Make Your Own Futuristic Chessboard with This Handy Guide

It's time to give chess the modern upgrade it needs with this DIY project.
Christopher McFadden

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Bored of your old bog-standard wooden chessboard? Then why not consider making your own futuristic chessboard with this great guide?

diy chessboard complete
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

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With everything in hand, it is time to get on with the build.

Step 1: Make the molds for the epoxy chess pieces

The first step is to make some molds of the existing chess pieces. To do this, glue some small pieces of plastic to the base of each type of piece and then build a box around them using lengths of plastic. 

diy chess board molds
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

With that complete, mix your rubber mold mix as required. Spray a layer of Loctite (or similar) over each chess piece, and then submerge each one in the rubber mix as needed.

Leave the rubber to cure. 

diy chess board epoxy
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

Once the rubber has cured, remove each mold from its plastic boxing and pull out each wooden chess piece. 

Step 2: Make the new chess pieces

With that done, mix up your clear epoxy mix. Add some colored dye to the mix if desired. With that done, pour the epoxy into each rubber mold as needed. 

diy epoxy chess pour
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

Ensure you keep the molds under a little pressure so that they can maintain their shape as the epoxy cures. Once the epoxy is dry, remove the pieces from their molds as needed. 

If you intend on using the molds again be careful not to overly damage them at this stage. 

diy epoxy chess clean up
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

Once the epoxy chess pieces are removed, clean them up and trim off any excess parts as required. Sand down any cut edges of the pieces to ensure they are smooth and flat where needed.

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With that done, polish the pieces too. Next, grab your Dremel tool, excavate a hole in the base, and glue a small metal magnet into place on each piece. 

Step 3: Make the chessboard

With that pieces done, we can now turn our attention to the board. 3D print the various squares of the board as needed. Each square should be an open-topped cuboidal box shape, as shown in the video.

Next, print the darker squares in fluorescent plastic. Clean up the 3D printed pieces as needed. Once done, assemble the dark and light pieces into a chessboard configuration. 

diy chessboard cubes
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

Glue the pieces together as needed and glue a frame around them using strips of plastic card or wood and fill any gaps where needed.

With that done, mark out points along each edge in the middle of each square and sink a hole through them. 

Then add your 3D printed numbers and letters to denote each rank and file. 

diy chess board row numbers
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

Next, make and affix a base to the bottom of the chessboard. You can then also make some feet for the board affix to the base.

Step 4: Install the lights

Next, take a series of small magnets, LED lights, and reed switches. Glue the switches into the middle of each cube, as shown in the video. Next, glue the LED lights into each of the rank and file icons. 

Wire all the LED lights together, and then add a short length of LED strip lights into each cube. 

diy chessboard lights
Source: CraftStation/YouTube

Add another strip light to the underside of the chessboard too. Then wire up all the lights and switches as shown and install the control circuits. 

With that done, paint the outside boxing of the board as needed. Once the paint is dry, your DIY chessboard is ready to go.

If you enjoyed this project, you might enjoy making some other desktop games. How about these three made from cardboard

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