Do it yourself: a chessboard made out of leftover parquet flooring

It’s hard to believe that this chessboard was a floorboard in in its previous life.

Scrap flooring is far too good to be thrown out. That’s why our new Inspirations Series will focus on showing you how to use it in creative ways. The apprentices at Hamberger have developed a few original DIY ideas. We kick off the series with Lisa Menzel who built this brilliant chessboard from parquet floorboards during her first apprenticeship year as an industrial administrative assistant. 

The idea
Lisa and her colleagues are avid chess players, therefore they had the idea to design a chessboard from spare parquet flooring that was just lying around. They cut the parquet strips at home and later added the finishing touches at work. “Much to the amusement of some of our colleagues. But I can also understand them because I imagine it must have looked a bit funny, me standing there in the office with sandpaper in my hand,” she smirks. “It was such a fun task. I’d tackle another DIY project like that again.” Lisa has a tip for inexperienced saw users that would like to make their own chessboard: make sure to take the cut-off into account, meaning don’t measure the material too precisely. She recommends that you should ideally have double the amount of parquet strips necessary.

 You will need the following:

  • For the squares: Six light pieces and six dark pieces (measuring 7 cm x 49 cm)
  • For the border: Eight dark or light strips
  • For the panel: Four light or dark strips to match the border
  • A supporting board, for example a three-ply board (measuring 70 cm x 70 cm; have it cut at a hardware store, if necessary)
  • Wood glue
  • Tools: Cross-cut saw, sandpaper, ruler and pencil

Step 1: Shape the bevel
This step is optional. It is only intended to create a visual contrast between the border and the playing surface. A bevel can quickly be shaped by hand using a professional tool. Alternatively, the edges can also be smoothed with sandpaper. For the playing surface, a bevel is required on a light and a dark strip on one long side as well as on two dark and two light strips on one long and one short side respectively. Eight strips must be bevelled on one long side to make the border.

Step 2: Cut the strips
Now that you have created bevels, you can start cutting. Cut the strips with a saw, leaving precisely 7 cm of space between them. One parquet strip produces six squares of equal size, the seventh piece is cut-off due to the strength of the saw’s blade.

Step 3: Cut the border
Two strips are required for each side of the border. Therefore, two strips must be stuck together face-to-face four times. The four border sides should measure 56 cm in length on the inside and 70 cm on the outside. Now make a bevel cut to the ends at a 45° angle with a cross-cut saw according to the specified lengths. Important: ensure that the bevelled side lies inside the border!

Step 4: Attaching the border
Use wood glue to adhere the four border sides to the supporting board. Apply the glue sparingly. Use a bar clamp to fasten the border tightly to the board and let dry.

Step 5: Attaching the squares
Then glue each square in a chessboard pattern within the borders on the board. The individual pieces should be laid flush and pressed tightly. Again, apply glue sparingly. After all, the supporting board could bend if glue is applied across the entire surface. When laying the squares, ensure that the bevels are on the outside facing the border. Be particularly careful with the corner pieces as they must have a bevel on two sides.

Step 6: Attaching the panel
Finally, a panel is attached around the outside of the chessboard. The precious-wood top layer is then separated from the supporting layer of the parquet and cut into strips. It should be as wide as the chessboard is long (width = supporting board plus playing surface layer). Use the cross-cut saw to create a bevel cut at an edge with a 45° angle. Now all that’s left to do is glue the strips and press them with the bar clamp. The clamp can be removed when the glue is dry. The board is ready for action!


By the way, Lisa’s chessboard is a popular item. We now play chess at Hamberger during our lunch break. So her work has paid off.

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