Introduction: Chess Pieces Made of CONCRETE!

About: I like building things. I like to experiment with alternative methods of heating and cooling houses.
I have often wanted to make a chess set out of something UNUSUAL and I finally did it.  Here is a chess set (pieces only, no board), made of CONCRETE.  I own a nice wooden chess set and wanted to reproduce it and might give them away as Christmas presents.  The nice thing about this set is it looks almost identical to my very expensive wooden set... yet these sets only cost about $3 dollars apiece to make!    I used an unusual method of making the molds that I have not seen anywhere else.  The set is pretty rugged EXCEPT for the queens crown.  If the queen is dropped, the spikes on the crown may crack off.  I have not thought of a way to remedy this... and maybe someone has an idea.

Step 1: THINGS YOU WILL NEED :

The first thing you will need is a NICE chess set that you want to reproduce.... and that you are willing to risk doing MINOR damage to them.  I discolored one of my pawns but only need to put some staining oil back onto the piece and it will be as good as new.  Also, I had to remove the felt bottoms of the pieces before painting them so that is easily repairable also. I had about equal success using the quick setting CEMENT-ALL or also the MORTAR MIX.  A box of the concrete is only about 12 dollars, and would make several sets. I tried many kinds of stains and paints including RIT-dye, women's hair dye, printer inks, brush-on-paints, and spray paints.  The best combination I could come up with was the ones pictured here.

Step 2: MAKING THE MOLDS:

The blue and white tubs of silicone stuff is easy to use but kind of sticky.  Just mix equal parts of each in a separate container and stir it together for a couple minutes.  Set the chess piece on something like a jar so you can rotate the jar without touching the chess piece.  Paint the blue silicone stuff on the chess piece.  It is good to make a kind of THICK coating to help retain the shape of the chess man.  The blue silicone mold compound is rather expensive, so this painting method uses MUCH less than the BLOCK MOLDING technique of making a mold.  When molding the KNIGHT, pay special attention to the space under the horses chin.  If this area is filled with silicone gel... you will not be able to remove the knight from the mold.  To remedy this, just fill in the area under the horses chin with some clay.  Childrens clay will work fine.  then after you make your mold and remove the knight... the clay will come out easily from your original.  

Step 3: Now Let's Pour Some Concrete!

Mixing and pouring the concrete is really easy.  It's just like mixing pancake batter.  Add water to the powder until the mixture can be poured.  It should not be watery because the more watery it is, the weaker the concrete will be.  So try to make the mix pourable but only barely pourable for best strength.  

Step 4: Paint and Stain:

The white set is simply painted with Glidden palomino gold color.  Let dry overnight then paint with a clear coat of polyurethane.  All of the chess pieces will need about 2 coats of the polyurethane.  The dark chess men are painted with 2 stains to achieve a really impressive 2-tone almost WOODEN look!  First I painted them with quikrete RED concrete stain (available in the concrete section of your hardware store).  After the red dries.. it is not really "RED" it looks more like terra-cotta.  This dark reddish color will be covered with a coat of MINWAX ebony black color wood stain.  Pain the ebony black stain but don't cover the chess piece COMPLETELY.  Leave a little of the REDDISH showing here and there randomly.  This gives the chessman a 2-tone wooden look that just about perfectly matches the real chess set. 

Step 5: FAILURE CHESS-PIECES :

OK... not every chess man made it to the board.  Some of them only deserve the TRASH CAN.  This is about all I can think of to show how I made the chess set.  Hope it helps others who might be interested in making a chess set.
Concrete and Casting Contest

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Concrete and Casting Contest

I Could Make That Contest

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I Could Make That Contest