Our Favorite DIY Chess Sets

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Our Favorite DIY Chess Sets


Over the years, Make: has written about dozens of chess sets made from found objects, science fiction and fantasy figures, hardware pieces, labware, you name it. Here are just a few of our favorite sets that we’ve covered here on the site.

Have you ever made your own chess set? Tell us about it in the comments.

Hardware Store Chess Set

chessThere are so many great variations on this idea of using hardware store parts — nuts, bolts, screws, washers, etc. — to construct chess pieces.

Labware Chess

chessI bet you never thought of turning labware beakers and flasks into chess pieces, but hey, why not?

Nixie Tube Chess

chessWho isn’t fascinated by Nixie tubes? This project turns the vintage tube tech into a gorgeous chess board and set.

Alien vs. Predator Chess

chessI love chess sets that use known characters from sci-fi and fantasy universes. Here, the infamous AVP rivalry is chessified.

Improvised Battlefield Chess

chessWhen they’re on a battlefield, soldiers will use anything around them to improvise games, create art (so-called “trench art”), and basically do what they need to do to distract themselves from their grim business. Here, shells, rounds, and bottle caps are used to fashion a very serviceable chess set.

Hardware Chess Roundup

chessIn this piece from 2009, Sean Ragan features some of his favorite hardware sets that were floating through our transom at the time.

Star Wars Holochess

chessOK, everyone knows that Dejarik isn’t actual chess, but it’s chess-like and it’s extremely cool, especially as brought to life in this impressive Dejarik table project by maker Ian Martin.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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