I have always been wanting to make a chess board, and when I saw the PVC pipes lying in front of me, I immediately thought chess pieces and jumped into making this, which also strikes to me as a great gift idea.
After making this, I have realised that there are many fun and unique ways to make a chess board, with variation in the shape of the pieces, the board and the colour themes.
I decided on this theme after I looked at many reference images.
The overall look of the chess set is a jungle or a forest theme and the colour was inspired from an oak tree with red leaves and another with green leaves. The shapes of the pieces for the chess on the other hand, were purely random, with the PVC pipes being cut according to each pieces' measurement at random shapes. This step is extremely imaginative and can be replaced with any cutting pattern.
I really want to start making more themed chess sets and I hope this inspires many others too. :)
Step 1: Materials
1. Electrical conduit pipe 20mm - 2 meteres
2. PVC pressure pipe 20mm - 1 metre
3. PVC elbows 90 - x 4
4. PVA wood glue
5. Acrylic paint (Burnt umber, Hookers Green Dark, Mars Black, Crimson, Titanium white)
6. Pipe cutter
7. Cardboard 24 x 24 cm (or glass or any other material for the base)
8. Utility Knife
9. Ruler or Measuring tape
10. Manual drilling tool
11. Twine (any colour)
13, Paint Brush
14. Tooth brush
15. p120 grit Sanding paper
16. Paper towels
17. Masking tape (better than clear tape as this can be painted over)
Step 2: Chess Board Frame Cutting and Measuring
1. Measure 25cm of the PVC pressure pipe and mark using a pencil or a marker
2. Cut the measured pipe length using a pipe cutter (pipes can even be cut with strings, the pipe cutter was much easier)
3. Lay the cut pipes and the elbows in place and connect them
4. Place the glass or cardboard in the middle to adjust any fittings
5. Mark the pipe fitting measured (accurately for the board to fit in) at each end of the elbow
6. Remove the board for now and set the frame aside for painting
(The pictures show a glass board as I initially planned to use it, but was broken during the process and I had to replace it with cardboard. Also, for the pipes to easily slide through the elbows, use any grease or even moisturiser)
Step 3: Painting the PVC Frame
I decided to go for a forest or jungle theme and painted the frame in brown and green. I looked up painting PVC pipes and discovered that after sanding, if painted, the pipes give a woody texture and look. Although, a better tool for sanding would've provided a much more prominent look, than using the sanding paper.
1. Sand the cut PVC pipes using p120 grit sanding paper in a vertical motion top to bottom
2. Sand the elbows in the same pattern
3. Paint the pipes in Brown (burnt umber) and wipe off any excess with an absorbent paper or towel
4. Repeat the same for the elbows with dark green paint and set both aside for drying
Step 4: Measuring and Cutting of the Chess Pieces
In general, chess pieces are in height order, starting with the king being the tallest and the pawns being the shortest. The diameter of the pieces also need to only be around 75% of the measurement of each square in the board. The electrical conduit pipes although not 75% of the squares (it is more than that), was the smallest diameter that I could find.
1. Decide the height of the pieces with not more than 5cm difference between the height of the king and the pawns.
2. Measure the height of the pipe using a marker and cut with the pipe cutter
3. Measure out the height of the piece using a ruler on a board paper
4. Cut the board paper, roll and fit into the pipe to get an accurate diameter and tape
5. Do this for all the pieces and set aside
Step 5: Designing the Chess Pieces
After cutting the pipes to the intended height and also cutting out the board rolls, I started to cut the pipe in random shapes and fitting them into the rolled board paper in a random order. Once I liked the look of it, I initially decided to drill a hole through the pieces and tie them with twine, but since drilling manually was difficult, I decided to simply tie them with twine and gluing them with PVA wood glue
1. Cut the measured piece of pipe in any random shape or follow as in the pictures
2. Arrange the cut pieces on the rolled board paper, being sure not to go over the height of the rolled paper
3. Mark the places to drill the hole through using a marker and drill (can skip this step)
4. Sand all the cut pieces (Gives a great matte finish after painting)
5. Tie the pieces with twine around the rolled board paper until everything is tight in place and apply PVA glue to secure
6. Set aside all pieces for drying
Step 6: Making More Pieces With Different Shapes
1. Cut out the length of pipe needed for every piece and come up with any imaginative design for each piece or follow the above images. These show the Knights, Rooks, and Pawns.
Step 7: Time to Paint Again
1. Paint each piece with a grey colour as the first layer using a paint brush
2. Dip a tooth brush into red paint and dab across the grey paint randomly
3. Use green paint for the opposite chess pieces with the grey undercoat and set aside for drying
Step 8: Chess Board Measurement and Design
Chess boards are generally 8 squares x 8 squares with a total of 64 squares. With my cardboard measuring 24 x 24 cm, I decided to make each square 3 cm x 3 cm.
1. Paint the board in light grey and let it dry
2. Draw the squares on the board using a pencil measuring with a ruler
3. Cut the ends of the cardboard at each line and run a twine around it to create the squares (weaving can also be done to ensure perfect fit)
4. Take the toothbrush and dip in red paint and dab across the board randomly
5. Repeat the same with green paint
6. Paint the alternate squares with dark grey paint for the alternate colours of the chess board and let it dry (or use a hair dryer to speed up the process)
7. Apply some PVA glue to hold the twine in place along the board
8. Fit the board into the PVC frame and after a perfect fit, use PVA glue to hold the pressure pipes and elbows in place and set aside for drying