I just finished my first goban, I'll describe the process I followed with a couple of pictures I took along the way.
I started with a big piece of quarter-sawn 8/4 Basswood which I cut down to 3 equal pieces which would laminate together to make a 17"x18" board.
1. After the pieces were laminated and the glue dried, I sanded down all 6 sides with 180 grit sandpaper.
2. On the playing surface and sides, I continued to sand down with each grit up to 400 grit. At this point, the board felt silky smooth. Following is the picture of the board at this point.
Following is a picture of the board, my test piece, the ruler, Koh-I-Noor Ultradraw India Ink, and a Koh-I-Noor technical pen with a 3.5 point(1mm) that I used to apply the lines.
Finally, here are the steps I took to finish the board:
3. Clean the board using a damp cloth to pick up any saw dust and residue. Let the board dry completely.
4. I applied a thin layer of polyurethane (clear, water based, satin finish) to the face of the board to prevent the lines from bleeding into the grain of the wood. Paint this on, or spray it on, following the grain of the wood.
3. After the base coat of polyurethane dries, lightly sand it with 400 grit to smooth the face. At this point, I used a mechanical pencil to draw the corners and a mark at each line of a standard grid. It's important to have marks for the lines on all 4 sides of the board so you can line them up with the straight-edge and get squared and uniform lines.
4. Time to draw the lines! I'm using a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph technical pen, using a 3.5 point (1mm) and black india ink (ultradraw, quick drying, waterproof). Using an 18" metal straight-edge (non-slip, with cork on the bottom which lifts the ruler off of the board to prevent the ink from smearing from the ruler), I drew the vertical and horizontal border lines and let them dry for a few minutes. I then proceeded to draw all of the horizontal lines and then all of the vertical lines. After the first set of lines are dry (only took me a minute or two to dry), I then went back over spots where the ink was thin and not a rich black 1mm line.
5. After the lines are complete, I masked off the sides with tape and sprayed a layer of polyurethane (same water based, clear, satin finish) over the lines. I found it to be important using spray polyurethane because the brushed on coat would smear the lines on my test piece. Remove the masking tape immediately so the board can dry without the tape on it.
6. I let the final coat of polyurethane dry over night. The next morning, I then very lightly sanded the final coat with 400 grit to take off any spots that may have dried a little rough.
7. The final step was to put a finishing coat on the board, I'm using standard SC Johnson paste wax. Put a very light coat of wax on the board, rubbing with the grain of the wood and on the sides and ends of the board. It's cold this time of year so it took 20 minutes or more for the wax to nearly dry. After the wax was almost entirely dry it's time to put some elbow grease into it.. I was using a soft piece of lint-free cotton and buffed the top and sides of the board until the lines and wood grain looked nice and clear.
8. As a finishing touch, I applied a couple thin cork adhesive pads on the bottom corners. I think I will replace these with slightly thicker pads as to raise the board off of the table by 5mm or 6mm which will help the sound of a stone resonate a bit louder.
The first finish I attempted with this board was rather unsuccessful but I learned a few things in the process.
1. I applied a coat of wax on the board then applied the lines, this worked well but I could not apply another coat ontop of the lines without smearing them. In my case, it was because the wax was paste and had some sort of solvents which ate into the ink.
2. I didn't want to trash this wood, since it's my first shot at a board anyway.. so I decided to sand off the lines and finish. This was ugly, and I don't know how else to do it, but I got out some paint stripper and the ink ended up smearing all over the board.. after a bit of elbow grease and sweat, I got the board totally sanded down and looking clean. (I vow to do everything in my power to avoid having to sand off an existing finish in the future)