A few Christmases ago I made some chess boards as presents. I worked at an architectural mill at the time, so I was able to use the scrap materials and equipment for free. It was great. I thought I would write up a little tutorial on how I made the chess boards because I came up with this method all on my own and I think it was pretty clever of me.
First, find a bunch of scrap pieces of two different types of wood. I liked using mahogany and maple. Glue the pieces together to make to big sheets.
Even out the ends if you want, and then cut the sheets into 5 equal width strips.
Then glue them together alternating colors.
After it is glued, turn the board 90° cut it up into 8 equal strips.
Then shift the pieces by one square and glue it up again.
Use saw to cut off the overhanging pieces and a router or joiner to smooth off the edges. Now you can stick some pencil molding or use a router to make the edges all nice.
And there you go! I tried to carve chess pieces too...but those turned out SO BAD. So I would recommend just stealing some pieces from a board you have lying around the house.