Many of our chessboards use natural woods,
and we have received a number of inquiries into what a particular wood
is. With this in mind, we at Your Move Chess & Games, decided
to create this informative guide of the wood types used in the
chessboards we sell.
Common names can
create confusion, since many different tree species use the same common name. Ebony, for instance, is used as a common name for at least six
distinctly different species of tree, ranging in color from medium
deep black (Dalbergia
enough, the Dalbergiagenus
is usually associated with Rosewoods, and, not commonly, Ebonies. It is
because of this confusion we have included the scientific
and species) to help differentiate these woods with better accuracy.
Sit back and enjoy while we explore the
Wonderful Woods of Chessboards!
actually commonly known as European Field Maple (Acer
maple is indigenous to Europe, and although it is becoming rare in old
growth forms, it is available widely from managed forests throughout
Europe, particularly Spain. It is a fairly easy-to-work hardwood, that,
when finished, develops a wonderfully deep grained luster. It takes on
a 3-D appearance and its grain changes depending on lighting and the
angle of viewing. It has a warm honey coloring.
addition to Erable, the plain term
used in some of our products and this usually refers to several species
of American Maples used by some of our manufacturers. Most American
maples differ from European maples in that the coloring takes on a
slight reddish hue, sometimes pink. The most commonly used maple is the
hard maple Acer saccharumcommonly
known as Sugar Maple. It is the most abundant maple in the United
States. It is reported to be most prevalent in New England, but its
growth range extends from the extreme southeastern region of Manitoba
east to Nova Scotia, southward to North Carolina, and west to eastern
Kansas. The tree prefers moist soils of uplands and valleys and
sometimes is found in pure stands. This is the tree used to make "Maple
a favored wood used by some North American chess board manufacturers.
The most favored species is Populus
or Trembling aspen is considered to be the most widely distributed tree
in North America, deriving its name from its leaves which are inclined
to tremble in the slightest breeze. It is reported to grow from Alaska
to Newfoundland and southward to Virginia. It also occurs in the Rocky
Mountains, extending south to southern Arizona and northern New Mexico.
The wide sapwood is whitish to creamy in color, and merges gradually
into the heartwood. The grain is typically straight. The timber is
reported to convert readily into veneers. Select highly figured logs
are reported to be sliced into attractive veneers. It is a favorite
wood for chessboards due to high availability and its smooth finish.
common wood used for the white squares on chessboards isBirch(Betula
with the common name Silver birch. The
natural growth range of the species is reported to extend from central
Spain northwards, but it is primarily found in northern and eastern
Europe, the United Kingdom, and the Scandinavian region. The wood is
reported to have very little variation in color, and is almost white or
very light brown. There is no distinct difference between heartwood and
sapwood. The timber ofB.
reported to be very similar in characteristics to that ofB.
is a common alternative choice. Grain is typically straight. Grain
deviation, especially at base of boles, is reported to produce a
variety of figures which are sometimes used as names for the wood.
Figured Silver birch timber is reported to be highly sought after for
conversion into decorative veneers. The wood is reported to polish to
yield a good finish.
the most commonly used wood for chessboards is Walnut,
usually European Walnut (Juglans
European walnut is believed to have been introduced to Italy and
western Europe in general, and possibly to Britain, by the Romans from
Asia Minor. Most of the trees in Britain are reported to be planted in
gardens, and occasionally along hedgerows. European walnut is reported
to be very limited in availability, and can be obtained only in the
form of veneer. The heartwood varies in color but it typically has a
grayish-brown background with irregular dark streaks. The grain is
normally straight, but may occasionally be wavy. European walnut wood
has high natural durabilty. Polishing is reported to be excellent. The
wood is reported to have excellent staining qualities, but UV light
inhibitors are essential in finishes to prevent color from bleaching.
Some of our manufactures also use North American relatives to this
species, such as Black Walnut (Juglans
which has a darker color.
very popular wood for chessboards is Mahogany,
usually of the species (Khaya
species is reported to occur in all the timber producing countries on
the West Coast of Africa, and is found predominantly in the Ivory
Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria. It prefers to grow in the drier areas of its
range. The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) reports
that the species is a regular source of timber for export. The
heartwood varies from light to deep brown in color. Other sources
report that the heartwood is pink, then turns to a rich mahogany brown
later. Savanna-grown timber is usually darker than forest-grown timber.
The grain is reported to be interlocked, often irregular in direction,
and sometimes very wild. Material containing wild grain is generally
difficult to work to a smooth finish, so you will rarely see a dynamic
graining in chessboards made with this wood. The wood is reported to
have very satisfactory polishing characteristics. Timber produced byK.
reported to be more difficult to work than that byK.
another common substitute because it behaves better when being worked.
of our most beautiful chessboards is made from a wood commonly known as
It is also used in chess pieces and uses the other common
name of Rosewood (Dalbergia
Other common names are East Indian Rosewood, Malabar, and Bombay
Blackwood, to name a few. It is found in the dry deciduous forest
throughout the Indian peninsula. It grows in the sub-Himalayan tract
from Oudah eastwards to Sikkim, Bihar, Orissa, and throughout central
and southern India. Optimum growing conditions for this species are
reported to be near Bombay. The species is also planted as a shade tree
in coffee plantations and on roadsides. It is reported to be an
introduced species in Nigeria.Dalbergiais
the genus that generally denotes all Rosewood species worldwide. The
timber is reported to respond very well to peeling after a soaking
treatment, so it is used in veneers often. The wood is supposed to be
fairly difficult to carve and work by hand, which says a great deal for
the skill of our chessboard craftsman. The color range of this wood
goes from a rose to dark brown color with even darker lines. The darker
streaks impart an attractive figure to the wood. The crossed, narrowly
interlocked grain, with the combinations of darker streaks gives the
wood a very attractive appearance. This wood, with proper preparation,
also has excellent finishing and polishing characteristics. Palisander
is one of the most beautiful woods in the world!
opf the more unusual chessboards we sell is made from a wood called<Wenge (Millettia
It is the closest thing you will find to a true Ebony colored
board, although still more on the brown side. Pure black ebony is very
difficult, if not impossible, to make into a veneer, so Wenge is
commonly used to make a very dark chessboard. The natural growth range
of the species is reported to be the open forests of Zaire, Cameroon,
Gabon, the southern regions of Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is also
found in the swampy forests of the Congo region. The International
Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) reports that timber from this
species is produced regularly but it is exported only in low volumes.
Wenge is reported to be always in limited supply on the US market. Some
reasons for this are low yield from logs because of high waste from
"mulot" or "heavy worm" infestation, supply problems from sources in
Africa, and less demand on the market for darker colored woods. The
wood is reported to be used almost exclusively for architectural
purposes such as paneling and furniture pieces. Suppliers are reported
to to be offering Wenge more frequently in recent years. Prices are
reported to be often in the high range. The heartwood is dark brown,
mostly black, with fine, closely spaced, very dark veins and white
lines. The combination of white bands against the dark wood with black
streaks gives Wenge a very attractive appearance. The grain is fairly
straight to slightly roey. The appearance of the wood has been
described as expressive. The material is reported to be rather
difficult to glue because of the presence of resin cells. The timber is
described as tough and strong. The porous nature of the wood is
reported to make Wenge a rather difficult wood to slice. It requires
smooth cutting, and quality material is reported to be rather difficult
to obtain for chessboard manufacture. All these difficulties makes our
chessboards incredible examples of the woodworkers craft, since all of
our Wenge chessboards are of the best quality.
of our very special woods is Macassar.
The species is (Diospyros
making it a member of the true Ebony genus, with other common names
being Camagon, Golden Ebony, and Tendu. Macassar ebony is
reported to be rare and is one of the most expensive timbers on the
commercial market. Veneer is reported to be more available but is also
costly. The growth range of the species is reported to include the East
Indies, Philippine Islands, and the Celebes Islands of Indonesia. It
prefers well-drained, rocky soil, and is sometimes found near water but
never in swamps. The tree is reported to be generally small, and
attains an average height of about 50 feet (15 m), with a trunk
diameter of about 16 inches (41 cm). The heartwood is reported to be
black with wide reddish or reddish brown streaks. The combination of
colors is reported to make the wood an attractive choice for face
veneers. The grain is typically straight to roey. The timber is
reported to take an excellent finish. Luster is described as metallic.
The material is reported to be rather hard to work with hand tools.
Even though this wood is a member of the Ebony family, its color is
more a reddish milk-chocolate brown.
unusual wood used in our chessboards is commonly known as Ebony-Palisander(Tabebuia
This exotic wood is for someone looking for a very wavy, dynamically
grained chessboard. The species is reported to be distributed widely
from Colombia to Bolivia, the Guianas, and southeastern Brazil. It is
descrbed as ecologically diverse, especially in the Brazilian mata
atlantica. It is reported to occur mostly in more or less seasonal
forests on well-drained lateritic soils in the Amazons, but also grows
on richer or sandy soils and even into the cerrado in sub-Amazonian
Brazil. The tree is usually found near sea level up to an elevation of
3940 feet (1200 m). The heartwood is olive-brown in color, with lighter
or darker streaks. The pores themselves will often appear as fine
yellow dots, or as longitudinal lines. In general, the grain is
straight to very irregular, the former being used in our chessboards.
The material is reported to work with some difficulty, but can be
finished smoothly, except heavily interlocked material. Logs are
generally difficult to convert into veneers, they are reported to yield
very decorative veneers.
actually from the species of tree scientifically known as "Tectona
with other common names being Rosawa, Sagwan, and my favorite, Mai Sak
(please don't go there) to name a few. This wood exhibits a
beautiful light grain pattern. Most teak heartwood is highly variable
in terms of its color and grain patterns. This board exhibits what is
referred to as a fine, straight-grained and light colored Teak. It is
found primarily in the areas of Southeast Asia and India. Teak is a
little difficult to use in the making of chessboards. The boards'
surfaces are made using real-wood veneers, which are carefully fitted
and press-glued, to a substrate surface. Teak has a great deal of
greasy areas, making it very resistant to gluing. Because of this it is
rare to find a manufacturer making these types of boards. But, of
course, we found one, and they are able to make a chess board that is
durable, wonderfully crafted, and uses this amazingly beautiful wood to
our more economical chessboards you will see Sycamore being
utilized. The most common being of the species (Platanus
occidentalis). The growth range of Sycamore in North America reported to
include Ontario, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida,
Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland,
Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South
Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, Great Smoky
Mountain National Park, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and West Virginia.
The tree prefers wet soils of stream banks, flood plains, and edges of
lakes and swamps, and is reported to be a dominant species in mixed
forests. Supplies of Sycamore are reported to be plentiful. It is
readily available and is reported to be priced in the inexpensive
range. The heartwood is light to dark brown or reddish brown, or
flesh-brown in color. The grain is usually interlocked and irregular.
Quartersawn surfaces are reported to exhibit an attractive mottled
texture. Large crowded, brown rays are reported to contrast with white
wood tissue in background to add to the beauty of Sycamore. The wood is
fine and even textured. Polishing is reported to require some care for
good results. The wood has satisfactory staining qualities, and is
reported to respond well to all types of stains. Varnishing qualities
are reported to be satisfactory.
a fairly common wood. Our Elm chess boards are made from the root wood
of the species (Ulmus
or Wych Elm. This northern European species is reported to be
native to Great Britain, particularly to the western and northern
regions of the country. It is reported to be often found growing as a
wild tree in Highland glens or upland valleys, and is also cultivated
as an ornamental in parks. It is also common in other parts of Western
Europe. Our woods exhibit a dark brown color with intense curly grain.
The wood is harvest from the roots of the tree and this is what imparts
the dynamic graining (burl) and dark color. A truly luxurious wood!
To Wonderful Woods of Chess Pieces
our Chess Board Collection
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