DIY Chess End Table

By Kate Riley June 22, 2010

For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to create a chess/checkerboard table for our own family room, so how excited was I to see one of my cousins actually take on this project herself !  I’m lucky to be Stephanie’s cousin by marriage, and I just love how with a little ingenuity, she transformed someone else’s discarded end table into a chess game table with two types of stain and imagination !  

The best part is, this was her first DIY project.  Bravo Stephanie ! 

  time to play

Here is Stephanie’s DIY story:

“I found this table no one wanted next to a dumpster and I thought it would be fun to transform it into a chess/checkerboard table, an idea inspired by a table at my local coffee shop. 

The table had a lot of water marks, the finish was peeling, and one panel of the table was uneven.  So, a friend and I brought it home and set to work to transform it. 


steph before 1


We sanded the table top and used steel wool to get into the crevices on the side.  Tinted wood filler was used for any nicks or scratches.



Once a damp cloth was used to wipe down the entire table, we drew all the squares on the table using L-square rulers. Our table had 2" squares and a 1.75" border.

 lines drawn

We chose two types of stain, a natural and a darker stain (Jacobean) and applied the stain with small paint brushes.


The lighter stain was runnier than the dark, so it seeped into the wood grain. However, the darker stain was thicker and able to cover where the lighter stain had bled beyond the lines. 



Once the stain was dry, I then sprayed the entire table with a clear satin wood finish.   

Finally, I ordered over-sized wooden chess pieces online for less than $40 from Wholesale Chess


time to play

Since this is my first DIY project, I’m really very happy with the result !”


Didn’t Stephanie do an amazing job?  And it’s her first DIY project !   I love this idea of a game table in a family room  – a chance to take a break between commercials and challenge friends and family members to a sporting contest !

If you want to attempt something similar for your own home, you’re certainly not limited to stain.  Think about all of the fun paint colors that could be use to transform any end table or coffee table into game table !   Nicely done Stephanie ! 

What creative uses or plans do you have to transform a discarded item ?  Do share ! 




  1. How neat! I’ve been trying to find some help on how to do a table like this for my chess-loving hubster, but could never find anything. This is so fantastic!

    Great job on it too. It looks amazing!

  2. I have always wanted a “game table” in my living room where we could play board games instead of on the floor and this is how I wanted to do the top. Now I am more inspired to find the perfect table.

  3. Very proud of Stephanie! I told her just recently that we have so many talented women in this family and its so true! I will be seeing it in person in about a month and maybe a game of chess. She did an outstanding job on staining this table as I know it is hard to keep them from running into each other especially when your using two different colors. Keep us the good work Kate your blog site is awesome I really enjoy it!

  4. Great job! I’ve been wanting to make an outdoor one using tiles.

  5. Beautiful! What an awesome Father’s Day gift that could have been! (Or anyone’s gift really!)

  6. Absolutely fantastic! I don’t know how to play chess but I want this table so bad; I can always learn I suppose. :)

  7. Looks awesome! When you say you “sprayed it with a Clear Satin Wood Finish”… this bought at an AC MOORE or at a paint store? Haven’t had luck with “SPRAY” clear finishes since it sprays very uneven.

  8. I love it! What a fun addition to a media or game room. We are moving soon and I am going to bookmark this post in hopes I can create a chess table of my own sometime soon!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Awesome! I actually did the same thing back in college with little table I found curbside :) The funny thing is, I’m actually selling the little table now on craigslist because we’re moving.

    I used black and white paint and sponged the checkerboard pattern onto the table top. The only problem is, I don’t play chess, and so I guessed as to the amount of rows…. oops! There’s supposed to be 8, not 10 :)

  10. travelbugmom- Yes, it was a spray from the store. We used Deft Clear Wood Finish (Satin). I’m not sure if certain brands spray differently, but I suppose the key is to spray multiple thin coats, keep your distance and continue moving as you spray.

  11. Your table came out fabulous! I couldn’t find a suitable table to use, but your post inspired us to make a chess board with stained squares. Thanks so much for this post!

  12. Thank you so much for the post. I will be making my lover one for Father’s Day. Excellent job. I hope if I use painter’s tape when I paint the stain that will prevent the stain from running. Can’t wait to see the results. Again, thank you and I LOVE YOUR project:)’s

  13. Thank you so much for posting your post. I did it! I made a Father’s Day Gift for my lover from an old end table that someone left for the trash and turned into a treasure. I will present the gift to him over dinner and a concert today. Can’t wait to see the look on his face. Thank you so much again for the idea.

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)