Chess Pieces From Medication Vials




Introduction: Chess Pieces From Medication Vials

About: I live in the Kansas City area and I love to learn and make stuff. Instructables has become my new best friend!

In this instructable I'm going to show you how to turn a medication vials into a chess set! I work as a RN at a hospital and noticed there are tons of vials discarded everyday. I love making things out of discarded items or recycled items. I thought this would be a perfect project. If you would like to replicate this project I'm sure you know someone in the medical field that could easily save some empty vials. If not...I actually asked the pharmacy if they would save me some vials of different sizes and colors and the reason why. They were happy to help!

Step 1: Getting the Top Off of a Vial

  • The first thing you'll need to do is push the tip of either some Kelley clamps or a set of needle nose pliers slightly under the rubber stopper and grip the metal top as shown in the pictures. Peel the metal back and slowly work it off the top. Be careful in this part as the metal is very sharp and could easily cut you.
  • Once the metal is off you'll need to grip the rubber stopper and pull it out. This part is very easy but I would caution you to wear gloves and safety glasses as there is usually still a small amount of medication left in the vial. Some medications irritate the skin and definitely the eyes. If the stopper pops off there's a possibility of spilling the medication out.

Step 2: Washing Out the Vial and Getting the Label Off

  • For this step I typically wash the vial out with soap and water.
  • Fill a bowl with hot water and soap and soak the vials for a while. Once the label is wet it's easier to get the label off. There are many ways to get the labels off. You could use a heat gun to warm the adhesive but that makes the glass hot. I typically just use my thumb nail after they have soaked for a while and the adhesive/label usually comes right off.
  • You can then clean the glass the rest of the way off with some Goo Gone and then rinse for a very clean finish.

Step 3: Making Toppers for Your Chess Pieces

  • As you can see from the empty vials there are some cool shapes to some medication vials!
  • I went to my local hobby store and found a couple of packages of miniature corks that would fit inside of the vials. I would take a couple with you to make sure they fit. The tops of the vials are surprisingly smaller than I anticipated.
  • Once you find the miniature corks you can find a bunch of decorative tops as well. There are usually little jewelry trinkets that will work as toppers for the corks.
  • I figured the clear vials would have sort of a regal feel to them and the dark vials would have more of a "woodsy" feel to them. With that in mind I found toppers that fit that look I wanted.
  • Using an epoxy or contact glue you can glue the tops onto the corks. I typically do this once the corks are snugly pushed down inside of the vial.

Step 4: You Have Your Chess Pieces! Have Fun and Enjoy!

  • Here is a look at the final pieces I came up with.

I would like to submit this into the Formlabs Contest. I love making things and the Form 1+ 3D printer would sky rocket my potential! If I had one I would be able to customize toppers for chess pieces. I've also had multiple ideas for improving my camera, cell phone, and a couple of other things around the house. I have the gears turning in my head all the time and I think having a Form 1+ 3D printer would definitely help unlock my potential. Being new at posting Instructables has sparked a new interest in me as well. It has really made sharing my creativity easy with others. I love the site and regardless of the contest results you'll be seeing lots of my posts! Thank you for your consideration.


Formlabs Contest

Participated in the
Formlabs Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Puzzles Challenge

      Puzzles Challenge
    • Rice & Grains Challenge

      Rice & Grains Challenge
    • Lamps Challenge

      Lamps Challenge



    8 years ago on Introduction

    Well now I have the idea of SHOTESS!!! Every time you take chess piece you pop off the top and take a shot.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very original! I like it. Thanks for sharing this great project!