Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces

This chalkboard game tray will help your kids get through long road trips and rainy summer days. The checkerboard is perfect for games of checkers or chess, which seems like an obvious use. I’ll be frank, I can only play the same board game so many times before I get bored. This tray has a secret, it’s sealed with Mod Podge Clear Chalkboard Topcoat, making it double for drawing games. The game piece backs are also chalkboards, for made up games of your choosing. Possible games are chess, checkers, connect four, dot-to-dot, and tic-tac-toe. This is sure to keep the kids busy…for at least an hour.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces header


Plaid Crafts provided the Mod Podge formulas and detail paint brush for this project.

  • Walnut Hollow Serving Tray
  • Walnut Hollow Hot Stamps Letters Set – You’ll need the B, H, K, P, Q, and R
  • Walnut Hollow Creative Versa-Tool
  • 36 – 2″ Dowel rod rounds cut 1/2″ thickness
  • Acrylic paint – I used turquoise, royal blue, bright green, and grass green
  • Mod Podge Ultra Matte Chalk Finish
  • Mod Podge Clear Chalkboard Topcoat
  • Chalk – You want real chalk sticks, not the markers or paint
  • Saw
  • Medium and fine grit sandpaper
  • Pliers
  • Ceramic plate
  • Clear grid ruler
  • White pencil
  • Medium flat paint brush
  • Detail paint brush
  • Paper plate
  • Wax paper
  • Paper towel


Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces Collage


1) My dad has a table saw and was willing to cut my 1″ dowel rod into 1/4″ pieces for me. The other option is to mark the dowel rod in 1/4″ segments, and use a hand saw to cut the pieces. My dad is the reason I know how to use a hand saw…that or woodshop…but his power saw is faster than my hand saw. Wear goggles and a dust mask, to prevent sawdust from entering your body.

2) I’m good at delegating, so I had my 12 year old daughter sand the pieces. Lay the sandpaper down on your work surface. Rub each piece across it, until the front and back are very smooth. Start with medium grit, and finish with fine grit.

3) Rip off a piece of fine grit sandpaper. Smoothly sand the Walnut Hollow serving tray.

4) Use a damp paper towel to remove any sawdust from the wood pieces. Let the wood dry completely.

5) Divide the wood circles and pair them with a Hot Stamp letter as follows. K = 2, Q = 2, R = 4, B = 2, H = 4, and P = 16. The H stands for “Horse” as that’s the symbol for a knight. Using K for different pieces would be too confusing. This was my solution.

6) While the Creative Versa-Tool is cool, screw in one of the letters. Turn the tool up to the red (hottest) setting. Rest the tool on the metal holder, letting it warm up fully. This might take a couple minutes. You want it fully heated for the best burn.

7) Once it’s heated, center the letter on one wood circle. Press the letter flat down onto the wood circle. You’ll see the wood turn black from the heat, where the tool is touching. Rock the letter gently to the sides, to make sure the letter is crisply burned. Lift the letter up, and you’ll see the woodburned impression. If it’s not fully burned, you can carefully line up the letter and impression to deepen the burn. Repeat for all the circles that coordinate with your selected letter.

8) Turn the tool off, and let it cool down for a few minutes on the metal rest. Don’t touch the metal, or you’ll burn yourself. After the tool has cooled down for a few minutes, use the pliers to gently unscrew the letter from the tool. Lay the letter down on a ceramic or plate to cool completely. Use the pliers to gently screw in the next letter. Turn the tool back to the red setting and let it warm up completely again.

REPEAT STEPS 7 & 8 for all the circles and letters. You’ll have 4 blank wood circles. This is correct. After you’ve finished wood burning, turn the tool off and let it completely cool before unscrewing the letter and storing them.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces 1

9) Split the wood circles into two piles. There should be 2 blank, 1 K, 1 Q, 2 R, 1 B, 2 H, and 8 P in each pile.

10) Spread a piece of wax paper onto your work surface. Squeeze some turquoise and royal blue paint onto the paper plate. One set of pieces will be turquoise and the other will be royal blue. Using the detail paint brush, carefully paint around the letters. Let them dry. Paint the sides and backs. The blank pieces are easier to paint. Wash and dry your brush, and paint the other set royal blue. Let the pieces dry completely on the wax paper. Wash and dry your brush.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces 2

11) Back to the tray. Paint the outside turquoise, the top edge, grass green, the inner sides royal blue, and the flat tray turquoise. I used the flat paint brush for most of the painting. The detail brush was helpful to paint where the colors met. Let the 1st coat dry. Repeat with a 2nd coat if needed. Wash and dry your brushes in between each color and when you finish this step.

12) You will need a grid 8 x 8 squares. I divided the tray interior width into 8, which calculated to each square needing to be 1 1/4″. Using the ruler and white pencil, mark along the long sides in 1 1/4″ segments. Draw lines across the tray, matching your marks. Along the 1st and last lines, mark 1 1/4″ segments. Draw lines, matching up those marks. If your grid isn’t perfect, that’s ok. It’s rustic, right? My dad said that was an acceptable term for my grid. I continued three of my vertical lines, up to evenly segment the remaining section. About 1″ from the end, draw a horizontal line.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces 3

13) Using the detail brush and grass green paint, outline the inner edge of every other square, making sure to stagger the rows. Use the flat paint brush to fill in those squares. Let dry and repeat with a 2nd coat. Let dry completely. While you have the grass green paint out, paint over the white pencil marks around the top. Wash and dry your brush.

14) Using the royal blue paint and detail brush, follow the 4 lines in the non-grid section. This will be a scoreboard area. I made it 4 sections, in case anyone comes up with a game that has 4 players. A game of dot-to-dot is possible at the intersections. Let dry completely. Wash and dry your brush.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces 4

15) Time to seal everything! With the flat paint brush and Mod Podge Ultra Matte Chalk Finish, paint an even layer on the tray sides and top edge. Paint an even layer on the letter pieces tops and sides, but not the blank pieces. Let this completely dry, which will take several minutes. The sealed surface should be matte and very smooth. You can add a 2nd layer if desired. Wash and dry your brush.

16) With the Mod Podge Chalkboard Topcoat and flat paint brush, seal the flat tray inside. This is where you painted the grid and scoreboard. Seal the backs of the letter pieces and blank pieces. Let the 1st layer dry completely, which will take several minutes. You’ll know it’s completely dry when it’s gone from white to shiny to matte. Add a 2nd layer and let that dry completely. Wash and dry your brush.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces 5

17) On everything that was sealed with Mod Podge Chalkboard Topcoat, rub a piece of white chalk sideway. Use a dry paper towel to wipe the chalk away, working it into the wood. This will prime the chalkboard for use.

Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces 6


While I used the Walnut Hollow Hot Stamps Letters Set to wood burn my game pieces, you can use a mini universal point to wood burn your own designs, or paint them. I chose colors that I’ve been into lately. You can choose a different color palette. I recommend keeping the pieces and checkerboard dark and light colors, to coordinate with the traditional checkerboard. It makes gameplay much easier.

ABBY DAVISAbby has been an artist and crafter since she was a young child. She has been sewing and creating for 30 years. She has a degree in Fashion Design. She started her blog, Crafty Lady Abby in 2009, as a way of documenting her creations and motivating herself. She creates tutorials to share her creative knowledge and empower others to be creative.

One thought on “Chalkboard Checkerboard Game Tray and Pieces

  1. Pingback: Modern Mirror Tray Wall Decor | walnuthollowcrafts

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