I bought a giant chess set, with 8″ kings, for my daughter’s birthday. The chessmen are awesome, but the board, a flimsy fabric with too-small squares, left a lot to be desired. I was looking on craigslist for a table that might work as a board for this set when I found this perfect, square, solid-oak, 41″ x 41″ coffee table.
Rather than paint squares on the table, I was inspired by elegant wood boards the likes of this FIDE board or the professional DGT boards to make the squares via light and dark stained wood.
A little googling, and I came across a technique for making designs in wood using stain and wood glue. After masking off your desired design, you paint wood glue mixed with water over the areas where you don’t want the stain to take. With the wood glue dried on the light colored squares, I applied stain to the whole board. No worries about getting stain over the light colored squares, since they’re sealed with wood glue, the stain just wipes off of them – awesome. To protect the table, I finished with a few coats of satin polyurethane.
Bought this solid oak 41″ x 41″ coffee table on craigslist for $25
Sanding with 60 grit
More sanding with 60 grit
Then finished sanding with 150 and then 220 grit
Marking off lines. I wanted a border wide enough to hold captured pieces, so went with a 4″ boarder and then divided the interior up evenly, which left squares just big enough for the chessmen.
Using an exacto knife to cut out all the light colored squares
Painted 3 coats of wood glue mixed with water onto all the light squares
After the glue dried, I removed the masking tape, and applied two coats of stain to the whole board
I applied two coats of satin polyurethane
After two coats of polyurethane, I noticed a rough spot in the wood in one of the dark squares, so I took a detour to fill the rough spot with stainable wood filler
After the wood filler dried, I sanded the whole thing and applied two more coats of poly