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How to build a chess and checkerboard

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When you have your strips cut, lay them in an alternating pattern (dark, light, dark, light). For each one, choose one side to be the top face (the side you’ll see when the board is complete). Once they’re organized in a way that you’re happy with, I recommend numbering the strips, which will be a useful reference guide once the gluing starts.

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Make sure to spread the glue evenly along the entire edge of each strip. It’s important that the gluing is done correctly or things can fall apart later on.

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The clamps should be perfectly perpendicular to the edges of the board so they don’t make any dents. If you’re using a soft wood, such as pine, place pieces of scrap wood between the clamps and the board to distribute the pressure and protect the crisp edge of the board. Once the strips are clamped, wipe the excess glue off the top face with a damp rag.

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While gluing and clamping, there are two important things to look out for:

First, it is very important that at least two of the sides are square to one another. It doesn’t matter what the other side looks like, but you need at least one of the cut edges to be perfectly straight. While clamping, keep checking this by putting a framing square along two edges, and use a hammer to gently tap the strips into alignment. You may need to loosen a clamp a bit to do this.

Secondly, while gluing, keep the board as flat as possible. The clamps are likely to curl the edges upward, creating a slight bowl effect. So, as you’re gluing and clamping, keep placing a straight edge on the top of the board (across and diagonal) and making adjustments when necessary. Some unevenness is fine; you’ll be sanding it flat later. But it’s much easier to deal with it now than later on.

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