Introduction: Chess DIY

About: Hi there, my name is Jasper Wellink. I am a Woodworker and Designer. Currently I am working as a technician at 3devo because I took interest in 3d-printing technologies. I will be posting new content soon. *pa…

Hi there!

During my internship at the Waag I had some time left to freestyle. So I decided to make a chess game. I hope you like it.

Step 1: Design the Set (Pawns)

For this chess game i decided to make my own chess pieces. Both the black and white ones are printed with PLA.


CAD software (FreeCAD)
Free time


Make all the bases. mine are 20mm wide. if these six bases are in place you can build on them to make your pawns. Keep in mind that the pawns are quite small so don't go too detailed, this caused me to fight with my 3D printer, I had to redesign my set to make it more suitable for a print job. I've found out that using retraction on these tiny models is a big no no.

- 2 Queens (one of each color)

- 2 Kings (one of each color)

- 4 Towers (one pair of each color)

- 4 Bishops (one pair of each color)

- 4 Horses (one pair of each color)

- 16 Pawns (8 of each color)


The print settings for the Sigma i used:

210 C° nozzle
65 C° heatbed
100% flow

The 8 pawns have these settings:

50% fill density
0.12mm layer thickness
45mm/s x y movement
No retraction

The 8 other figures have these settings:

100% fill density
0.13mm layer thickness
45mm/s x y movement
No retraction

Step 2: Design the Set (Board)

I had some plywood leftovers which i used to make the board for all the tiles to be placed in. Later I regretted this because the veneer on the plywood didn't like being milled. But later I used some commercial wood filler to even it out.


Measuring tape.
Scrap wood for tests.
Plastic you can lasercut.
CNC milling machine
Laser Cutter


My pawns' bases are 20mm. So I decided 25mm tiles should do the job. This means in theory that the total length and width of the tiles (8x8) is 200mm x 200mm.

I thought it would be nice for the tiles to have an indentation which fit the pawn perfectly. See the picture above for reference.

Because of the laser cut and some minor offsets in the milling machine i ended up milling the indentation for the tiles 197mm x 196mm. This was guessing, measuring and testing till it's right.

Step 3: Milling

I've milled the chessboard using a shopbot. It's a rectangle (280mm x 250mm x 16mm) with chamfered edges. The indentation is as deep as the tiles are high (3mm)


I recommend some high quality plywood because this decides the look and feel of your game. I'm going to make a new board soon.
Milling machine.
Wood Filler


After you made some test go for the final version. Because my Shopbot didn't have a vacuum table i drilled two screws through the board. Because you glue the tiles over these holes you won't be seeing them when the board is finished. Beware that the milling is also done here so they must be sunk in well below the 0 of the wood. I went for 6mm under.

Fill all the mishaps caused by the milling process,

Step 4: This....

Most of the plastics you use to lasercut are covered in a protective film. This keeps the plate from scratching whilst handling.


Stanley knife


After you cut the tiles you need to remove all the leftovers. Use the stanley to (remove/scrape off) any incorrectly molten material. While doing this, wear safety goggles and a protective facemask. This is a painstakingly boring job, but that could be because i made 2 games.

Step 5: Bling-bling

Let's clean up those ugly engravings.


Cotton swabs.
Small cup or glass.



Pour a little bit of acetone in the cup. Dip the cotton swab in the acetone and carefully stroke it on the engraved part of the plastic . Move it around on the bottom, the acetone will melt the plastic and the surface will smoothen out. While doing this the plastic regains its shine. Dip every 2-4 tiles depending on the dust collected and laser stepover residue.

Satisfaction level was over 9000 after cleaning them.

Step 6: Keep on Printing, Keep on Printing.

During the whole process I was printing the pawns because this job just costs a lot of time. And you can leave most commercially viable 3D printers unattended while printing. total print time without all the design errors is about 32h.


Staley knife


For the pawns; because i didn't use retraction the pawns are "hairy" this excess material can be scraped off by using a sharp stanley. Don't stroke against the hairs because you will mess up the prints by cutting into them.

Watch your fingers!

Step 7: Make the Board!

By now you have had all the tiles in. If not fit them all in. It should be a tight fit, but then again not too tight.


Sanding paper
Super Glue (fast drying)


Fix all the imperfections before you use a finish on your board. The duct tape on the side of the board is because of an outbreak. I always use tape for small breakouts if the shard is still in my possession. By now the wood filler you applied should have dried. Sand the excess wood filler off before you glue the tiles in, this keeps the tiles from scratching.

Optional: Finish the wood with a oil or other finishing product.

After doing all this, you can prepare for glueing in the tiles. Remove dust and so on.

Start in the bottom left corner with a black tile and secure it tightly in the corner. Stack a white one on top of it and over next to it. Keep filling the indentation till done. Keep pushing them into the corner for about 15 seconds depending on the glue.

Step 8: Done!

This is a lovely project to make in a FabLab and will test your abilities on three machines.

Have fun playing on your board.

Thanks for viewing my instructable.