Magnetic Wall Chess, With Custom Board




About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and sh...

The idea behind this instructable was based entirely around my lack of space.
I wanted to be able to play chess, both in person, and over long distance. the latter requiring a set to be set up most the time.

As i don't have the room to store a set up chess set, i decided to make a magnetic version, to be hung on the wall.

So, here we go, and bare with me, theres alot to this one.

Step 1: Getting Equipment, Materials

ok, list of equipment goes like this
  • Decent Cutting board - the larger the better
  • A sharp exacto / scapel knife
  • A sharp Stanley knife
  • plenty of spare blades
  • A A4 inkjet printer
  • A4 Laminator (optional but recommended)
  • PVA/Wood Glue

List of materials
  • Two sheets of Dense card (as in pictures below)
  • Plenty of Mountboard style card (same thickness etc)
  • 64 Small magnets, these must be the same depth as your dense cardboard! (many great sellers on ebay for these)
  • Paper (obviously)
  • 32 Magnetic washers/coins (most 1pence and 2 pence pieces are magnetic CHECK THEM FIRST THOUGH!)

Think thats it!

Step 2: Cutting the Main Board!

Firstly, you need to print off some template goodness
Templates(all the pdfs you need are found in this directory!)

Picture 1- So, using your favorite program print off the four corners, so you get something like this

Pictures 2&3- Stick these corners together, and then spray mount them to the dense board (make sure you use a temporary adhesive.

Picture 4- I started by cutting along the long curved edges leaving the corners as shown

I then took off these corners leaving me with the board cut out as in picture 5!

Now is a good time to use the first board to draw around onto your second piece of the dense board.

Cut this second piece out the same as the first.

ps. as with all the cutting in this -ible many stroke with a sharp blade works best!

Step 3: Drilling the Magnet Holes!

Picture 1- Start by marking out the centre of each square (im sorry but i forgot to do this with the computer template! so it took me longer)

Picture 2- Measure the width of your magnets, mine worked out at 4mm. Get the correct drill bit and start drilling!

The best procedure here is to have a scrap piece of wood that you can drill into - this gives a cleaner hole.

Picture 3- Drilling complete! (you can now remove the paper template)

Picture 4- neaten up the holes using your scalpel blade.

Picture 5- You should now have two boards, one with holes, one without.

Step 4: Lots of Glue!

picture 1- Squish your pva all over the board try not to block the holes!

Place the two board together, and wipe away excess glue.

Picture 2- Find something heavy to put it under, and leave over night to dry! (yes i kno, poor iMac)

Step 5: Adding the Magnets!

Picture 1- I Figured it would be best if all the magnets were either north up, or south up, this way if the coins/washes became magnetized, they would still all work! the way to ensure this is by taping one magnet as a guide.

Pictures 2- I found the easiest way to put the magnets in the holes, was to use a small stack of the coins/washers and kinda push the magnet in place, then slide the coins to one side, leaving the magnet behind.

Picture 3- Magnets all in place!

At this point i decided to stick tape over all the magnets as an extra measure this however is optional!

Step 6: Adding the Grid

Picture 1- Start off by printing the black and white grid (templates on link above)

An optional step here is to laminate each sheet - i recommend this, as it holds the magnets in better, and provides a better playing surface!

Picture 2- As with the template before stick these sections together using tape - i used scotch magic tape as it has a longer life.

Picture 3- Corners stuck together and excess trimmed off

Picture 4- Measure and mark the center on your dense magnet filled board, using a pin hold the top in place

At this point it is hard to line up the corners, i recommend shining a bright torch underneath allowing you to see the edge of the dense board. (this is how i mangaged it)

Picture 5- tape down one side of the sheet to hold it in place, then carefully lift up the other side and glue it down, un-tape the first side and glue down the second.

Picture 6- Turn the whole thing upside down, and cut off the extra around the edge!

That is the board pretty much complete.

Finishing touches may include adding felt on the underneath, or little feet.

Next we move onto the pieces!!

Step 7: Lots, and Lots of Cutting. With a Few Bonus Pressue Sores.

The pieces are made by slotting two card shapes together.

So, print out the templates ive provided, or make your own.
and stick them to the mount card.

My mount card was just under 2mm thick, so i made the gap down the middle to fit.

This can easily be adjusted by pencil, after a while you tend to get a feel for the sweet spot, for me it was cutting just down the inside of the line.

And get cutting!!! This Section Probably took me the longest.

A sharp knife is a MUST here.

And your hands would welcome some extra padding as in picture 3!

Step 8: Adding the Bases

ok, were getting there now, thanks for sticking with me!

Picture 1- here we see a nice little army of cardboard shapes from the previous step!

Picture 2- Cut out some teeny little squares, and stick them to your coins/washers and pieces. i found that if you stick the pieces to the coin/washer, then added the squares after it was easier to get a snug fit.

Pictures 3&4- Let the pieces dry over night again, now find yourself a good sharp corner, stick your cutting mat to it, and start taking off that excess around the coins!

An optional step heres it to paint the whole cardboard section of the piece with pva glue, just a coating, not too much - This makes the pieces gold together alot better.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Firstly, Paint half your pieces a different colour, i went for good old black, i was going to paint the other half white, but decided to stick with the wood like colour of the card.

Secondly, you need to figure out how you want to attach it to your wall or ceiling, the magnets hold the pieces no problem, but are not too strong.

I suggest either attaching a string accross the back, and hang it like a picture.
or you could add a metal keep towards the top.

I intend to add a special little slot bracket just for the chess set (i have no masonry drill bits at the moment - hence no pictures)

Well, we got here in the end - this project took me about a week on and off. Imbetween work,

Please do leave me comments, and i would love to see any remakes.
Also, shout out any improvements, in understand people may have better ways to do things, and im always willing to learn!

Thanks for reading this far.



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    67 Discussions


    2 years ago

    It's Very Nice
    PLS can you put a pices desinge


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 9

    I am actually working out a crazy new chess set atm.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Wondering if a few layers of that magnetic paint would be adequate to use on the board instead of planting individual magnets on each square? Then you could put the decal over the top. I picked up a quart at a garage sale for $2.00, and I may have to try just painting the chessboard onto my kids' wall.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It might work if you used penny sized magnets on the pieces, but at that point, you're better off using sheet metal on the board. The neodymium magnets are just strong enough to hold the pieces, so i can't see the magnetic paint working.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Howdy! You know what I noticed with my magnetic chessboard? The pieces migrate on their own! This is not an unexpected result as you establish complex field gradients within the board itself. Gradients which change as the game progresses and/or as the pieces migrate (of their own accord). Trick is to place the pieces squarely in the center of their respective square which allows you to keep a sharp eye out for a sneaky illegal side-slip. In castling - always move the king first (2 squares) and no two-handed chess (even with the clock). Thanks for sharing.

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi thanks for the comment! Ive found that its very hard for the pieces to jump on my set. If you place a piece half way across the line, it just sits there. I didn't plan it that way. I just go lucky! Is your set one that you made yourself?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    No I didn't build it .. store bought set perhaps a ten by ten inches .. pretty shiny metal with moderate weight plastic pieces - magnets are similarily moderately powerful ... it's not a mini - micro board ... but it's certainly not particularly large either .. nice knapsack size. Mine definitely tend to slowly creep on their own. Kinda cute actually : ) I like your non rectangular board layout ... quite clever as there is little room to move in as far as distorting board geometry without significantly affecting the 'lay of the game'. Belongs in Spocks game room aboard the Enterprise. Kirk out!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice, i would have liked to have used better materials for this one. But, i felt card was best suited for wall mounting. The board i made is actually bigger than most, i wanted a full size feel to it. The pieces are also much bigger. The reason why i made the board that shape, is that i wanted it to be different, but i also knew my fiance would never learn 3d chess. So, this set was born. Im actually looking to reproduce the board for some better pictures to go in scroll saw magazine. Got any pointers for emprovement?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is...

    TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi! First .. a BIG thank you for the inspiration! That is one great idea!! Nice work... I'm wondering where I could find the grid template? ... i can't find the link... could you help me please? and again ... thank you !

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Haha... love the "if/when" ... no doubt! i will!! Thank you for the link and the quick answer!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Why not make the pieces shorter with flat top on each, and on tops put the flat standard symbol for each piece, for wall chess use as well as instant conversion to table top.