Mid Century Modern Chess Pieces

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Introduction: Mid Century Modern Chess Pieces

About: Hey, I'm Adam. A web developer by day, I make things out of salvaged wood, steel, and other goodness whenever I can!

My son loves to play chess and I have no idea how to play. So I decided to build a chess set!

I originally thought of turning these on the lathe but quickly gave up on that plan, as I lack the skills to do so. But I am a huge fan of modern art and minimalist objects. And started to do some research and eventually came across a set created by Lanier Graham in 1966 and fell in love with its simplicity and really enjoyed how all of the pieces fit in a tiny little box. This build is Part 1 of 2 and may likely contain an optional Part 3 which would be a box to hold the chess pieces. What I really like about this set is that the dimensions are not terribly specific. In my case, I chose to go with chess pieces that were 20mm by 20mm, so a Pawn would end up being 20mm cubed. I will give the dimensions of each piece in terms of blocks, allowing you to adjust the size of the pieces if you wish.

Supplies

  • Thickness Planer - Optional
  • Band Saw - Optional
  • Table Saw
  • Cross Cut Sled
  • Ripping Blade
  • 80 Tooth crosscut blade
  • Sand Paper
  • Tung oil
  • Pencil
  • Square
  • Ruler

Step 1: Sizing and Dimensions

Because I started with the chess pieces I wasn't concerned too much about the size of the pieces, but make sure to check and confirm the official rules of Chess. I think your pieces are supposed to be about 25% smaller than the squares they go on. 1” square would be a ¾” piece.

Pawn - 1x1 block Rook - 1x2 block Knight - 1x2 block Bishop - 1x2 block Queen & King - 1x6 block, plus the kerf of your bandsaw or hand saw blade.

Start by choosing two contrasting woods, I chose maple and walnut.

Next cut them into strips of equal width and height, optionally you can run them through a thickness planer.

Step 2: The Plans

Step 3: Now We Will Need to Do Some Layout

The Pawns are simple, create a cube

The Rook is also super simple, create a block 1x2

For the Knight, I made a mark in the middle and divided the width essentially creating a lap joint.

The Bishop is a 45-degree angle starting at one end and should end in the middle of the piece.

The King and Queen are a bit different, find the middle and draw a 45-degree line on both sides of the half so that you have a V.

Step 4: Final Steps

Once everything has been cut out and obviously for each color of the wood ( I chose maple and walnut, but you could use any contrasting woods ) it was time for a lot of sanding. Because this chess set is “Modern” we want to maintain the sharp edges so break the edges but do not round them.

I applied a few coats of Tung oil, it was rather daunting applying then cleaning off the excess oil but it turned out amazing!

Step 5: Done!

Checkout how you can store the pieces. They all fit nicely together, and would look amazing in a nice little box!

Step 6: What Next?

If you enjoyed making the chess pieces, why not have a look at how to make the chessboard next?

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43 Comments

0
JohnC430
JohnC430

6 months ago

Cool idea. just a small piece of wood cut to get all the pieces. (they fit together nicely)

1
MichaelL628
MichaelL628

6 months ago on Step 5

Fantastic design and simple enough for all skill levels too I think your son appreciates your interest in one of his interests/hobbies.I too could not play properly till my twenty's now play daily at https://www.sparkchess.com/ you can learn there too. But I think if you have patience and allow your son to show you how. Both your own and his confidence will be boosted and enjoyable father son time. Your design eliminates any pieces damaging another piece in a box and can also be treated like a puzzle putting them away once you have both won a game or two. I always wanted to design a box that turned into a chess board your design of set makes it a little more possible. Well done hope you manage to learn the game

0
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 6 months ago

Oh interesting,

I should have a look I thought I would have more time to learn but sadly still haven't even attempted it.

Cheers!
Adam Patterson

3
teacherben
teacherben

1 year ago

Love how the pieces fit together. Nice touch.

0
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 6 months ago

Thanks :)

1
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you so much, I still need to make a box for them!

0
MichaelL628
MichaelL628

Reply 6 months ago

The box could unfold and be the board

0
remcrow
remcrow

1 year ago on Step 5

Do you also have instructions for making the board?

0
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 1 year ago

I do, I will finish that up as soon as I can.

2
Adler Planetarium
Adler Planetarium

6 months ago

Beautiful design. I wish I could buy one as well!

1
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 6 months ago

Lol, thanks!

Maybe one day

2
seawarrior181
seawarrior181

6 months ago

This is fantastic. I wish I could buy one!

1
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 6 months ago

Thanks, maybe one day 😄

1
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 6 months ago

Thanks 😄

1
Ham-made
Ham-made

1 year ago

Great design and fantastic first Instructables heyimamaker!
Cheers!
Mr. Ham

1
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 1 year ago

Thanks :)

1
terrefirmax2
terrefirmax2

1 year ago

beautifully done.

1
heyimamaker
heyimamaker

Reply 1 year ago

Thank you so much!