Wooden chess pieces abound in variety, style, shape, and wood type. The production of chess pieces made from wood has grown tremendously in the last half-century enabling one to search out a set of chessmen ideally suited to one's taste.
The primary producer of wooden chess pieces today is India, the birthplace of chess. Craftsmanship ranges from low cost, functional wood chess pieces to ultra fine masterpieces.
Most wood chess pieces have contrasting colors where the light player's pieces are an Indian boxwood and the dark pieces are wood types of various ranges of contrast from black to very light.
Here are some of the most common woods
Genuine ebony wood is a dense black wood, finely textured, with a very smooth finish when polished. It is highly valuable as an ornamental wood and generally the most desirable to chess players and collectors.
Ebonized (black stain) is similar in appearance to ebony wood, it gives the stark black and light wood contrast at a lower cost.
Rosewood (Bud Rosewood, Red Rosewood, Blood Rosewood) ranges from a very dark brown to a reddish brown offer great contrast and beautiful wood grains.
Shishamwood used for the Black player's pieces is the least contrasting and closest in color to the lighter side of chessmen. This wood is more plentiful and affordable.