The Idea

Playing Chinese Chess (Xiangqi) is a great way to spend a peaceful afternoon. I decided to make a custom set as a gift for Hanh, and tried to capture some of the character of the game, which has two halves separated by a river, with each side’s General (King) directing the battle from within a palace. In order to give the feeling of two armies battling across a river, I focused on adding some depth that reflected the terrain of the gameplay. There happened to be a laser cutting shop nearby where I learned how to use this cool process on plywood to create a board with some gave me my first chance to try laser cutting.


I loosely sketched the board in 3D to get the basics of the design figured out, and then drew up the precise cut patterns as a vector file for the laser cutter.


Laser Cutting

  • Cut from a single sheet of 1/4″ plywood
  • The 3 colors in the vector file represent the 3 speeds of the cutter: Green is slow for a thin line, Black is medium for a dark line, and Red is for cutting through the board.

Final Assembly

  • Board assembly was a simple case of applying wood glue, carefully aligning the outer edges, and putting weights on top until the glue set.
  • For the game pieces, I hand colored one set to create black, and left the others unchanged.
  • A little bit of hand sanding to smooth the corners, and done!