I've always had a soft side towards chess sets.  I've never been particularly good at chess (I know how the pieces move and I know when I'm about to be destroyed, but that's about it).  I have, however, always enjoyed the artistry and design possibilities inherit in a good chess set.  It was The Shawshank Redemption that made me realize that you could make a chess set out of just about anything, and it was a month or so ago when I realized that I wanted a chess set of my own design.  Acrylic (also known as plexiglass) would be my medium and a laser cutter (generously provided for my use by MIT) would be my weapon.

The board is three layers of acrylic thick, the pieces are between 14 and 27 layers thick, and in the end you'll have a sturdy, scratch-free, and totally hand-made (laser made?) chess set!

This Instructable will walk you through

a)  What materials I used and where to get them for the best price
b)  How I went about designing the board and pieces
c)  The assembly process

and throughout the Instructable will be, what turned out to be vital, tidbits of information that, through trial and error, I've figured out so you don't have to.  I was fortunate enough to have access to a laser so I could make multiple cuts and try different approaches.  But that's not always possible (especially if you're ordering laser cut parts online), so my aim is to provide you with the information you'll need if you order your parts online.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Material (~$90 with shipping)
2 Acrylic Sheets (for the colored squares)  - 12" x 12" x 0.236" - McMaster
2 Acrylic Sheets (for the pieces) - 12" x 24" x 0.118" - McMaster
1 Acrylic Sheet (for the trim) - 12" x 24" x 0.246" - McMaster
1 Acrylic Sheet (for the bottom plate) - 17" x 17" x 0.125" - TAP Plastics
1 Scratch Resistant Acrylic Sheet (for the top plate) - 17" x 17" x 0.125" - TAP Plastics
2 Acrylic Rods (for the pieces) - 0.125" diameter, 6' long - McMaster #8531K11
1 Box of Screws (to screw board together) - 6-32, 0.5" long - McMaster #92949A148
Rubber feet (for bottom of board) - McMaster #95495K66

6-32 Tap - McMaster #8321A63
#36 Drill Bit - McMaster #30585A49
Allen Key - 5/64" - McMaster #7122A55 
TAP Acrylic Cement (smaller can) - TAP Plastics
Hypo Applicator (for acrylic cement) - BD-25/2 - TAP Plastics

Cotton Archival Gloves (available on McMaster)
Microfiber Cloth
Materials for Pegboard (detailed later in Step Five)

This is so beautiful! Great work and wonderful 'Ible. <br><br>As a side note, while I can see why you'd have second thoughts about it I really like the look of the columns seen through the clear pieces. (And not just because they look like tiny models of futuristic buildings.)
Well done. If you want to avoid the &quot;blackening&quot; of the acrylic with the paper removed, try a higher speed (20-30%). You might not cut through in one pass, but you also won't char the acrylic. Rubbing alcohol also does a pretty good job of removing the black if you use it immediately. <br><br>I think I will have to make one of these before I graduate and lose access to our laser cutters.
Wow, what a great instructible. <br> <br>I for one am in your camp, I have always been fascinated with a great looking chess set, and have often thought of building or buying one of the nice themed sets (Star Wars comes to mind), but although I do know how to play, I also do not play well. <br> <br>good Job
Fantastic imagination AND execution. Thanks for sending including all the gotcha's. That makes it a great instructable IMHO.
I really love the set! If I may offer a suggestion though, attach a piece of felt to the bottom of the pieces. This helps them glide across the board and will keep the edges of the pieces scratching the surface of it as well. Just my $0.02.<br><br>Again, very nice!
awesome !<br>really impressive photos
the set is badasssss...........!!! and the MIT logo makes it even more so (wish i was an MITian :'( )
This is awesome!
Brilliant. Very attactive and certainly has the wow factor. Well done with the ible it's great.
Hi!, I loved your design. I tried to open de excell spreadsheet with several programs, but nothing worked..<br>Would you help me? How do you open a spreadsheet?<br><br>Thanks for your time <br>And congrats for your project! :)<br>
I'm not sure what's up with the file. The file that downloads is not an excel file, and I'm sure I uploaded the correct file. <br><br>Luckily, I still had the file hanging around, so it should be all fixed now. Let me know if you need help understanding it. You should be able to open it with Microsoft Excel, Open Office, or potentially even GoogleDocs Spreadsheet.
Hi, <br>I love your design, I tried to read de excell spreadsheet with several programas, but I couldn't...<br>Would you help me? how do you open a spreadsheet?<br><br>Thank you for your time :)<br>And congrats for your project!<br><br>
This is awesome, my <a href="http://igripromagiu.ru/">game</a>
Nice job! I would have bought such chess ...
I know this may be asking too much, but would you be able to upload your SolidWorks files? I tried designing the pieces myself, but as I've only successfully used SolidWorks once before (for something very simple), I messed it up quite badly...<br> <br> If not, I understand.<br> <br> Thanks for the awesome instructable :D
a duck? :P
i think ill make some wooden chess pieces one side will be chickens and tthe other side will be monkeys to celebrate the chinese zodiac
Ripper cober, intend to make one of these one day. To cut the clear acrylic, I made a raised bed, with tiny tables of clear acrylic to sit the sheet on, this way I can remove the sheet at will and replace it in the exact same position every time, still with drawing loaded and saved on pc. No burning marks this way. Hooroo from downunder.
Truly beautiful! I do not have a machine like that at my disposal, but i was thinking of making the pieces on a CNC machine out of billet brass and aluminum. One concept that I find really neat is engraved acrylic and LEDs. if properly placed, the LED will cause only the engraved portion to light up.<br><br> For Example, http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-LED-Wedding-Table-Cards/ by JerseyJ <br><br>I am very impressed with the complexity and quality...GREAT JOB!

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