Cast Chess Set





Introduction: Cast Chess Set

About: I am an engineer and I like to build things. I am well versed in drafting and solid modeling and enjoy a nice challenging build.

This is a simple instruct able that details my endeavour to make a cast Chess set.

Step 1: Materials Needed

This was very easy project for me. I work at a foundry and had the tools I needed to make this project. The first item you need is a furnace, I have a 800# aluminum furnace at my disposal. Another item you need is a pattern to make the mold, I have that too. It has 4 pawns and 1 each of king, queen, bishop, brook, and knight; so you will have to make 4 molds to make a full playing set. You will need molding material of some sort, I used a no bake molding material (furan based binder and sand) but a green sand material provides a better surface finish. The last three items I used were a sanding belt to clean the parting lines, a lathe to turn a nice surface for the pieces to sit on, and a bead blaster to give it a nice finish.

Other items you'll need are some molten aluminum and bronze metals, 1300 f and 2100 f respectivley. And some ladles to pour the metal.

Step 2: Making the Molds

First step to making any mold is to clean out the mold. Spray it with some air to clean out the pattern.

Pour the sand into the drag portion of the pattern (bottom). Let it cure for 5 minutes, flip it over and tap it until the pattern comes loose leaving the bottom half of the mold. Repeat the process for the cope side (top).

Blow some air on both sides of the mold lightly to get rid of any loose sand or dirt. Align both sides of the mold and cover up the mold parting line to prevent metal from spilling out.

Step 3: Pouring the Metal

You can pour either aluminum or bronze, I did both. I made two molds for aluminum and two for bronze. Pour the aluminum at 1300F and the bronze at 2100f.

After pouring the metal, let the metal solidify and cool in the mold (1-3 hours). Once cool enough to handle, break it out of the mold and clean off the sand.

Step 4: Clean Up

Once the casting is out of the mold, use a band saw to cut the various pieces off.

Use a sanding wheel to clean up any flashing on the parting line. Go over twice, once with a sanding belt and again with scotchbright to clean the grinding marks and blend in.

I decided to use a lathe to give all my pieces a nice flat surface. 600 rpm did just nice for both materials. Once every piece has been turned, use a file to break the machined edge.

The last step is to to toss them in the Ol tumble blast for 1 minute to give it a nice surface finish.

Step 5: Finished Product

And it is done. You can also make these out of iron, but then the clean up practice would take a bit longer.

For those of you who don't have access to a foundry or a premade pattern, you could always design your own pattern and 3d print it. Plus there is a few good instructables out there on how to make a furnace. Molding material can be purchased online or improvised. Also, most foundries are not opposed to helping people out with projects if you ask them for materials or help as long as it is not in excess.



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    27 Discussions

    This is my favorite chess set design EVER.. So in case anyone else cares (i know it's just me)...

    This set is a reproduction of the 1961 Ganine Salon Edition Sculptured Gothic Chess Set (#1475)

    "Peter Ganine was the Sculpture of merit who designed the award winning Gothic Sculpted Chess Set (earlier versions were sold as Superba Masterpiece Chessmen). The Gothic and Superba chess sets came in two sizes with the Salon edition being the more common type, and the larger sized Tournament Edition being much rarer."

    This is definitely from the 1961 set because the queen's headdress is has a "V" shape. It can also be seen in several episodes of the original Star Trek series so that's kind of cool too... So yeah.. it's a pretty famous set..

    And I know... no one cares but me :)

    4 replies

    I own the set you cited. It's great.

    had no idea, that is pretty cool.

    Nice casting!

    I remember using a set like this when I was a child. They were made out of plastic, but I distinctly remember the look. That is interesting information rbookser has provided. Thanks to you and him for the great Instructable and memory.

    I don't have access to any of the stuff you used to make these but found the instructable truly amazing.


    how do we get the pattern for this love to cast this.

    I will consider making solid models of these guys as I find time, that way if some one would like to make a set in the future they may print them or do as they wish with the models.

    1 reply

    If you could post the 3d files to print them, i'd love to try to cast them. Best chess set ever!


    2 years ago

    am I the only one who saw the AD 2000 Strontium Dogs reference ?

    I like very much the idea and the items. Can you or are you interested in selling just the cast bronze and I do cutting, polishing,...all the cleaning proses? If you make the set how much it will be? I will wait for comments.

    Great job on the faces - very Old World looking. Very good writing on the instructable also!


    2 years ago

    I read that as 'ladies to pour the metal'!....

    Are there any special precautions that you have to take if working with aluminium, just wondered?

    I don't do all that stuff but it must be wonderful to have the skills!

    2 replies

    Aluminum likes to oxidize, so just make sure the humidity is low or it will pull hydrogen out of the air and cause the metal to tap gases, or voids in the finished product.

    ah that's interesting; I was thinking more in terms of any health risks to working with it, don't know how much connection there is with the Alzheimers thing. Certainly the body can store it but I think elements pair up and one thing can drive out another if there's excess..

    Nice set. Where did you obtain the patterns to make the moulds?

    1 reply

    The company I work at owns the pattern. I made them after hours.