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Play Checkers or Chess Outside with this Easy DIY Chess Board!

Hi Friends!!  If you’ve been following my blog, you know that we have been making our backyard more fun to hang out in.  One thing I wanted to do was have some outdoor games for anyone to play.  

I am working on making a Jenga set and will let you know when I finish!  A super easy and cheap thing I made was a DIY chess board.  

So I thought I’d share with you my DIY large checkerboard tutorial that I made from things I had on hand… so it was free… woo hoo!

DIY chess board

It ended up fitting perfectly on top of an end table I have outside already and we had some old plastic poker chips that ended up working great for chips!

There are other tutorials out there that can show you how to use painter’s tape to make it but I ended up using my Cricut.  ( I make everything with my beloved Cricut! If you don’t have one and want to know what it can do, check out my blog here!)

How to Make Cricut Chess Board

I used a spare piece of 1 inch thick wood that someone had given me.  Spare wood is always great to keep around for random projects!!  I sanded it down and painted it with cream chalk paint.

DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor
DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor

For the stencil, I used contact paper.  Oracal 631 or contact paper both would work fine for this.  

Vinyl sticks a little better so you are not having to push it down but it’s also more expensive so I decided to use some contact paper.

For the design, I googled a checkerboard pattern and uploaded it to Cricut Design Space.  My board was about 21×22 so I made the design about 19 inches long.  

I just sliced the checkerboard in half by putting a large rectangle exactly in middle, clicking both objects, and then hitting the slice button, so it would cut on a 12×24 mat evenly.  This is what my screen looked like.

DIY chess board
Cricut DIY checkerboard
DIY chess board

Once you cut out the two sections, weed out the empty space.  Apply transfer paper to one and place on dry board. Make sure it is centered.

Then I use a piece of painter’s tape to secure one side of transfer paper in place.  

DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor

When you lift up the other side and remove the backing paper, it will still be stuck to where you want it.  

Once you have one side on, line up the other side and again tape the transfer paper to one side, lift up the other half, remove the paper backing, and then gently lay the transfer tape with the vinyl/contact paper down on the board.

Scrape it all down and then remove the transfer tape.  If using contact paper, it might not remove too quickly.  I just held down a corner with one hand and peeled the transfer paper with the other.

DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor
DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor

Once it’s all on, apply a thin layer of the SAME color paint over all the edges.  This helps prevent bleeds of the top coat.

DIY chess board

Once that is dry, brush on the top coat.  I used a dark brown chalk paint.

DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor
DIY large checkerboard tutorial outdoor

Once that layer is dry, peel off the all the vinyl/contact paper.  I use a weeding tool but you can use a box cutter.  

Just try not to scrape the paint!  If you want your outside checkerboard rustic looking, you can sand off some edges.  Apply a top layer of poly or varnish and you’re done!

DIY chess board

Mine sits in between two comfy chairs inviting people to play!  (SShhhh…I know the checkers are on wrong, but for picture purposes, it stood out better this way!!:)  

While we’re using the table as a DIY chess board or checkerboard board, we can put our drinks and food on the coffee table storage bench that I just made!  Check out my tutorial here on how to make your own!

DIY chess board

What kind of outdoor games would you love to play??

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great day!

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  1. Love this! I want to just copy everything that you do!! 🙂 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to