Chess is one of the oldest games known to man. This battle of wits has stood the test of time and is still among the most popular games worldwide. Chess sets are made of various materials. However, wood is arguably the most common.
Those looking for a luxury wooden chess set should opt for the Heirloom Timeless Chess Set. On the other hand, the Chess Armory Wooden Chess Set is the best budget option. In terms of design, the Man Ray and Sydney Gruber “Steady Riser” Painted Chess Sets are the best choices.
Read on to learn more about the top 10 best wooden chess sets available on the market.
1. Weigel Chess Set – Consul Chess Pieces and Board – Best Overall Option
Board Size: 19 x 19 inch
Square Size: 1.85 x 1.85 inch
Materials: Beech and birch wood
We start off our list with the Weigel Chess Set. This set provides both form and function. It’s handmade out of farm-grown beech and birch wood, which gives it a premium aesthetic.
Additionally, it features hornbeam and sycamore chess pieces that add to the luxury feel. As a result, the Weigel Chess Set works great as a decorative piece at a highly attractive price.
Furthermore, this set is a joy to play on. It’s also convenient, having a foldable design with interior compartments for storing each piece.
The only knock on this product is that the pieces are rather light. However, this isn’t a concern considering the value for money you’re getting.
- Works well as a decorative piece or for playing.
- The foldable design makes it easy to store.
- Despite its large size, it’s light and portable.
- The internal lining of the board feels cheap.
2. Heirloom Timeless Chess Set – Best Luxury Option
Board Size: 21 x 21 inch
Square Size: 2 x 2 inch
Materials: Walnut and maple hardwood
The Heirloom Timeless Chess Set is a prime example of the sentiment “less is more.”
The design is simple yet elegant, using premium maple wood and walnut. Crafting one of these sets takes months due to the intricate attention to detail. The wood is locally sourced from Pennsylvania and is dried and cured to provide a smooth, luxurious finish.
The pieces come in white and dark brown, and you can immediately tell how well-crafted they are when you hold them.
- Simple yet elegant luxurious design.
- Hand-crafted using premium walnut and maple wood.
- The board is quite large, which can be inconvenient for storage and portability.
3. House of Staunton Championship Series Chess Set – Most Color Options
Board Size: 21 x 21 inch
Square Size: 2.25 x 2.25 inch
Materials: Chosen at the time of purchase
Do you want to play on the same board the pros use in major tournaments? Look no further than the House of Staunton Championship Series Chess Set.
The pieces are hand-carved using premium wood and have billiard cloth base pads to make the gameplay as smooth as possible.
Furthermore, the House of Staunton Championship Series Chess Set comes with an elegant slide-top box you can use to store the pieces.
Finally, this set gives you more wood type and color options than any other on this list. You can choose from six wood types, including golden rosewood and natural boxwood, and mahogany gilded and natural boxwood.
- An exact replica of the set used in tournaments
- Comes with premium hand-crafted pieces
- You can choose from six wood and color options
- Isn’t foldable, which makes it tricky to store
4. Man Ray Chess Set – Best Modern Design
Board Size: 17 x 17 inch
Square Size: 2 ⅛ x 2 ⅛ inch
If you’re looking for a chess set that’ll have your friends clamoring to know where you got it, then the Man Ray Chess Set is an excellent choice.
This set is unlike any you’ve seen before. The pieces are uniquely designed based on the work of the surrealist artist Man Ray. For example, the king is a pyramid, in reference to Ancient Egyptian symbology, and the knights are shaped like a violin head scroll.
Additionally, the pawns are as large as the other pieces to symbolize their growing importance in contemporary chess strategy.
Even if you never play a single game of chess on this set, it’s still worth the purchase due to its aesthetic appeal alone.
- Unique design that’ll turn heads.
- Premium beech wood board gives a premium feel.
- Works well as a decorative piece.
- It can take some time to get accustomed to the pieces.
5. House of Staunton Burnt Zagreb ‘59 Chess Set – Best Chess Pieces
Board Size: Chosen at the time of purchase
Square Size: Chosen at the time of purchase
Materials: Boxwood or rosewood
The pieces of the House of Staunton Burnt Zagreb ‘59 Chess Set are true works of art. They’re made of burnt boxwood that’s intricately carved to provide color contrast. This is the same design of the chess set used in the 1959 Candidate’s Match in Zagreb, Croatia.
Furthermore, this set’s pieces are weighted to give players a premium feel. They’re also augmented with billiard cloth on the bottom for ultimate smoothness.
Note that a standard purchase of this set only includes the pieces. If you want the accompanying board, you have to buy it separately.
- The pieces are crafted out of burnt and carved boxwood, giving them a beautiful aesthetic.
- You’ll own a piece of history, as this is a replica of the set used in the 1959 Candidate’s Match.
- The $300+ price tag only includes the pieces. The board is sold separately.
Board Size: 22.5 x 22.5 inch
Square Size: 2.25 x 2.25 inch
Materials: Rosewood or boxwood
At this price point, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than the House of Staunton Royale Chess Set.
It comes with a beautiful board that you can get in either rosewood or boxwood. The large, exquisitely designed board would also make a great centerpiece on your table.
Additionally, the pieces have a premium, weighted feel and are a true joy to play with.
- Gives players a sense of grandeur due to the pieces’ weight and feel.
- Excellent value for money at its price point.
- Crafted from high-quality rosewood or boxwood.
- The 22.5-inch board makes it inconvenient to store, especially since it isn’t foldable.
7. Chess Armory Wooden Chess Set – Best Budget Option
Board Size: 15 x 15 inch
Square Size: 1.625 x 1.625 inch
Materials: Inlaid walnut
Are you looking to buy a new wooden chess set without breaking the bank? If you are, the Chess Armory Wooden Chess Set is just what the doctor ordered. This set comes with a 15 x 15-inch inlaid walnut board and hand-crafted pieces at the lowest price of any entry on this list.
The board’s small size added to the foldable design makes this set highly convenient for storage and even travel. Furthermore, you can store the pieces inside the folded board. The interior is lined with felt and has straps to secure the pieces in place.
One issue with this set is the hinge at the board’s center, which can make the board uneven and affect gameplay.
- The small board and foldable design make the set compact and portable
- The board’s interior is felt-lined and has straps to store and secure the pieces
- You get a free online chess course when you purchase this set
- The low price shows in the pieces, which are a bit too light.
- The hinge on the board can make gameplay awkward at times.
8. JLP Sydney Gruber’s Painted Chess Set (Steady Riser) – Best Designer Option
Board Size: 19.5 x 19.5 inch
Square Size: 2.125 x 2.125 inch
Materials: Beech and birchwood board with hornbeam and cherry wood pieces
The JLP Sydney Gruber Painted Chess Set is arguably the most beautiful one on this list. There are several designs in the Sydney Gruber line. The Steady Riser design puts the artist’s talents on full display.
It features breathtaking hornbeam and cherry wood pieces painted in gold and blue. Additionally, the beech and birchwood board complements the pieces perfectly.
- The pieces have a unique artistic design.
- Works perfectly as an ornamental addition to your home.
- It’s more of a decorative piece than a set to play with.
9. Design Toscano Gods of Greek Mythology Chess Set – Best Decorative Option
Board Size: 21 x 21 inch
Square Size: 2 ⅛ x 2 ⅛ inch
Materials: Polyresin and hardwood
Like the JLP Sydney Gruber Painted Chess Set, the Design Toscano Gods of Greek Mythology Chess Set is also an excellent decorative option. The difference is that the latter comes at a much more affordable price.
What differentiates this set from any other is its pieces. They’re in the form of Greek gods, such as Zeus and Hera. Each god symbolizes a traditional chess piece.
Note that this set isn’t just for show, it’s a full chess set you can play with. It may take time to get used to the pieces though.
- A fresh take on the game of chess with pieces in the form of Greek Gods.
- Crafted from premium polyresin and hardwood.
- It’s a great addition to your home as decoration.
- There’s a learning curve before you can start playing with it.
10. House of Staunton Folding Wooden Magnetic Travel Chess Set – Best Travel Option
Board Size: 7 x 7 inch
Square Size: 0.75 x 0.75 inch
Materials: Sheesham and maple wood
The House of Staunton Folding Wooden Magnetic Travel Chess Set is perfect for chess enthusiasts who are always on the go.
This set consists of a 7-inch foldable board crafted from Sheesham and maple. The board is magnetic, and so are the pieces. This feature makes them convenient for play in a moving vehicle.
Furthermore, the set has interior foam inserts where you can store the pieces.
- The foldable board’s small size makes it highly portable.
- Crafted from premium maple wood.
- Has magnetic pieces that allow you to play while on the move.
- Playing on the 7-inch board can be cumbersome at times.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Wooden Chess Set
Here are some factors to look out for when choosing which wooden chess set to buy:
Type of Wood Used
The first factor to consider is the type of wood the chess board and pieces are made of.
Your choice should be based on your budget.
If you’re looking for a luxury chess set and are willing to pay top dollar, you should go for a rosewood or boxwood set.
On the other hand, those searching for a budget-friendly set should explore cheaper options, such as walnut.
Portability is another consideration to keep in mind.
If you’re a chess aficionado who’s constantly on the move, you want a convenient chess set for travel. A chess set’s portability depends on several features. First and foremost, the smaller the chess board, the easier it’ll be to pack.
Additionally, you should look for foldable chess sets that have built-in compartments to store the pieces.
Playable vs. Decorative
Finally, you should factor in the way you intend to use your chess set.
Some people buy chess sets purely for decorative purposes, while others want a set that gives a pleasant playing experience.
If you’re buying a chess set for aesthetics, go for a set with a beautiful design and unique pieces, such as the Man Ray Chess Set. In contrast, such sets aren’t ideal for play because the pieces aren’t easily identifiable.
If you’re in the market for a new wooden chess set, there are many options to choose from. The best choice for you depends on your budget and how you intend to use the set.
Those searching for a high-end set should go for the JLP Sydney Gruber’s Painted Chess Set (Steady Riser) or the Heirloom Timeless Chess Set.