How to Build a Go Board

But first, what is “Go”?

“Go” aka Wei-Qi, is the oldest board game still played in its original form today. Fully-grasping the rules and reaching intermediate level of play can take 6-12 months or more. Becoming an actual master of Go can take a lifetime. So, without going into too much detail, here is some basic information about Go:

  • 2 player game
  • Turn-based
  • Goal: To acquire more ‘territory’ than your opponent
  • Similar strategic thought to Chess and Risk but considered the most complex board game
  • Massive influence in China, Japan, Korea and more recently; Europe & South America
  • Gradually gaining popularity in U.S.; however, still unknown to majorities

Fun Fact: Professional Go players can earn over one million USD per year.

5 Reasons you should play Go

  1. Go actively stimulates both the right and left sides of the brain.
  2. Go is the second most played game in the world (behind Chess).
  3. It has a serious positive impact on mental development, specifically in reasoning.
  4. Many consider the skills learned and developed to be applicable to all areas of life.
  5. Go is extremely fun J

Interested now? Let’s get started.

Estimated budget: ~$40

David made a very in-depth guide with clear instructions, which I used when making my own.  Here are the necessary supplies you’ll need:

  • Medium-density fiberboard. 18 x 18 inches
  • Polyurethane
  • Foam brushes
  • Sandpaper
  • T-Square, Ruler, and some form of a stencil with a tiny circle
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Fine-point and ultra-fine-point permanent markers
  • Spring Clamps
  • A sandwich, with your preference of contents
  • A little patience and a bit of focus
  • Oh, and don’t forget, you’ll need to pick up some playing stones. Shop around online as these are more preference based. Plastic ones are cheaper while Yunzi can get a bit pricey but have an amazing feel. If you want to make everything from scratch, learn how to make your own stones here.

These are the necessary supplies; however, if you have experience in the woodwork department, feel free to experiment with other tools.

Step 1: Sanding & Polyurethane

sanding        &         polyurthane

Take the time to carefully sand your board(s), making sure all edges lose their sharpness. Apply your first coat of polyurethane with a foam brush and let it dry for 24hrs.

Step 2: Drawing & Markups

go boards

This step involves a lot of focus, as making a 19×19 grid completely straight can be challenging. Use the spring clamps to hold down the ruler to ensure straight lines. Make the grid in pencil first, then go over with your fine-point permanent marker. Use the ultra-fine point for making the Star points on the appropriate intersections.

Consult this for reference:


Step 3: 2nd Polyurethane 2nd Coat & Let it Dry

go boards & go board

Once your markings have dried, apply a 2nd coat of polyurethane and let it dry for another 24 hrs. As polyurethane can be tricky and smelly to work with, make sure you have some ventilation/air flow while they dry.

(Finished product – “ko” is a Go term for a particular situation that often arises during a game of Go)

Good luck!

Helpful Links

Making Your Own Equipment – Sensei’s Library is one of the best resources out there for Go players. You’ll learn a lot more than just building Go boards if you click around.

Cool Video on making of a Shogi Board – basically the same as a Go board.



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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

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