Sheesham is a very common wood used in the making of chess sets. It's a medium brown colour and is reasonably dense. When polished or waxed it can develop very attractive figuring and grain. It is a stable wood that can be used to make chess pieces, chess boards and folding chess sets. It's not a hugely expensive wood and is available in large quantities. Some chess companies refer to his wood as "Golden Rosewood" which is actually quite confusing.
Boxwood is a light coloured wood that is used to make chess pieces and squares on chess boards. It is seldom used to make whole chessboards however. It is a dense wood that is robust and ages nicely. Boxwood comes in various grades and can be seen on chess sets at opposite ends of the price and quality scale. It comes from a tree that is aptly named the "Boxwood Tree".
Ebonised Boxwood is a stained version of Boxwood. Because Boxwood is cheaper than Ebony it is used as an alternative to real Ebony. It is commonly used to make chess pieces, the black side obviously; a very convincing attempt at producing an Ebony effect. Makes for attractive deep black chess pieces.
Walnut is a wood rich in red, pruple and yellow tones and is mostly used for borders and squares on chess boards. An incredibly polpular wood for aesthetic construction and furniture, it has a tight grain with beautiful figure variation. It is a medium, dense wood that is robust thus making is so suitable for chess boards. There are various versions of Walnut wood, American Walnut being the most popular.
Ebony is classed as a luxury wood. Considered by many to be the black wood. It is in fact a chemical process that makes it completely black. In its natural state it is a dark brown with light streaks within the grain. This does actually look very attractive and indeed some chess boards are made using semi treated ebony to retain this effect. Commonly used in luxury chess pieces, Ebony is a fine, hard wood. Revered by musicians for its tonal qualities, it is used extensively in high-end guitars and violins.
Rosewood is another luxury wood. Another favourite of musical instrument makers, it has found its way onto numbers of guitar fingerboards to excellent effect. Rosewood is a rich dark wood with a slightly red tinge to it. It is used in the production of medium to high-end chess pieces and is also found in some chess boards and folding sets.
Bud Rosewood is wood that has been sourced from the base of the Rosewood tree. It is considered to be of much higher quality than normal rosewood. Expect to find Bud Rosewood in high-end chess pieces.
Palisander is a type of Rosewood that is used primarily for chess boards and cases. Usually, slightly lighter in tone than classic Indian Rosewood, it retains the dense grain that is slightly more uniform in direction. Palisander comes in various tones of deep red and can be seen on chess sets at opposite ends of the price and quality scale.
Redwood is similar to Rosewood in many ways. It has an even stronger red tint to its grain and has the added benefit of being more durable than Rosewood. Much confusion lingers thanks to an adulteration of the term Redwood. Some will pass off Rosewood as Redwood. They are in fact different woods from a different tree. Redwood is seldom used to make chess boards and cabinets but is often used to make high quality chess pieces.
Maple is a hard light wood that in some cases can be almost white. Often used to create the white squares of a chess board, its light colour contrasts well with a deep black Ebony to create a striking chess board. A stable wood that is available in abundance in certain parts of the world. It's rare to see chess pieces made from Maple, mainly due to the popularity of Boxwood.
Erable is a variety of Maple, in fact 'erable' means 'Maple' in French. Erable is light in colour and has a rich quilted grain which lends itself to being stained in a variety of colours. Our bold coloured chess boards in green, blue, grey, cocoa and red are all made from erable wood.
White wood is a light coloured wood similar to pine. It is lightweight and quite soft compared to the other woods described here. It is not dense or hard enough to turn into chess pieces. It is however used to form the frames of folding chess cabinets on lower priced sets.