Introduction: Bottle Chess

There's a beach in Columbia where large chess boards are set up for anyone to play on, and for the pieces; used soda bottles. They look kind of mangled and ugly, but from this idea I thought of a little project of my own; hopefully it will look somewhat decent. So upon seeing this scene at the beach, I got this idea for a large chess board of my own. The pieces (for my own idea) will be Pepsi products vs. Coke products. Of course you can change it to whatever you want, the concept is the same.
I'm currently In college full time, work full time, and am a new father so my time is limited. However, once I have a little bit more time, this will be one of the first projects I tackle. The Steps aren't too complicated, and once you're finished, you'll be able to enjoy this over and over again. I can't wait to play my son, once he's old enough. So please have a look, post any comments or suggestions you wish, and Enjoy!

Step 1: Materials List

Here is a list of things you will need for this project.

Chess Board:

(4) 3" furring strips, 30" long
30" by 30" masonite or hard board
1/2" thick foamcore. 30" by 30"
large T-square
fine-grit sandpaper
glue gun and hot glue
sharp craft knife
floral spray paints (2 colors)
(2) 32-ounce packages of two-part, pour-on high-gloss resin
2 small, clean buckets
rubber stamps and ink, paint or wood-burning tool
wood stain (optional)
shellac or polyurethane

Chess Pieces:

Sand 50 lb. bag (Lowes, Home Depot, or any beach)
32 bottles of your own choosing, the following is my own lineup
Pepsi (King) - 1
Diet Pepsi (Queen) - 1
Pepsi Max (Rook) - 2
Wild Cherry Pepsi (Bishop) - 2
Pepsi one (Knight) - 2
Diet Pepsi Lime (Pawn) - 8

Coke (King) - 1
Diet Coke (Queen) - 1
Coke Zero(Rook) - 2
Cherry Coke(Bishop) - 2
Vanilla Coke(Knight) - 2
Coca-Cola with Lime(Pawn) - 8

Step 2: The Amazing Chess Board

I found this awesome chess board online one day and want to put it to use in this project. From B. Original, thank you B. Original!

Note: The chess board is designed to have a ceramic tile look with a 1/8" space between all of the tiles. If you want to butt the tiles flush together, cut the frame and backing to 29" square instead of 30" square.

  • Cut four of the 3" furring strips to 30" long, with the ends mitered at a 45 degree angle. The longer side of the mitered boards will measure 30" long.
  • Cut a piece of masonite or hardboard to 30" square for the backing.
  • Dry-fit the frame pieces on the work surface (Image 1).
  • Apply a bead of wood glue to the back of one frame piece and slide the backing board in place.
  • Line up the edges and corners and use an air stapler or brad nails to secure the backing to the frame (Image 2).
  • Work around the edges of the backing, gluing and stapling the frame pieces to the backing.
  • Flip the piece right-side up and let the glue dry completely.
  • While the glue is drying, create the checkerboard game tiles. Carefully measure, mark and cut 64 pieces of 1/2" foamcore, each measuring 3" square (Image 3). Use a sharp craft knife and keep the blade as straight as possible while cutting.
  • Clean up the cut edges with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Use floral spray paint (Image 4) to paint the foamcore squares, painting 32 of them a light color and 32 of them a dark color. Michele Beschen used floral spray paint because it works well on foamcore.
  • Once the paint is dry, start in one corner of the frame and dry fit the foamcore pieces, alternatig dark and light squares in a checkerboard pattern. Evenly space the squares 1/8" apart.
  • Secure the squares to the frame backing with hot glue (Image 5).
  • Position the board so a dark tile is in the lower left corner. Use rubber stamps, paint, a wood-burning tool or other means to add numbers and letters to the frame to identify the tiles (Image 6). Across the bottom, apply the numbers 1 through 8, starting at the left, with one number under each tile. Up the left-hand side, apply the letters A through H, starting at the bottom with A.
  • To seal the tiles and give the board a shiny, glass-like look, apply two coats of pour-on, high-gloss resin (Image 7). Read and follow all instructions for the resin, and make sure to mix the two parts of the material thoroughly.
  • Finish off the wooden frame with stain or varnish.

Step 3: The Pieces

It may take some time to collect 32 bottles (unless you drink a lot of soda), so enjoy them one at a time! Or, enlist your friends to help out. This step is obviously the easiest but could be the longest.

  • Fill 32 empty bottles with play sand, it should come out to about 50 LBS. of sand to fill all of the bottles. Use the Funnel to help out or this could get pretty messy.
  • Start playing chess like you're Bobby Fischer!

That's it! I know, it was a tough one, but now all of your hard work has paid off and you have quite an amazing Chess Set! Have fun!!