Category: Personal Skills Tutorial Program

Chess Table

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The Chess Table is a Do It Yourself product for people with neurological and learning disabilities to create. It has a wooden case with a drawer on each end, tapered legs and a ceramic tile top surrounded by metal. Many screws, corner brackets and decorative handles complete the look. It is finished in a mission oak stain.

Technical Specifications: 

Step One: Gather Materials and Tools.


  • 2 feet × 2 feet × ½ inch plywood.
  • 1/8 inch × 1 ¼ inch steel angle – 3-foot lengths × 2.
  • 1 × 4 pine board - 4 feet long.
  • 1 × 6 pine board - 6 feet long.
  • 1 × 8 pine board - 2 feet long.
  • 2 × 6 pine board - 8 feet long.
  • 2 × 2-inch tile (black and white, sold in 12-inch squares held together with glue).
  • Steel mending plates and corner brackets.
  • Construction adhesive.
  • Two in one wood stain and polyurethane.
  • Wood glue.
  • Wood Filler.
  • Citric acid.
  • Gun blue.
  • Metal clear coat.
  • Screws (1/2-inch, ¾-inch and 1 ¼-inch).
  • Furniture glides.
  • Cabinet Handles.


  • Mitre saw (with both a wood cutting blade and a metal cutting blade).
  • Table saw.
  • Drill press.
  • Brad Nailer.
  • Drill.
  • Sander.
  • File.
  • Dremel rotary tool.
  • Paintbrush.

Step 2: Build the Top.

  • Separate the tiles, and scrape off any glue that is left on the edges. The user will need 32 of each for their chessboard. Put pieces of steel angle along two adjoining edges of the plywood. Make an eight tile × eight tile square, pressed tight against the two pieces of steel angle. Remove the steel angle and measure the space between the tile edge and the edge of the plywood. Now, measure from the far edge of the tile to the edge of the plywood and add the user’s first measurement to this new length and that will give them the total length for their plywood. Verify the other direction as well to make sure it is square.
  • Use a table saw to cut the plywood into a 17 ½-inch square.
  • Put a metal cutting blade in the mitre saw and cut the ends of steel angles at 45 degrees, 17 5/8 inches long, from long point to long point. Use a file to clean up any burrs from cutting. Use a drill press to drill holes along the middle of the steel angles every two inches starting from the center and measuring outwards. Do this along both sides of the steel. The holes should be just big enough for the ¾-inch screws to fit through.
  • Temporarily attach the steel angles to the plywood with a couple of screws. Lay out the tiles inside this square, in the order of the user’s preference, to make sure everything fits properly. If all is good, remove the tiles, put down a thin layer of construction adhesive and replace the tiles on top. If some of the tiles are a slightly different size, it looks better to space out any gaps in the middle of the board rather than have it along the edge.
  • After the adhesive dries, remove the steel angles, polish them up with a wire wheel in a Dremel tool and give them two coats of gun blue, polishing after each coat. Soak the screws in citric acid for a couple of hours to remove the zinc coating and polish them up as well. Give the screws and the steel angles a couple of coats of protective clear coating. When dry reattach the angles to the chessboard with a couple of screws.

Step Three: Build the Case.

  • Cut two pieces of 1 × 6 to 16 inches long. Cut four pieces of 1 × 4 at 5 ½ inches long. Cut another piece of 1 × 6 at 10 ½ inches long and then rip it down to two pieces at 1 5/8 inches wide and two pieces at 3/4 inches wide. Cut a piece of 1 × 4 to 16 inches and rip two ¾-inch wide pieces from it.
  • Glue and nail the 5 ½-inch pieces of 1 × 4 onto the ends of the 16-inch pieces of 1 × 6. Glue and nail the 1 5/8 × 10 ½ inches pieces flush with the tops of the 1 × 4 and the ¾-inch × 10 ½-inch pieces flush with the bottoms to form a box as shown in the pictures. Glue and nail the ¾-inch × 16-inch pieces centered across the top and bottom as pictured to add stability. Attach mending plates to the inside of the case at the joints to strengthen them.
  • Fill the nail holes with wood filler and after it dries, sand the case and finish with stain and polyurethane.

Step 4: Build the Drawers.

  • Rip some of the leftover ½-inch plywood to 2 7/8 inches wide. Cut four pieces at 8 1/8 inches long and two pieces at 9 3/8 inches. Cut two pieces of 1 × 8 at 9 3/8 inches long. Cut two pieces of 1 × 6 at 11 ½ inches long and rip them down to 4 inches wide.
  • Set the table saw blade at ½-inch depth and ½-inch from the fence and cut a rabbet around all four sides of both 4-inch pieces as shown in the picture.
  • Glue and nail the pieces of wood together to make two drawers, with the 1 × 8 as the bottom, the plywood pieces as the sides and back and the 4-inch pieces as the drawer fronts.
  • Insert the drawers into the case and mark where the drawers touch the ¾-inch strip on the bottom. Cut some small pieces of plywood and nail them to the back of the drawers on either side of these lines to act as drawer guides. Cut the backs of the drawer sides on an angle so that the user will be able to insert the drawers with the guides on.
  • Fill the nail holes with wood filler, sand and finish with stain and polyurethane.

Step 5: Attach the Top and Add Details.

  • Put the chessboard portion on top of the case. Flip it upside down and add a couple of corner brackets to hold it in place. Flip it back over and add the rest of the ¾-inch screws all around the top and sides of the steel angles.
  • Soak eight corner brackets and enough ¾-inch screws for them in citric acid to remove the zinc coating. Finish the brackets with two coats of gun blue and polish them and the screws with a wire wheel in the Dremel. Apply two coats of protective clear coat. When dry, attach two brackets, evenly spaced, to each corner of the case. Attach handles to the sides of the case and to the drawer fronts.

Step 6: Build the Legs.

  • This product was originally going to put a shelf near the bottom of the chess table and so the maker built the legs to accommodate that. However, once the legs were on, they decided they liked it better without a shelf. If the user chooses to make legs for the table, follow the steps below.
  • Cut four pieces of 2 × 6 at 23 inches long. Set the table saw blade at a 45-degree angle and rip eight pieces that are 2 ¾ inches wide to the long point of the angle. Set the table saw blade back to 90 degrees. Make a tapering jig out of some scrap pieces of wood. Make the space between the boards at the end of the jig 1 inch. Place the jig against the table saw fence and put one of the 23-inch boards in place in the jig with the long point of the angle against the jig and the bottom of the board resting against the stop block. Adjust the fence so the board will contact the saw blade at 8" down from the top of the board. Run the boards through the saw using the jig with half the boards oriented with the long side facing down and half with the long side facing up. This will give the user four pairs of boards with tapers on opposite sides.
  • Next, set the saw blade at a height of ¾ inches and put the fence 5 ½ inches from the blade. With the long side facing down and the top toward the fence, run each board through the saw several times to slowly nibble away half the thickness of the top of the boards.
  • Now glue and nail the board pairs together along the 45-degree angle to form four legs with tapered edges on each side.
  • Fill the nail holes, sand and finish each leg. Nail a furniture glide to the bottom of each leg. Flip the chessboard upside down and attach the legs with 1 ¼-inch screws, four per leg. Flip the table back over and enjoy.


Price Check
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Additional Pricing Notes: 
Do It Yourself.
Chess Table