Paper


The Instructions

The Opening Game: Preparation

Now is the time to prepare our turning blanks for their transformation.

Turning Blanks into Ranks and Files

If we are using turning blanks (blanks), we have to make sure our blanks are all the same size. We can do this by using calipers to measure every blank on both ends and in the middle.


To make this easy on our selves make sure you have a pencil, and some scratch paper if you’re not willing to write on the wood. Once you measure all sides (not including the length) number each blank and write both the number and it’s measurements down on the scratch piece of paper.



 An Even Planing Field

After measuring all blanks and determining the smallest, begin to prepare the planer by setting the height to match the height of the smallest blank.


Once height is set, you will run all blanks through planer in a specific manner. For consistency purpose you can mark the end of a blank with a pencil marking the side you’re sending through the planer. In the picture above we would make a hashmark at the end on the top side as this will be the one cut. Once the first side goes through, rotate blank left or right once, mark that side and send it through again. We should only need to plane these two sides.




This task is complete when all our blanks can line up end to end with no variation in sizes. No blank should be thicker or thinner than the other.


Prepare for the next step by placing your blanks on the table alternating wood types so they sit walnut, maple, and so on continuing this pattern until all 8 blanks are side-by-side.