Introduction: Magnetic Wall Chess, With Custom Board

Picture of Magnetic Wall Chess, With Custom Board

The idea behind this instructable was based entirely around my lack of space.
I wanted to be able to play chess, both in person, and over long distance. the latter requiring a set to be set up most the time.

As i don't have the room to store a set up chess set, i decided to make a magnetic version, to be hung on the wall.

So, here we go, and bare with me, theres alot to this one.

Step 1: Getting Equipment, Materials

Picture of Getting Equipment, Materials
ok, list of equipment goes like this
  • Decent Cutting board - the larger the better
  • A sharp exacto / scapel knife
  • A sharp Stanley knife
  • plenty of spare blades
  • A A4 inkjet printer
  • A4 Laminator (optional but recommended)
  • PVA/Wood Glue

List of materials
  • Two sheets of Dense card (as in pictures below)
  • Plenty of Mountboard style card (same thickness etc)
  • 64 Small magnets, these must be the same depth as your dense cardboard! (many great sellers on ebay for these)
  • Paper (obviously)
  • 32 Magnetic washers/coins (most 1pence and 2 pence pieces are magnetic CHECK THEM FIRST THOUGH!)

Think thats it!

Step 2: Cutting the Main Board!

Picture of Cutting the Main Board!

Firstly, you need to print off some template goodness
Templates(all the pdfs you need are found in this directory!)

Picture 1- So, using your favorite program print off the four corners, so you get something like this

Pictures 2&3- Stick these corners together, and then spray mount them to the dense board (make sure you use a temporary adhesive.

Picture 4- I started by cutting along the long curved edges leaving the corners as shown

I then took off these corners leaving me with the board cut out as in picture 5!

Now is a good time to use the first board to draw around onto your second piece of the dense board.

Cut this second piece out the same as the first.

ps. as with all the cutting in this -ible many stroke with a sharp blade works best!

Step 3: Drilling the Magnet Holes!

Picture of Drilling the Magnet Holes!

Picture 1- Start by marking out the centre of each square (im sorry but i forgot to do this with the computer template! so it took me longer)

Picture 2- Measure the width of your magnets, mine worked out at 4mm. Get the correct drill bit and start drilling!

The best procedure here is to have a scrap piece of wood that you can drill into - this gives a cleaner hole.

Picture 3- Drilling complete! (you can now remove the paper template)

Picture 4- neaten up the holes using your scalpel blade.

Picture 5- You should now have two boards, one with holes, one without.

Step 4: Lots of Glue!

Picture of Lots of Glue!

picture 1- Squish your pva all over the board try not to block the holes!

Place the two board together, and wipe away excess glue.

Picture 2- Find something heavy to put it under, and leave over night to dry! (yes i kno, poor iMac)

Step 5: Adding the Magnets!

Picture of Adding the Magnets!

Picture 1- I Figured it would be best if all the magnets were either north up, or south up, this way if the coins/washes became magnetized, they would still all work! the way to ensure this is by taping one magnet as a guide.

Pictures 2- I found the easiest way to put the magnets in the holes, was to use a small stack of the coins/washers and kinda push the magnet in place, then slide the coins to one side, leaving the magnet behind.

Picture 3- Magnets all in place!

At this point i decided to stick tape over all the magnets as an extra measure this however is optional!

Step 6: Adding the Grid

Picture of Adding the Grid

Picture 1- Start off by printing the black and white grid (templates on link above)

An optional step here is to laminate each sheet - i recommend this, as it holds the magnets in better, and provides a better playing surface!

Picture 2- As with the template before stick these sections together using tape - i used scotch magic tape as it has a longer life.

Picture 3- Corners stuck together and excess trimmed off

Picture 4- Measure and mark the center on your dense magnet filled board, using a pin hold the top in place

At this point it is hard to line up the corners, i recommend shining a bright torch underneath allowing you to see the edge of the dense board. (this is how i mangaged it)

Picture 5- tape down one side of the sheet to hold it in place, then carefully lift up the other side and glue it down, un-tape the first side and glue down the second.

Picture 6- Turn the whole thing upside down, and cut off the extra around the edge!

That is the board pretty much complete.

Finishing touches may include adding felt on the underneath, or little feet.

Next we move onto the pieces!!

Step 7: Lots, and Lots of Cutting. With a Few Bonus Pressue Sores.

Picture of Lots, and Lots of Cutting. With a Few Bonus Pressue Sores.

The pieces are made by slotting two card shapes together.

So, print out the templates ive provided, or make your own.
and stick them to the mount card.

My mount card was just under 2mm thick, so i made the gap down the middle to fit.

This can easily be adjusted by pencil, after a while you tend to get a feel for the sweet spot, for me it was cutting just down the inside of the line.

And get cutting!!! This Section Probably took me the longest.

A sharp knife is a MUST here.

And your hands would welcome some extra padding as in picture 3!

Step 8: Adding the Bases

Picture of Adding the Bases

ok, were getting there now, thanks for sticking with me!

Picture 1- here we see a nice little army of cardboard shapes from the previous step!

Picture 2- Cut out some teeny little squares, and stick them to your coins/washers and pieces. i found that if you stick the pieces to the coin/washer, then added the squares after it was easier to get a snug fit.

Pictures 3&4- Let the pieces dry over night again, now find yourself a good sharp corner, stick your cutting mat to it, and start taking off that excess around the coins!

An optional step heres it to paint the whole cardboard section of the piece with pva glue, just a coating, not too much - This makes the pieces gold together alot better.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Firstly, Paint half your pieces a different colour, i went for good old black, i was going to paint the other half white, but decided to stick with the wood like colour of the card.

Secondly, you need to figure out how you want to attach it to your wall or ceiling, the magnets hold the pieces no problem, but are not too strong.

I suggest either attaching a string accross the back, and hang it like a picture.
or you could add a metal keep towards the top.

I intend to add a special little slot bracket just for the chess set (i have no masonry drill bits at the moment - hence no pictures)

Well, we got here in the end - this project took me about a week on and off. Imbetween work,

Please do leave me comments, and i would love to see any remakes.
Also, shout out any improvements, in understand people may have better ways to do things, and im always willing to learn!

Thanks for reading this far.


abukisho (author)2016-05-18

It's Very Nice
PLS can you put a pices desinge

flamingo.mall (author)2014-10-01

Amaizing, thanks a lot¡¡ I wait for the next suggestion.

BoeroBoy (author)2009-08-07

Fanstastic! I'll add that to my list of winter projects.

gmjhowe (author)BoeroBoy2009-08-07

I am actually working out a crazy new chess set atm.

BigNateMI (author)2009-03-21

Wondering if a few layers of that magnetic paint would be adequate to use on the board instead of planting individual magnets on each square? Then you could put the decal over the top. I picked up a quart at a garage sale for $2.00, and I may have to try just painting the chessboard onto my kids' wall.

gmjhowe (author)BigNateMI2009-03-22

It might work if you used penny sized magnets on the pieces, but at that point, you're better off using sheet metal on the board. The neodymium magnets are just strong enough to hold the pieces, so i can't see the magnetic paint working.

dimeH (author)2009-03-04

Howdy! You know what I noticed with my magnetic chessboard? The pieces migrate on their own! This is not an unexpected result as you establish complex field gradients within the board itself. Gradients which change as the game progresses and/or as the pieces migrate (of their own accord). Trick is to place the pieces squarely in the center of their respective square which allows you to keep a sharp eye out for a sneaky illegal side-slip. In castling - always move the king first (2 squares) and no two-handed chess (even with the clock). Thanks for sharing.

gmjhowe (author)dimeH2009-03-04

Hi thanks for the comment! Ive found that its very hard for the pieces to jump on my set. If you place a piece half way across the line, it just sits there. I didn't plan it that way. I just go lucky! Is your set one that you made yourself?

dimeH (author)gmjhowe2009-03-04

No I didn't build it .. store bought set perhaps a ten by ten inches .. pretty shiny metal with moderate weight plastic pieces - magnets are similarily moderately powerful ... it's not a mini - micro board ... but it's certainly not particularly large either .. nice knapsack size. Mine definitely tend to slowly creep on their own. Kinda cute actually : ) I like your non rectangular board layout ... quite clever as there is little room to move in as far as distorting board geometry without significantly affecting the 'lay of the game'. Belongs in Spocks game room aboard the Enterprise. Kirk out!

gmjhowe (author)dimeH2009-03-04

Nice, i would have liked to have used better materials for this one. But, i felt card was best suited for wall mounting. The board i made is actually bigger than most, i wanted a full size feel to it. The pieces are also much bigger. The reason why i made the board that shape, is that i wanted it to be different, but i also knew my fiance would never learn 3d chess. So, this set was born. Im actually looking to reproduce the board for some better pictures to go in scroll saw magazine. Got any pointers for emprovement?

scoobert (author)2009-02-16

Where are the chess piece templates? thats the part I wanted most. Thanks.

gmjhowe (author)scoobert2009-02-17


I am planning an updated version of this ible, so keep an eye out.

Berkin (author)2009-02-09

This is...

TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ItsTheHobbs (author)2008-12-13

neat! wow, you're sooo cool!

gmjhowe (author)ItsTheHobbs2008-12-14

haha, thanks!

chopstick000 (author)2008-12-03

Hi! First .. a BIG thank you for the inspiration! That is one great idea!! Nice work... I'm wondering where I could find the grid template? ... i can't find the link... could you help me please? and again ... thank you !

gmjhowe (author)chopstick0002008-12-03

here is the link to the files.

Thanks for the comment, be sure to reply with a picture if/when you finish it!

chopstick000 (author)gmjhowe2008-12-03

Haha... love the "if/when" ... no doubt! i will!! Thank you for the link and the quick answer!

gmjhowe (author)chopstick0002008-12-03

Your welcome, i look forward to seeing it!

JDPMD (author)2008-11-06

Why not make the pieces shorter with flat top on each, and on tops put the flat standard symbol for each piece, for wall chess use as well as instant conversion to table top.

gmjhowe (author)JDPMD2008-11-07

Good idea, thanks!

edge350 (author)2008-10-26

Nice job, got a custom set there. Great idea too--I don't have the room to leave out my set either so it lays forgotten in the closet. On the wall it would scream out "lets play" when friends stop by. Just an idea. If your pieces don't happen to hold up too well with use. (Say they start wearing out, or you play someone who gets sweaty hands when they hear "check" too often.) You can make a set with some balsa wood. Use your same method as you did on with cardboard pieces. Then finish it with some durable furniture stain-sealant or wood sealant of your choice. They would be plenty lightweight.

gmjhowe (author)edge3502008-11-07

Indeed, that is a good suggestions if and when the set need redoing. I did coat the peices in PVA glue, which essentially gave it a good hard wearing plastic coating.

catso23 (author)2008-09-03

Wouldn't it be easier to buy a chess set and add the magnets?

gmjhowe (author)catso232008-09-03

I did buy one, however the pieces were smaller than i wanted. A set of pieces the size i wanted would have struggled to stay on the board. Hence i made light weight pieces.

morgenlandfahrer (author)2008-06-26

Cool looking chess board! Wouldn't a 2D style be better for on-the-wall playing, though?

gmjhowe (author)morgenlandfahrer2008-06-27

well i also wanted to be able to dual use, as in wall storage, and also playing like a normal set.

rachel (author)2008-06-06

This is really pretty, I love the shape of the board.

gmjhowe (author)rachel2008-06-06

Thanks, i love the shape also, different, but still the same board.

lumpy2783 (author)2008-06-06

I like the Instructable! And the format of the board and the picture u used in the template with the clouds is sweet. Does the board really serve its purpose though? You hinted the magnets were not too strong and the pieces move a bit. When you turn the board on its side, do the pieces move much?

gmjhowe (author)lumpy27832008-06-06

The pieces only fall off if i hold it upside down and shake it up and down! i basically made the laminate layer thick enough that it weakened the magnets to the right point.

gmm4life (author)2008-05-23

Could you post the templates for the chess pieces? I just got into chess again and I love the design of them!!

gmjhowe (author)gmm4life2008-05-25

the link to the templates can be found at the beginning of step 2! enjoy

gmm4life (author)gmjhowe2008-05-25

Whoops! guess I missed that... Thanks a lot! Love the Instructable.

Blitzy (author)2008-05-12

Your idea is neat I just copied piece symbols onto paper and used a large posterboard for the background. I dropped these into plastic photo pockets i glued onto the board so they slip in and out, on one board i used velcro but that was too costly and messy. I've also made some beautiful chess boards out of 18 inch tiles that were plastic I got at lumber centers in the floor section. I made the squares the typical even 2 inch or other just so they are 8 evenly spaced squares then drew the lines with a magic marker and make the dark squares with the marker filling them in. Follow up with a clear sealant spray and presto a neat looking board to make it look better use tile and round off the edge with some quarterround wood. One can even sell these.

gmjhowe (author)Blitzy2008-05-13

nice, it all sounds great! any chance of some pictures/instructables?

Dr.Paj (author)2008-05-05

Wall chess? Now why would you put that on a wall when you have a perfectly good table in the picture? Would you play it like darts? (Dart chess would be more fun.)

gmjhowe (author)Dr.Paj2008-05-06

Well, if you had read the intro, i do explain why it has to go on the wall. The table pictured is my hobby table, and blocks my door when set up. so, the chess set goes on the wall! I agree with ur idea of dart chess, you get extra points for knocking other pieces off!

Dr.Paj (author)gmjhowe2008-05-06

I got your king!

Kiteman (author)2008-04-28

That whole set looks really good, even without the magnets. Are the pieces your own design?

gmjhowe (author)Kiteman2008-04-28

Yes, the pieces are my own design, i had designed them alot more ornimental but that proved to take too long to cut out so i simplyfied the design. If i get into chess again i intend to send the set off to and get them made in acrylic! thanks for the comment.

Kiteman (author)gmjhowe2008-04-28

Hah, Ponoko was going to be my next suggestion!

jongscx (author)Kiteman2008-04-29

...or a friend with a laser cutter, no?

Kiteman (author)jongscx2008-04-29

If you have one?

jongscx (author)Kiteman2008-04-29

Everyone can be a friend for the right price...

gmjhowe (author)jongscx2008-04-30

is this your own company? or just one you know of? really i could do with a uk based company

jongscx (author)gmjhowe2008-04-30

As Awesome as that would be, No... it's not. Oh, UK-based... sorry. I'm almost positive there are some there. I just know of those here, across the pond in the US of A.

gmjhowe (author)Kiteman2008-04-29

hey, id be happy to pay someone to do it if i knew of anyware nearby!

gmjhowe (author)Kiteman2008-04-29

great minds think alike eh?

incorrigible packrat (author)2008-04-29

Oooh Neat. when you get the acrylic pieces, you should put leds in them (2 different colours for the 2 players) with a little coil attached, into which a wee current could be introduced, via an rf source behind the board (akin to those induction charging, wireless mice). Then each piece would light up in the appropriate colour, when placed on the board.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to ... More »
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