Instructables
Plexi-glass chess board with translucent and clear squares to add a touch of jury-rigged elegance to any geeks desk.
 
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Step 1: Process

For this project you will need to have a grease pen (or EXPO marker), ruler, sharp metal rod (I used a rat-tail file), brown packaging tape, medium metal scoring pad (the purple thing), 1/4" plexiglass, and if you choose to make a 3D board like I did (I know, I'm a geek) threading plugs and a matching threaded rod.
Hopefully there isn't another instructable like this one but I haven't made it through the whole list yet so...

The pictures are in order matching the numbers of the instructions.

1. First remove one side of the paper cover on the plexiglass. Don't remove the paper on the other side yet.
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1(alt). Don't remove the paper from either side just use a pencil and a razor to make your grid. Simply remove the square you want to expose to alteration. I didn't use this process because it works better for protecting from spray paint than the repeated abrasion of a sanding pad. If you want colored squares this is probably the way to go though. Just remember that the board will hopefully be getting use and there is a chance that the paint may eventually scratch off.

2-a. Decide how large you want the squares to be and make sure it is going to turn out to be an eight-by-eight square with square sections.

2-b. Mark the points where the lines are going to cross to create a grid as I did in the second photo. Use the ruler and grease pen to make the lines and eventually a grid. Don't remove the paper on the other side yet.
|XOR|
If you chose to keep the paper on both sides, this is were you would use a razor and the ruler to cut the squares you drew.

3. Adhere a line of tape on either side of one row and cover every other quadrant using the lines to keep relatively even squares. If anyone knows of a better way to frost plexiglass don't hesitate to comment but I used the scoring pads to lightly sand the unprotected squares. Repeat the process for every row and it should take about 2 hours to complete. Don't remove the paper on the other side yet.

4. Use the file and the ruler to make the trasition between frosted and clear squares more defined. Use the tip of the file to scratch a groove in the surface on the edge of the squares. Be really careful here, moving too fast will probably get you a nice blemish across half the board. *sigh*

Don't remove the paper on the other side yet.

5. If you want to put the board on stands to keep it elevated and protect the underside from scratches, or you want to make a three level board... read step five, otherwise move to step six.
This is the most dangerous part and I probably should have mentioned it before but, if you don't really care if it turns out perfectly symmetrical do this before you put all the effort into making the board. Okay, using the grease pen mark where you will be making the holes. For the three-tier board I drew diagonals from the edge of the grid to the edge of the plexiglass.
I've heard water is better for drilling plexiglass but I used olive oil. In order to keep the glass from cracking place it on a hard surface (that you can put a hole or two in), use only the weight of the drill to press down, use every graduation of bit you have to reduce the stress and lubricate and clear the bit between holes.

6. Now you can remove the paper from the other side of the plexiglass. Make sure there isn't any of your lubricant on the area to be glued. Flatten the spikes on the thread plugs (or get the kind without spikes... they're more expensive... by 5 cents) and place some 2-part epoxy on the shaft of the plugs. For aesthetic reasons turn the board over so the smooth, un-scored side will be facing up after you glue in the plugs. It makes it nicer to play on a glassy-smooth surface. Place the plugs in the holes and let them dry for however long the glue recommends.

Voila! The board should be complete and, after you clean off the fingerprints, it should look fairly nice.

The last picture is what the three-tier board ended up looking like... and yes I have played 3D chess with rules that account for it nicely. Thank you for reading my first instructable, I hope everything works out if you try it. Also, I realize that there are other mods of this and I will try to address them if you send me a message or make a post but I will add only those that retain the base concept.
plexi is hard as rock to cut without a band saw (using the scour and snap method) working on the awesome LED cube by alex_the_great
The_EN6INEER (author) 7 years ago
Does 'add new step' mean break the pictures into different pages? I actually did have an idea for the pieces but I haven't had time to make them. I'll post it when I do. My plan was to take two square pieces of 1/16" plexiglass and cut a slot in the center of each and place them together like two intersecting planes. Then etch half the image of each piece on all four corners so you have a clear piece with a floating image from all angles. I probably didn't explain that very well but the instructable will be better documented. Anyway, I plan to make the adjustment mega_swordman suggested but thanks for the comments.
Sorry for the confusion. We're always trying to make the interface better. Add new step creates a new step. You can add as many pictures to a step as are needed for a clear Instructable. Also, you can always edit your Instructables, so go ahead make the changes and post a comment telling people you've made improvements. I once made a sweet chess board using tinting tape and a stop sign. I'll leave it up to you to determine where I got the stop sign. PS - Welcome to Instructables!
I've gotten a stop sign from a road work crew, they just gave it to me... Also, is there anyway you could change the font of comments to where if you type apostrophe v ( 'v ) it doesn't connect it? if you can't thanks anyway!
DonTron7 years ago
Hi, one more quick tip: A speedier albeit more expensive way to do this would be to print up the board image (using a drawing program) on a whole sheet sticky laser label or two. Peel a little bit of the corner of the backing paper to align carefully onto the kraft paper the plastic comes in. This stuff is plenty dimensionally stable for our purposes. Once aligned, the remainder of the backing comes off and complete adhesion is then achieved. This allows for placement of a long, cork-backed ruler to guide the hobby knife to cut through both paper layers. If your printer is smaller than your chess board, necessitating the use of multiple sheets, consider making alignment bulls-eye w/ crosshairs. A Dover Book, "Board Games from Many Lands," has many examples of classic games that seem as though they would be fun to construct.
DonTron7 years ago
The_EN6INEERs advice about the curtain rods is good, but with a caveat: The curtain rod is extruded rather than cast. This will make it ill-suited for secondary machining. If you want to drill or tap or otherwise manipulate the rod, better to get a cast rod from a plastics supplier. Treating the edge can be a little bit of a problem: One misfortune can be embedding abrasives by melting, thats why its better to use a file than emery paper. The other would be burning. If a rouge wheel is used, apply only a little fine rouge, push the material into is gingerly, and keep the part moving to minimise local heating. Use respratory protecton. Lately, India ink has been used as a final polish for aluminum. I haven't tried, but it might work on plastic as well.
I've been looking around to find a way to make a board like this for about a week now. (Just got into Dragon Chess, and couldn't find any set that was actually 3d as oppossed to just 3 boards in a row) Spotted this in the MakeZine RSS and immediately bookmarked it. Just a thought for a mod on this, any one have any ideas of what might be used to have translucent posts holding the levels above one another? Now if only the shapelock for the pieces would arrive I could have the whole thing set up.
The_EN6INEER (author)  The Dragon Master7 years ago
Use the transparent curtain turn-key rods. They cost only a couple dollars and are usually made of relatively stiff acrylic plastic. You should be able to find them at any hardware store.
bostrees7 years ago
Do you have any ideas on a matching style of pieces to play with? It seems kinda... wrong to use chess pieces from another set on this.
I'm kinda partial to this.
pbwingman117 years ago
My idea would be to leave the paper on both sides,and mark/cut directly on and through the paper. then you could peel every other square of paper off. It probably would save a lot of taping time.
DonTron7 years ago
Some small tips: Polcyarbonate is a little more expensive than acrylic, but probably worth it here, it machines a little more nicely. Drilling: Stay away from 'split point' bits here, always practice on a scrap piece. Try using an end mill or wood bore. When using an end mill or drill bit, if things start well then 'go south,' this is because you have begun to melt the material, which has both a low mp and high specific heat. The material then freezes in the flutes, clogging them. The other problem is 'breakout.' Use a backup of similar hardness. Either material can be tapped, use dishsoap for lubrication. Consider covering your threaded rod with plastic tubing. Consider terminating the rod with acorn nuts. To treat the edge, consider scraping it with a piece of sheetlike metal. The idea of simply cutting out the squares from the backing paper with a hobby knife is probably a good one.
jdoege7 years ago
In step 1 you remove what I think is a far better mask than the masking tape you later use. To prepare the squares, layout the grid on the protective paper, then carefully cut and remove the squares of protective paper you wish to make opaque. This will leave you with very sharp edges to the squares. Spray painting is also an option, should you desire colored squares. I've done this many times and it produces beautiful results.
The_EN6INEER (author) 7 years ago
Does 'add new step' mean break the pictures into different pages? I actually did have an idea for the pieces but I haven't had time to make them. I'll post it when I do. My plan was to take two square pieces of 1/16" plexiglass and cut a slot in the center of each and place them together like two intersecting planes. Then etch half the image of each piece on all four corners so you have a clear piece with a floating image from all angles. I probably didn't explain that very well but the instructable will be better documented.
Crash21087 years ago
Again, there is an 'add new step' button for a reason.
Pretty nifty. My advide however is to break up step Two, and make it into several different steps. I will become easier to read and follow, as well as make it look better as a whole. This could be easy for you, for it is more of a matter of cut and paste, and moving the pictures. very nice instrucable nonetheless.