One of the most common woods used for making wooden chess pieces is boxwood, it is dense, uniform and lends itself especially well to finely detailed or ornate carving (in this case chess pieces).
The use of boxwood for turnery has been recorded as far back as 2000 years ago. Its tight uniform texture makes boxwood an absolute dream to turn.
Boxwood defined: Boxwood has a fine, even texture with a natural luster. The grain tends to be straight or slightly irregular.