Giant Chess





Introduction: Giant Chess

Whilst an artist in residence at Instructables, I took up playing chess at lunch times against Dave. With chess on the brain, when I went home at night I noticed that the black and white tiled kitchen of the family I was staying with would be PERFECT for a game of giant chess.

Looking online to see what was already available, I found three problems:
1) Size: none of the sets advertised as giant, were actually very big
2) Ease of storage: all of the sets I found online were injection moulded plastic. I'd need a lot of space to store them!
3) Price: for a truly giant chess set I'd need to shell out $300+.

My solution was a simple laser cuttable giant chess set made from a light and strong plastic material called Coroplast, it's the stuff used for political and housing signs. The pieces would be comprised of two parts each that when slotted together would stand up and give a good representation of a chess piece, while being quick to disassemble and easy to store.

Anyone with access to a laser cutter with a bed size of 24" x 36" can use the included files to make their own copy of this giant chess set.

Step 1: Design & Prototyping

All of the pieces were designed in the free trial of my preferred CAD software, Alibre Design.

I first laser cut each piece from cardboard with a 6 inch base. Upon taking them back home to test them out I found I'd guessed the tile size in the kitchen wrong and so quickly scaled them up to a 9" base, giving me a king with a height of 27".

The 12 Alibre files are included in this step should you wish to modify them.

Step 2: Tools & Materials

Laser cutter
Sharp knife

7 sheets 4mm black coroplast (24"x33")
7 sheets 4mm white coroplast
a little patience

The coroplast came to about $50.

Step 3: Laser Cut

Using a 75W Epilog laser cutter I used the following settings:

Speed - 10
Power - 100
Frequency - 5000

I set the focus slightly below the top surface of the coroplast. I found with these settings it cut almost all the way through, leaving tabs where the ribs of the coroplast were. I chose these settings over a slower one which would cut all the way through to reduce melting and to get them cut quicker. A quick run round with a scalpel after cutting freed the pieces from the sheet.

Step 4: Assemble

With these chess pieces, setup is fast and easy. Choose two opposing pieces and slot them together. Due to their construction they can be taken apart as easily after each game and stored flat for convenience.

Step 5: Play!

Once your set's assembled, lay it out and have a game!

Toddlers will find this at first very interesting, then very boring.



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52 Discussions

Is there anybody who has this file but not in zip??

1 reply

Why can't you unzip it? It contains 10 or so files so it's easier to download all the files as one.


Brilliant. Gonna make this. Currently re-landscaping backyard. Going to put in 12in pavers alternated with ground cover to create a chess/checkers board. Have a friend who collects election signs who will gift them to me for my pieces. Having difficulty interpreting the designs in Inkscape for size. (Never used a program like this, but have access to a laser cutter at the local high school) Can you tell me which/how many of the pieces would fit on 24x16 pieces? He has quite a few of those. He also has a few 33x27 pieces that I'm guessing I can get the rest of the taller pieces on. Thanks much!

2 replies

If you do make some, please make sure you take some photos!

You're welcome. I've just opened the files for the first time in 5 years, I don't know why the scales are wrong, sorry. The best way I can think of to make sure your scale is right, is to make sure the slot width is the same size as the thickness of your coroplast.

I just did this for the king by ungrouping the paths and looking at the slot width. I divided 3 mm by this slot width to give me the scaling factor. After scaling the king_upper.dxf to the right size it is now 504 mm tall.

Hope that helps!


i would love to make this

Thanks for this - we don't have CAD or a laser cutter, but adapted the designs and made a similar chess set. Works well (except when windy - thinking on solutions to that!) - thank you.

1 reply

How do I download If I don't have a means to open a zipped file?

Wonderful guide! Thanks so much for sharing this.

One question: Is it possible to open this file in another CAD program other than Alibre? We don't have that program. Or could you save the original file in a format compatible with Vectorworks?

1 reply

Step 2 has vector files (DXF) that you can open in Inkscape (free) and most 2d CAD programs.

Anybody know of cheap places to acquire coroplast? Would love to recycle rather than purchase new. Seems pretty ubiquitous with all the politicians, etc.

2 replies

This is amazing! I'm sharing this info with the guys who run the chess clubs at the three schools, well done!

We have these at our school only HUGE!! like 3x the size of these and no1 ever uses them so it was kinda a waste of money

This is so totally cool. Somehow I missed it. Thanks for all your hard work making this and sharing it here! Hope your day shines!

1 reply

Nice! Great job. And I like Rimar's story, too!