Chess Pieces From PVC Pipe & Fittings

Introduction: Chess Pieces From PVC Pipe & Fittings

About: Retired from biotechnology company, PhD in Biochemistry (MIT).


This Instructable shows how to make a set of chess pieces from PVC pipe and fittings. Your choice of pipe fittings may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from what is available when you shop – use your best judgement. My chess set ended up somewhat modernistic (i.e. use your imagination and squint a little). The white pieces have white, PVC, irrigation-pipe shafts; the “black” pieces have gray, PVC, conduit shafts. If you can’t get used to this subtle color difference, I suppose you could spray paint all of the black pieces. My chess board is a little small for the ½” fittings here. BTW, you could scale this up using 2”, 3”, or 4” pipes and fittings for a giant-sized set. And it could be used as an outdoor chess game.

Step 1:

Step 2: Materials Etc.

Materials (See photos in Step 4.)

About 6’ white, 1/2” irrigation PVC pipe (You'll have to buy a 10’ length, and you'll have plenty.)

About 6’ gray, 1/2” conduit PVC pipe (You'll have to buy a 10’ length, and you'll have plenty.)

20x 1/2” slip (female) to 3/4 “ slip (male) adapters (These will be bases for the pawns & castle tops.)

16x 1/2” slip (female) to 1/2” slip (female) connectors (These will be bases for the other pieces.)

(Buying two 10X “contractor” packs may be cheaper than buying them separately.)

4x 1/2” slip 90^o (female) connectors (These will be for the knight tops.)

6x 1/2” slip (female) to threaded (male) adapters (These will be for the bishop & king tops.)

2x 1/2" slip (female) to threaded (female) adapters (These will be for the queen tops.)

2x 1/2" threaded (female) caps (These will be for the king tip-tops.)

Cost The total will be around $25.

Tools & Methods I cut the pipes with a rotary cutter (pictured). But you could use a scissor-type cutter or a hacksaw. You’ll also need a hammer (for tapping the fittings on), some Vaseline, and maybe a file or sandpaper (for taking off burrs).

Step 3: Cut the Pipe Segments

You’ll need sixteen 2” pieces (8 white & 8 gray) for the pawns; twelve 2.5” pieces (6 white & 6 gray) for the castles, knights, and bishops; and four 3” pieces (2 white & 2 gray) for the kings and queens.

Step 4: Assemble the Pieces

Look at the pictures. Grease-up the shaft ends with a little Vaseline, and tap on the fittings with some gentle hammering. You may have to remove burrs from the pipe pieces before assembly.

That’s it, you're done – no gluing required!

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    3 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Ingenious, DHagen! I would recommend going ahead and spray-painting the black set and I'll tell you why. Expert chest players subconsciously recognize and analyze the visual patterns of the pieces on the board, and your color scheme would certainly interfere with that.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for the comments ... I'm no expert at chess, so gray worked for me.


    2 years ago

    This is an interesting way to make custom chess pieces!