Introduction: Star Trek TOS Tri-Dimensional Chess Set

I was watching the original series of Star Trek (TOS) and saw the Tri-Dimensional chess set that Kirk and Spock play. I decided I want to indulge my geeky side and buy one. After searching online for days without finding what I wanted, I decided to make one out of wood and acrylic sheets. Above I have included a frame from the show, the chessboard plan from above, the chessboard plan from the side, and my version.


-256 square inches of acrylic or polycarbonate

-Xacto or hobby knife


-Steel ruler or precision square

-Spray paint of your desired color for the chessboard. Make sure it sticks to plastic.

-Spray paint of your desired color for the support frame.

-Painter's tape

-Thick plywood


-Something to attach the attack boards

-Chess pieces

-220 grit and 120 grit sandpaper

-About two weeks' worth of empty evenings

-Jigsaw (or other way to cut out the support frame)

Step 1: Buy Some Chess Pieces (​I Suppose You Don't Have to Start With This Step, I Just Started Here So I Would Know What Size to Make the Squares on the Board)

I went down to the closest thrift store and bought the best chess set I could find. I found a nice glass set that would go with the futuristic theme. I didn't come with a board which is perfect because I don't need one. The whole thing was three dollars. Only one piece (a knight) was noticeably chipped.

Step 2: Buy a Acrylic Sheet. (I Forgot an Image for This Step)

I found a small acrylic sheet at Lowe's for cheap and bought it. Remember, you need to figure out how big you want your squares to be. You need 64 squares (16 on the 3 big boards, and 4 on the 4 attack boards) of however big you want, I made them two inches. For my boards, I needed 128 square inches of acrylic.

Step 3: Cut Your Boards and Drill Them.

I found my boards to be just over eight inches by just over nine inches. I used a Xacto knife to score the acrylic so I could snap it. I cut off the other inch to make boards that were 8x8. I then drilled the holes for the attack board positions (more about that later). When drilling holes in acrylic, be very careful not to push too hard or go too fast, you can break the boards this way (I did it twice and had to get new acrylic sheets).

Step 4: Tape Your Boards for Painting.

Remove the plastic covering on one side of the boards and cover that side fully in tape. Make sure you overlap the tape a little to prevent paint in the wrong spots.

Step 5: Measure the Lines for the Checkerboard Pattern.

Use a pen and a ruler and make a mark every two inches on the edge of your taped boards. When done, draw a line from one mark to the one completely opposite. You will end up with a grid pattern.

Step 6: Cut Out Your Sqaures.

Use a Xacto knife and cut the tape along the lines you made in the previous step. Once you have done that for every board, peel every other square out. You should be left with a checked pattern with green and transparent. Do this to every board.

Step 7: Figure Out What You're Going to Do for the Attack Board Supports.

I found some weird nuts and bolts at home depot. They attach to each other to form a rod that's two inches tall with discs on the ends. One of the discs comes off with a tube to attach the bolt into. I glued the short end piece into the hole I had drilled. The small little tube that the screw goes into is glued through the hole I drilled. I only glued the ends that are going to be painted. Before you glue, make sure to use some sandpaper to rough up the metal so that the glue will stick.

Step 8: Paint Your Boards.

I found some blue paint at Home Depot. Read the label and make sure it sticks to plastic, this is veryimportant. Paint the boards in a well-ventilated place. One coat will be enough. The drying time depends on where you live, for me in the winter, it was dry overnight. In the pictures, you can see my attack board connecters from the previous step.

Step 9: Peel the Tape.

Peel off the tape on every board. You should be left with a checkerboard. You are now almost done with the boards. Glue in the last of the attack board connectors. Also, glue the tall pieces to the actual attack boards. Make sure to only glue where the clear squares are. The glue might rip the paint off.

Step 10: Measure Out the Support

Use the diagrams provided above to plan your support frame. Make sure the attack boards anda king can fit between the middle and top boards. Your support does not have to look like this. I opted for this version because I love the TOS design.

Step 11: Cut Out Your Support

Use a jigsaw with a blade for cutting metal to cut your support. Make sure the platforms that the boards sit on are completely level. Sand all the edges so they aren't sharp. I also cut out a TOS insignia for the base, you don't have to do this. You can just use whatever base shape you want, I chose the insignia to add that extra little design.

Step 12: Sand Your Support

Use 220 grit sandpaper to smoothen all the sides of your support. If you come across a very bumpy or not round enough part, use 120 grit sandpaper to sand it down, then move onto your 220 grit to smoothen it.

Step 13: Attach Your Support to Your Base

Use a combination of screws and wood glue to attach your support to your base. Make sure your support is perpendicular to your base.

Step 14: Paint Your Support Frame

Choose a shiny gold or silver colour to paint your base.

Step 15: Attach the Chess Boards to the Support Frame

I used some clear silicon sealant to attach the boards to the frame. As it dries, don't forget to make sure the boards are centered correctly.

Step 16: Finishing

Congrats, you have finished this chess set!

Step 17: Rules

Now that you have a tridimensional chessboard I know exactly what you're thinking: How the heck do I play this weird thing? While no official rules have been published, many people have created their own rules or guidelines. I prefer that of Jeffrey La Pointe and Micheal Grant. You can find it here. Some parts of it are impossible with this board, like the inverting of boards.

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