Introduction: Silhouette Chess Set.

Picture of Silhouette Chess Set.

Sometimes, you just need to make a chess set.

This is mine.

Step 1: Design & Cut

Picture of Design & Cut

I didn't want to go traditional, but I also didn't want to stray too far from the usual chess pieces - I hate having to pause and remember which piece is which.

So, I decided to use a simplified silhouette of the pieces, but rather than "black" and "white", I went with "filled" and "outline", and gave the filled pieces the same inner-line as I used to hollow out the "outline" pieces.

The board is as simple as I could without resorting to engraving - drawing lines to darken squares is a lot faster than engraving the entire square (and, it turns out, cheaper!).

I’ve added the cutting files to this step so that you can make your own, maybe even by hand. If you don’t have the tools to do your own laser engraving, I’ve also created files that you can use online - cutting it all in 3mm birch will cost you about $50, plus postage.

To get the outline design on both sides of the pieces, I’ve mirrored the pieces to be glued back-to back. If you’re using 3mm thick materials, you’ll need to cut the files twice and glue four layers together. If your laser is more powerful (or you’re cutting online), you can use materials twice as thick and get away with only cutting once and just gluing two layers together.

Step 2: Gluing

Picture of Gluing

The plywood I cut the set from is only 3mm thick - not so stable on one edge.

So, I mirrored all the pieces, and cut out four full sets, which I then glued back-to-back to make pieces four times as thick (12mm total) and much more stable.

You can use most glues to hold the layers together, since there isn't any real load on the layers, but the two best options are PVA (wood glue, white craft glue) or cyanoacrylate ("CA", "crazy" or "super" glue).

I used CA, just a small drop on each corner. The glue sets quickly, but there is enough time to align the layers - you just need to be careful not to glue the pieces to your work-surface or your fingers.

If you use PVA wood glue, you will need to press the parts while they dry. Not many people have 32 clamps - easier to lay all the glued pieces onto a flat surface and then lay a board or heavy book on top to hold them together until the glue dries.

Step 3: The Board

Picture of The Board

The board is a matter of personal taste - some people like having something with a bit of weight to it - in that case, you should either cut an extra layer of 3mm board and firmly glue & clamp them together, or cut your board from thicker material in the first place.

Step 4: Play!

Picture of Play!

It's not really the intention of this instructable to teach you how to play chess, but Google is your friend - find an opponent, set up the board, and off you go!

Just in case, though, here are a few to try, each with a different style:

Chess Kid (video starts as soon as you open the link)

Chess Academy

Chess Corner

There are many other similar sites just a few clicks away.


DelfinaFerris (author)2016-02-25

Just amazing

Meredithwatkins (author)2016-02-18

Amazing i like instrutctable tool!!!!!

TechKiwiGadgets (author)2015-12-05

I really like this. Nice work!

Kiteman (author)TechKiwiGadgets2015-12-05

Thank you!

NXTHacker (author)2015-11-18

Awesome chess board, very nicely designed :D I haven't been active for about 3 years and surprised you are still coming up with new instructables!

Kiteman (author)NXTHacker2015-11-19

I... can't... stop...

(LOL, getting a laser cutter was a big inspiration, of course.)

LauraMelnik made it! (author)2015-10-25

Hey Kiteman, I liked your set but wanted something more portable. Thanks for the great head start.

Very inpressive! Love the instructable too!

Thank you!

How do you have 200 instructables, do you ever run out of ideas?

I guess not...

The thing is, every time I get an idea, I either write it down or start (but don't publish) an instructable. Then, when I get the urge to Make, I go back through my notes to find a thing to make.

Very awesome!

Thank you!

Kiteman (author)LauraMelnik2015-10-26

Wow, how did you make that?

You ought to write your own instructable!

LauraMelnik (author)Kiteman2015-10-26

I just took your files, stuck them in my cad program, then got to cutting.

I have a Full Spectrum Laser, and it comes with some cool software. You print in colors and assign the colors to different power and speeds.

So each board square was outlined in light blue and cut through(Speed 100, power 50). The first line inside the square was filled with black, so it was rastered (Speed 60, power at 40) to take out 1/16th inch. Then the inner squares were green, so they were cut only part way through (speed 100, power 20).

The parts are mostly the same, I tweaked a couple of the parts, but they are basically the same as yours. Instead of gluing the opens together and the closed together, I used 2 open and 2 closed but I cut one sheet of each color.

The mat is just the board squares glued (contact cement) to some denim. If I'd been smart, I would have sewed the denim mat first, but I am not a sewing machine person, CNC, no problem.

Then the bag was a pain. If i were to do it again, the bag would be half the size with the parts and mat in there together. Adding 2 compartments and velcro was a bit overkill. Same with the top of the bag, the cinch sac idea is ok, but I think its a bit overkill.

Glad you liked it.

sonic broom (author)2015-10-09

Nice! Big fan of homemade chess sets.

Kiteman (author)sonic broom2015-10-10

Thank you!

eric.atkinson (author)2015-10-05

Excellent solution to making a quick to laser cut and very elegant chess board.

Kiteman (author)eric.atkinson2015-10-06

Thank you!

desertsniper (author)2015-10-05

cool looking set! I wish I had a laser cutter! I have been wanting to build my own set for a while. great job

Kiteman (author)desertsniper2015-10-05

Thank you!

If you have hand-tools, you could cut out two solid sets (the PDF would make a template) and colour one.

Kiteman (author)2015-10-04

I've entered this in the Epilog contest, so I would appreciate a click or two on the banner at the top of the page...


Kafukai (author)2015-10-04

This is a nice chess set. Very original design.

Kiteman (author)Kafukai2015-10-04

Thank you!

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
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