How to Make a DIY Memory Chess Game

DIY memory chess game

Playing memory games is full of fun for people of all age groups. Not only do these games provide you with a brain gym, but they also help you to socialize. There are various types of memory games available out there, such as memory card games, concentration games, memory testing games, memory word games, and much more. One of the games I thought would be fun to play with kids is a memory chess game. So I made my own DIY memory chess game board with 40 chess pieces. 

Below are instructions on how to make this board game using a Dowelmax Jig. You could also download the PDF and print the chessboard template.

Benefits of Playing Memory Games

Playing memory games on a regular basis can easily enhance brain skills like attention level, concentration, focus, and intellectual skills, along with the reading and writing part of it. Properly exercising your brain helps to reduce memory loss. Memory games increase short memory, and improve creativity, vocabulary, and much more. There are so many benefits from these simple memory games for all ages. So start playing and gain the benefits of playing this memory game.

Memory Chess Game Rules

  • Place the chess pieces randomly on the chessboard.
  • Throw the dice and find out which color to look for.
  • Pick a chess piece from the board, if you picked the correct color, you keep the chess piece and you go again until you pick the wrong chess piece color.
  • If you picked the wrong color, place the chesspiece back on the board and have the next player roll the dice. 
  • Try to memorize the colors of the chess pieces on the board so that when your turn comes around, you could pick the right color.
  • The person with the most chest pieces wins the game.

You might also be interested in DIY Triangle Peg Game and DIY Mancala Board Game.

DIY memory chess game

Time to Complete

3 hours

Total Cost


Skill Level


Memory Chess Game PDF


This PDF download includes Cut Diagrams, a List of Supplies, and 3D illustrations with detailed steps to build the project. Measurements are in imperial and not metric. Does NOT include SketchUp/CAD files.

The plans are embedded on the webpage for free, but if you would like to support the website, you can pay a small fee to purchase the printable PDFs.

Thank you for your support!

Memory Chess Game

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Tools for this project

Material List

Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size.  See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.


DIY memory chess game

Step 1 – Cut 12” Long 2×12 Board

This DIY memory chess game is made from a 2×12 construction lumber that is trimmed to a 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ board. Most of these games use a 7″ round boards, but to make things simple, I made it square. It’s much simpler to cut a square board on the table saw instead of making it round.

Take 2×12 board, that’s at least 12” long and rip two sides of the board on the table saw so that they are perfectly squared. The other two sides will be trimmed later to the correct size. 

wood board

Step 2 – Drill a 3/8 Hole at the Top Left Corner

Drilling the holes in the board could be done in several different ways. You could just use a drill with a 3/8 drill bit, but it will be hard to make the holes straight and equal distances from each other. Since the wood has soft and hard spots, the drill bit might shift slightly when you drill the hole making the distance from hole to hole not consistent. 

The best option is to use a drill press. Using a drill press with a sharp drill bit will drill the holes perfectly. 

At the time of this project, I didn’t have a drill press, so I used a Dowelmax Jig. Dowelmax jig is used for joining wood boards together with wood glue and dowels. You clamp the jig to the board and drill a 3/8″ hole for inserting the dowel. The Dowel jig holds the drill bit straight and allows you to drill a perfectly straight hole. So I used this jig as an alternate to the drill press. 

Measure and pencil mark 1 5/16″ from the top of the board and 1 5/16” from the left side. Align and clamp the Dowelmax jig so that the hole will be drilled in the center of the pencil mark. Drill the first hole ¾” deep with a 3/8 drill bit.

measuring and marking on 2x12 board
clamping dowelmax jig

Step 3 – Drill a Row of 3/8” Holes at the Top of the Chess Board

Since the first hole is drilled the rest of the holes are easier to drill. Place the pin inside the Dowelmax where the first hole is drilled. Then skip one steel guide and drill in the second Dowelmax steel guide. Continue moving the jig along the top of the board drilling every other steel guide. Drill 7 holes along the top side of the board. The distance from center to center of a hole should be 1 5/16″.

Step 4 – Drill a Column of 3/8” Holes at the Left Side of the Chess Board

Now move the Dowelmax jig to the left side of the board and insert the pin into the first hole again. Repeat the process by drilling 7 holes on the left side.

drilling holes for DIY memory chess game
drilling holes for DIY memory chess game

Step 5 – Drill Second Row of 3/8″ Holes

For the second row of holes, add a 1 5/8″ spacer into the Dowelmax jig and insert a pin in the second hole. Adjust the knobs so that the Dowelmax is parallel with the edge of the board. Finish drilling the second row of holes on the top and left side

inserting the pin for dowelmax jig

Step 6 – Trim Board Using Table Saw

Measure the distance from the left side edge of the board to the first hole. Then transfer that measurement from the 7th hole to where the right side edge should be. Using a table saw cut off the extra wood on the right side. Do the same thing on the bottom. Now you should have a perfectly squared 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ board with top and left holes drilled. 

using table saw to cut DIY memory chess game

Step 7 – Drill the Remaining Holes on the Chess Board

Drill the remaining holes on the right and the bottom sides following the same procedure as described in the previous steps. 

DIY memory chess game
drilling holes for DIY memory chess game

Step 8 – Trim Chess Board Edges at 45 Degrees

Rotate the table saw blade to 45 degrees and trim off 3/4″ on all four sides of the board. Trimming the edges is not necessary, but I think it looks much better with trimmed edges. After the edges are trimmed, use a random orbital sander to sand the board on the front and back.

DIY memory chess game
trimming DIY memory chess game board with a table saw
DIY memory chess game
using random orbital sander for DIY memory chess game

Step 9 – Make Chess Pieces

Now the chess pieces are made from a 3/8″ fluted wooden dowel pin that is glue and inserted into a 3/4″ dowel rod. First, take a ¾” wooden dowel rod and cut 40 pieces to 1 1/2″ in length with a miter saw. Then take one 3/4″ dowel piece and clamp it inside the Dowelmax jig and drill a 3/8” hole in the center of the ¾” dowel. Repeat the step until all of the ¾” dowels have 3/8” holes drilled in them. 

Next, take a 3/4″ wooden dowel rod, drop a small amount of glue inside a hole and insert a 3/8″ dowel pin. You could purchase these 3/8” dowels pins on Amazon that are already pre-cut to 1 1/2” in length. Do this for all 40 chess pieces. 

DIY memory chess game dowels
clamping chess piece in dowelmax jig
drilling chess piece for DIY memory chess game
chess piece for DIY memory chess game
applying wood glue for the chess piece
inserting dowel into chess piece

Step 10 – Make a Rolling Dice

Take a small piece of 1×4 board and using a table saw cut a ¾”x ¾” cube as a rolling dice.


Step 11 – Paint Chess Pieces and Rolling Dice

Before painting the chess pieces, make sure that these chess pieces can be easily inserted into the holes on the board. If the chess pieces are too tight, you could sand them down a little to fit easily. If you leave the 3/8” dowel exposed for a few weeks, they will slightly shrink in size, and you may not need to sand them. 

The rolling dice has six sides, so you need to have six different colors. Each side will have a different color. Use a small art paintbrush and acrylic paint to paint rolling dice

Similar to the rolling dice, take a small art paintbrush and paint only the 3/8” dowel pin of the chess piece. When you place the chess piece on the board, you should not see the color of the 3/8” dowel pin. Since there are a total of 40 chess pieces, you’ll need to paint 7 pieces of each color (two colors will have only 6 chess pieces) and the dice. These are the colors I painted my chess pieces:

  • 6- green chess pieces
  • 6- yellow chess pieces
  • 7- red chess pieces
  • 7- blue chess pieces
  • 7- black chess pieces
  • 7- white chess pieces

You’re done with a DIY memory chessboard game. Have fun!

DIY memory chess game
paining chess piece for DIY memory chess game
DIY memory chess game
DIY memory chess game

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