Hardware Chess Set

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The first time I ever saw a hardware chess set was this instructable here and I knew I had to make one for myself. I loved the concept of using commonly available hardware to make chess pieces. With the large variety of hardware available I wanted to take the inspiration that instructable gave me and build my own unique set. Years have gone by since then, and I have had various ideas floating around in my head and now I finally got around to making it.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials:
A variety of hardware pieces (I will list the specific pieces in the description for each chess piece)
1/4", 5/16" and 3/8" treaded rod
Epoxy
Citric acid (the stuff I found was in the hardware store meant for etching concrete but it is also used in canning and for making bath bombs)
Gun blue
Clear coat

Tools:
Dremel rotary tool with cut off discs and a wire sanding wheel
Drill press
Pliers

Step 2: Pawn

The pawn uses the following hardware:
1/4" × 1 1/2" threaded rod
1/4" × 1" fender washer
5/16" flat washer
1/4" flat washer
1/4" flanged nut
1/4" flanged insert nut
1/4" acorn nut

Use the dremel tool to cut a piece of 1/4" threaded rod to 1 1/2" long. Epoxy the washers together with the largest one on the bottom and the smallest on top. Make sure they are centered. Screw the flanged nut onto the threaded rod far enough that the rod will go through the washers but not stick out the other side at all. Put a little epoxy on the threads and screw the flanged insert nut onto the rod from the other end all the way down to the flanged nut. Put a little more epoxy on the threads and screw the acorn nut on top of that. Put some epoxy on the bottom of the flanged nut and center it on the stack of washers.

Step 3: Rook

Hardware:
1/4" × 1 3/4" threaded rod
1/4" × 1 1/4" fender washer
3/8" flat washer
5/16" flat washer
1/4" flat washer
1/4" flanged nut
1/4" insert nut × 2 (non tapered)
1/4" split lock washer
5/16" castellated nut (castle nut)

As with the pawn, stack the washers from largest to smallest, put the flanged nut on the rod, and the insert nuts on top of that. Use pliers to flatten the split lock washer and epoxy it on top of the insert nuts and then epoxy the castellated nut on top of that. Put epoxy on the bottom of the flanged nut and attach to the stack of washers.

Step 4: Knight

Materials:
1/4" × 2 1/2" eye bolt
1/4" × 1 1/4" fender washer
3/8" flat washer
5/16" flat washer
1/4" flat washer
1/4" flanged nut
1/4" nut × 2
1/4" split lock washer × 15
1/4" wing nut
1/4" acorn nut

Stack the washers as before. Cut the eye bolt down to 2 1/4" and cut the end off the eye to form a hook. Slide the wing nut over the end of the hook and the acorn nut onto the end. Epoxy both in place. Slide the split washers on from the other end and epoxy in place. You will likely have to do them one at a time at first to get them evenly spaced around the curve. Put the two nuts on next, followed by the flanged nut and then attach the whole thing to the washer stack.

Step 5: Bishop

Materials:
1/4" × 2 3/8" threaded rod
1/4" × 1 1/4" fender washer
3/8" flat washer
5/16" flat washer
1/4" flat washer × 2
1/4" flanged nut
1/4" × 1" spacer
1/4" × 1/2" spacer
5/16" acorn nut

Stack the washers except the second 1/4" flat washer. Put the flanged nut on the rod and attach to the washer stack. Put the two spacers on top, followed by the second 1/4" flat washer and topped with the 5/16" acorn nut.

Step 6: Queen

Materials:
5/16" × 3" threaded rod
5/16" × 1 1/4" fender washer
3/8" flat washer
5/16" flat washer × 2
5/16" flanged nut
5/16" × 1" spacer × 2
#12 finish washer
3/8" flanged nut

Stack the washers, except the second 5/16" flat washer and put the flanged nut on the rod. Attach the flanged nut/threaded rod assembly to the washer stack. Add the spacers, then the second 5/16" flat washer, the finish washer, curved upwards and finally top with the 3/8" flanged nut, upside down.

Step 7: King

Materials:
3/8" × 3 3/8" threaded rod
3/8" × 1 1/2" fender washer
5/16" × 1 1/4" fender washer
3/8" flat washer
5/16" flat washer × 2
3/8" flanged nut
3/8" nut × 2
3/8" coupling nut
1/2" square nut
1/8" steel rivet

Apparently, I forgot to take a picture of the materials before building the kings. I managed to scrounge up an example of everything except the coupling nut but it is plain to see in the finished product picture.
Drill a hole in one end of the threaded rod big enough for the shaft of the rivet to fit in. Cut the rivet shaft shorter so you don't have to drill as deep. Drill the center of the 5/16" fender washer bigger if it won't fit over the rod. Stack the washers, except the second 5/16" flat washer, and put the flanged nut on the end of the rod that does not have the hole. From the other end, add a 3/8" nut, then the coupling nut, 5/16" flat washer and the other nut. Top with the square nut and insert the rivet into the hole you drilled in the rod. Attach to the washer stack.

Step 8: Finishing

Mix up the citric acid in a plastic container and put the chess pieces in. Let soak for about 1 1/2 hours to dissolve the zinc coating. It doesn't seem to give off any fumes doing this but I would put it in a well ventilated area just to be safe. Once the zinc has dissolved, rinse the pieces with water and dry them off. Then polish them up with the wire wheel in your dremel. Give half of the pieces two coats of gun blue, rinsing with water, drying and polishing after each coat. Finally, give them all a couple light coats of protective clear coating.

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    20 Discussions

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    abductd51

    2 months ago

    love the castle nuts for the rooks.. and I thought they were for axle bearings :)

    1 reply
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    me-again100abductd51

    Reply 2 months ago

    Been using them wrong for years lol. Glad you like them.

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    AnandM54

    2 months ago

    Amazing idea and did it amazed !! Great instructable ..

    1 reply
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    dorkette

    2 months ago

    This is absolutely amazing! I almost wish I enjoyed chess :)

    1 reply
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    hanssen

    2 months ago

    Great!

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    UkeDog

    2 months ago

    Way cool! Your knight, in particular, is genius!

    1 reply
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    me-again100UkeDog

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you. The knight definitely took the most time (to figure out and to actually make). Glad you like it.

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    jeanneambro

    2 months ago

    This is seriously cool! I'm adding this to my to-do list!! Thanx for sharing. :-)

    1 reply
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    Jack A Lopez

    Question 2 months ago

    Is the chessboard, pictured in the Intro Step, made from materials from the hardware store as well? It kind of looks like tile, uh... from the tile aisle, if you'll forgive the rhyme.
    ;-)

    Is that what I am looking at? That is: little pieces of black and white tile? I am wondering what is the nominal size of these little tile squares, if that is what they are.

    You did not write any words describing the chessboard.

    However, your descriptions of how to make the chess pieces, are clear, and I think you did a brilliant job with those.

    1 answer
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    me-again100Jack A Lopez

    Answer 2 months ago

    Yes, the chessboard is tile from the hardware store. I am currently making the board for the set and that is what the top will be. I will post an instructable for the board when it is complete (assuming it turns out). For now though, they are 2" square tiles (actual size is more like 1 7/8"). They were sold in 12" squares held together by small dabs of glue which was easy to cut apart. One black one and one white gives more than enough to make a chessboard.