Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DIY Chess Board Table

My little table
I didn't grow up in an especially "handy" home. My father was a decent fixer of toys, and in a summer when I was little and he was out of work he built a fort for my brother and I that stood beside our house for the next 20 years.

But in terms of passing on skills, I learned most of what I know in theatre shops (working with wood) or in the Boy Scouts (ropes, knots and catapult building). I'd like to learn more.

So in an effort to teach myself a little more, I built a chess board table, basically by following directions I found here and here. And while I still have to stain and polyurethane it (it's just been too cold), the project is done. It was never expected to be a beautiful thing, but a piece of furniture I can leave on our back porch, and play on with friends in the summer time.

Things I wish I'd known at the start:
1) I should have sanded the strips before I cut them. I cut the boards into strips, and then glued and clamped the strips together to cross-cut into squares. If I'd sanded the boards while they were strips, I probably could have saved myself some time at the end.

2) I wish I'd allowed an inch of saw-loss. I measured and marked my strips to cut into 1.5" squares, but I didn't leave any extra. By the time I ran the saw over each strip 8 times, I was left with little rectangles instead of little squares. It's hardly noticeable on any given piece, but the board is a full in longer than it is wide. Whoops!

3) Figure out a better way to build a shelf. You can see my little shelf in the picture; I figured it would give me a place to leave a set or put down captured pieces. It's just a piece of plywood resting on dowels I put in my 2x4 legs. If I'd thought it through a little more, I probably would have put a groove in the legs to slide the shelf into place.

In its way, the project was a success. And it's given me the confidence to tackle a much bigger project- building a tv stand/ entertainment cabinet for our spare room that'll hide the video game controllers and DVDs (#19 on the list). There's only one way to learn...


  1. OMG--are you kidding?!! You might not have expected to build a "beautiful thing," but that's exactly what you did!