DIY Chess or Checkers Table

Hi! Thanks for stopping by to check out my latest build! Today’s build is a super fun Chess Board Table! During a visit with my brother and his family in Florida, the kids played lots of chess games on a super cool Chess Board table they had.

I had never seen anything like it and I knew I’d have to build one when we got home, and here is what I came up with!

This was a very easy build. The hardest part was probably getting the little squares just right. I debated whether to tape off a solid board and paint/stain the individual squares, or to glue different colored pieces together, then cut them. In the end, I decided to glue strips together and cut them, inspired by this method. It worked pretty well, although some of the pieces got knocked apart by my table saw- the blade is crooked and I haven’t gotten a replacement yet. A Circular saw would also be a great way to go, too!

Let’s get started!

I cut 8 strips of 1×2 at 25″ each. I wanted extra length just in case, but had way too much, so I would go with-

8- 1×2 boards @ 20″ each- Stain half of them. I went with Dark Walnut Stain for contrast

You will also need-

For the Table-

2- 1×2 @ 12″

4- 1×2 @ 15″

2- 1×2 @ 16 1/2″

1- 1/2″ or 3/4″ scrap plywood or MDF @ 15″x15″

For the Legs-

4- 1×2 @ 24″

4- 1×3 @24″

2- 1×2 @24 – Cut to fit- both ends will be cut to points. One of these will get cut to approximately 2- 1×2 @10 7/8″- with a point on one end of each.

1- 2×2 @ 3″

Several- 3/4″, 1 1/2 “, 2” Brad nails or finish nails

2- 1 1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws and Kreg Jig (optional)

Wood Glue

Miter Saw

Table or Circular Saw



Please note- This plan is based on 1×2 boards that are actually 3/4″x 1 1/2″. If your 1×2’s measure different, please modify the plans to suit. Be safe and happy building!


Once the stain has dried on your 20″ 1×2 boards, line them up flat while alternating colors. Glue and clamp together and let sit long enough for your glue to dry. I left mine overnight.

DIY Chess Board TableDIY Chess Board Table

DIY Chess Board Table
I used weights and clamps to keep things straight.

You could prep the rest of your pieces while you wait for this. I realized during assembly it would be a lot easier to sand and stain some of the other pieces before assembling everything.

Once the glue has dried, it’s time to cut your strips. Each of my 1×2’s were actually 1 1/2″ wide, so to make each square perfect, you’ll want to cut 1 1/2″ wide strips. So, each strip will be     1 1/2″ wide and alternating colors. You’ll need 8 good strips, but should have enough extra to make up for any messed up ones. Sorry, I did not get a picture of this part!

Once you have your strips- grab the rest of your table pieces and assemble your strips on top of your piece of 15″ x 15″ plywood or MDF.

DIY Chess Board Table

Now, it is starting to look like a Chess Board! I lined everything up, then took it all off and put wood glue on the plywood, and reassembled the strips while carefully gluing them together as I went. You’ll want everything centered for the next step. There should be 1 1/2″ of plywood showing on all sides. It’s best to do this all at once in case you need to move anything around before your glue dries. Again, I realized during assembly that it would be easier to stain the rest of my table pieces before assembling. I stained, wiped dry, and kept rolling here.

After you’ve got your strips centered on the board, it’s time to start adding the edges. First, take your 2- 1×2 @12″. Glue and add these flat on two opposite sides of your chess board, on top of the plywood. Then add 2 of your 15″ pieces, making sure to glue to the chess board and to the plywood. Now, your plywood should be covered up if looking down from the top, but showing from the side. I centered  and clamped things together here. It would have probably been best to let my glue dry, but I tend to wing it, so kept going 😉

DIY Chess Board Table

At this point I grabbed my nailer, and very carefully tipped my board up just enough to start nailing everything from the bottom to keep from showing nail marks in the top. I used a piece of 1/2″ MDF, so I swapped over to 3/4″ nails. You could also use 1″ nails. I tried to hit every square from the bottom, but I’m sure that much nailing wasn’t necessary. I also grabbed some 2″ nails, and nailed my edge pieces from the side to really secure things. You see how from the side, the plywood is still visible? We’re going to cover that up now.

Now, we are going to lay our last 4 1×2 board pieces on sideways and secure with glue and nails. First, add your 2 remaining 1×2 @15″ pieces. I ended up flipping my board over to make sure everything was flush on the top side of the board. Glue and nail your 15″ pieces along the sides on edge where you have 2 boards meeting. This will really help secure things.

DIY Chess Board TableChess Board Table

Last, you will add your 2- 1×2 @16 1/2″ on edge to the remaining sides. Secure with glue and nails. Clamps are helpful, too. Everything should be nice and square here.  Hopefully the top of your table is nice and smooth. If not, give everything a quick sanding. My crooked bladed table saw chewed things up a bit and I had to do quite a bit of sanding. Worst case, you may have to touch up the stain a bit to keep your squares square. Don’t be like me- get a new blade on your saw if you need it 🙂 Now your top is done! You could actually stop here if you just wanted a Chess Board!

Chess Board Table

Now, you are going to create legs. Line up each 1×2 @ 24″ with a 1×3 @ 24″. You want the 1×2 laying flat, and the 1×3 on edge. Run a line of wood glue where they meet up and nail together with 1 1/2″ brad nails. It’s easiest to set these lengthwise by the edge of your work table so you can nail straight in.

Chess Board TableChess Board TableChess Board Table

Before attaching the legs to my table, I wanted to create support pieces for the bottom of the legs. This is where the 1×2 pieces with pointed edges come in. Start with 2- 1×2 @ 24″ . I found it easiest to lie the 1x2s  across the chess board- line the corners up evenly, then mark the angles with a pen or pencil.

Chess Board TableChess Board Table

Cut the angles for the 24″ pieces, then line them up with one on top of the other. Mark where you need to trim the top one so that you can join them together flush. If you do not have a Kreg Jig- you could leave these overlapping and glue and nail together. Otherwise, mark and cut your 1×2. Mine ended up being 2 @ 10 7/8″ each. I then drilled a 3/4″ Pocket Hole in the straight end of each shorter piece and attached them to the longer one. Lining everything up around the Chess Board really helps.Chess Board TableChess Board TableChess Board TableChess Board Table

Once my X piece looked good, I quick sanded and stained the legs and X piece. Then, I grabbed some 2×2 scraps to prop that X piece up 3″ up from the bottom of the legs. Please note- we are not attaching the legs to the board just yet! We are going to first glue and nail the X piece to the legs. You’ll want your pocket holes facing down and out of sight here.

Chess Board TableChess Board Table

Now that our legs are attached, we can attach the top! With your Chess Board face down, flip the legs over so that the X piece is up in the air. Line your legs up along the outside of your Chess Board corners. Glue and nail the legs to your board.

Chess Board Table

Almost done! I decided at this point to add a little support to the center of the X piece. I can picture my kiddos propping their feet on the X piece and don’t want it breaking! Grab your 3″ piece of 2×2 and lightly sand and stain it quick. With your table right side up, center the 2×2 piece, and attach with glue and brad nails. Chess Board TableDone! Once everything was sanded and any stain touched up, I gave this a few coats of poly.

DIY Chess Board Table. Plans by Sunnyand79.
DIY Chess Board Table. Plans by Sunnyand79.

DIY Chess Board Table

 Thanks again for stopping by! Please let me know if you have any questions! Have a fabulous day!

If you’d like to keep up with the latest builds- follow me on Instagram @sunnyand79 🙂








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