Metal Chess Pieces

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davidyat

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Before I drive myself nuts, are there plans for a manual machinist to make chess pieces? I just made a chess board out of walnut and ash for a relative and would like to machine the chess pieces from aluminum and brass for him. I only have manual machines, mill and lathe. Thanks in advance for any help.
Grasshopper
 
I feel your pain, I went through the same exercise a few years back and all I can say is "good luck". In the end I brought a cheap plastic set and used them as templates. Didn't work and the quarter finished pieces rattle around in my scrap box. If you ever do run a decent set of plans to earth I would be very interested. Cheers, Peter.
 
Before I drive myself nuts, are there plans for a manual machinist to make chess pieces? I just made a chess board out of walnut and ash for a relative and would like to machine the chess pieces from aluminum and brass for him. I only have manual machines, mill and lathe. Thanks in advance for any help.
Grasshopper
I have made chess pieces , but in wood. The simpler types I think can be made from aluminum and brass.
Small ball turner or even just balls bought and Loctite to the tops of some pieces. Pawns , and queens come to mind. I suggest you but a cheap set of plastic chess pieces for ideas. You will have to do some free hand work. The cross on the king can be made by sawing or milling from one piece. Make the cross long so you can insert it into a hole . The rook or castle can be turned and the slots milled. The knight is usually represented by a horse head. Very difficult and time consuming to carve metal.
I made my knights like a armored knight with a face shield. This can be turned and the shield added later. I have since learned to carve a horses head.
I will suggest a way I never tried , or even thought of til now.
Set a plastic knight in plaster of paris in a small container like a tuna fish can, empty of course.
Make sure the plaster is completely dry. Heat tin or lead to a liquid and pour into the mold.
when cool, break the mold and remove any flash. This will get you a different metal than you want but spray paint will fix that. I have made flywheels from tin that came from used Typemetal. Tin will melt at a fairly low temperature. I bored the bottom of my wood pieces and packed it with bits of lead for weight. Metal chess pieces may not need this.
Try a search for turned chess pieces, maybe you can get some ideas.
mike
 
I used to make chess pieces in timber from std sizes to 6" dia x 12" high.I used a copy attachment for the lathe
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Its a while since i made any chess pieces and memories fade.I did make many sets,sizes and different materials and varies tables ,glass etc
Further to this post i have been going thru various posts/photos etc. A couple of points. Brass is a good choice but i would use s/s rather than alum to keep similar weights.I found that using softwood for the whites and hardwood for black was a bit disconcerting with the weight difference. If someone is going to make them in metal they would first need to make 1/2 profiles in sheetmetal to requ,d shape and size
Lets assume you have a myford lathe then you need to make a brkt to bolt on the back of the bed to pickup the existing T/T fixings
This would rise above the cross slide to a suitable height with a vice/clamping mechanism for the profile/template
Then a brkt and vertical pin fixed to the cross slide and adjustable back and forward. When adjusted the tool cuts the matl until the pin hits and follows the profile of the template.Makes it easy to make 16 identical pawns.Similar but with mods you can make the King,queen,rooks and bishops. You would need a mill for the rook castellation and bishop slots. King and queen i made the same with a cross on one and scallops on the other. If any one wants to make a start then maybe a joint cooperation project. Dont like the idea of painting but both sets in anodised alum
The hardest ones were always the knights which i partially turned and finished by hand. If i have the time and interest i might make a set
Keep posting Regards Barry
 
Hey Gents,
My little brother actually asked me for a chess set for xmas last year and I still havent started it. Below is some of my research for doing it. (It's bloody expensive if you are using brass, as it takes a lot of stock.)

I did consider making pieces out of a few different parts, then screwing / loctiting them together to save on chips, but the effort is multiples more.

Anyway, most of the designs I found were really quite nice, and very modern. Not sure if that is what you are looking for, but I liked them. I may actually get round to it this year! We'll see. I'll also have to make the board too... Hmm... Maybe you could share your strategy on the board too?

My issue is that I dont have a mill, so round with varying heights is probably the best option for me. Anyway, here are some of the reference pics I found!

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The board seems to be the easy part. A friend of mine, here in Indiana, removes trees and stumps. He had a lot of walnut and ash that he wanted sawn into boards. I helped and got some scraps. Dried out the scraps, went over to the table saw and sawed them into rough pieces about 1/4 X 2 X 2 inch dimensions. I then set up my bench belt sander with some home made jigs to sand the pieces square and each at the same dimension. Bought a 1/2 inch birch plywood 2 X 2 and started with the first row against a straight edge and glued the rest of the squares to that straight edge. When I checked the finished board for square (corner to corner measurement), I was only 1/16 off. I'm satisfied. I'm putting on oak edging to the board. I did 2 edges yesterday and will finish today. There will be a lot of sanding to flatten the board, then a good coat of protective finish.
Grasshopper
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I have made a no of tables in timber,tiles glass etc but the best one i have seen uses square section timber
cut into short lengths so that the end grain is to the top. The back row is say 2" high ,the pawn row say 1 1/2"
and the remaining playing area is 1"tall. This gives a 3D effect and the end grain polishes up nice. I still prefer the std
pieces,modern or picturesk piece are ok for show but difficult to play with
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Thats brilliant Cogsy they look great and would be easy to recognise/play with. I may have go
and make set.Look good and not too labour intensive
 
As @delalio's posts showed, they don't have to look like what you're used to -- they just have to be distinct, and evocative of the pieces.

I think if I just had a lathe, I'd see what I could do just by turning round pieces, and drilling, and making the occasional straight cut with a hacksaw, cleaned up with a file.

You could make a crown shape by drilling a bunch of holes cross-ways on a drill press, then turning the top off.

I think if I just had to have a horse-shaped knife, I'd start with some plate and a coping saw to make the horse-head, then turn the bottom flat and screw it to a turned base.

I'd be really tempted to make the whole shebang out of aluminum, then anodize them plain and black -- but I admit, this is because I want to learn anodizing!
 
I like all of the chess sets shown.

I have a set from Italy, made from what looks like carved bone, with Roman soldiers for the pawns, real castles for the rooks, etc.. When I first got it I showed it to a chess enthusiast, who glanced at it and haughtily remarked that, as it was not a Staunton set, "You can't play a recorded game with it."

I say, "Who cares? Play with what you like; it's only a game."
 
Here is a chess set of plans I have had on file for several years. Now that i have a metal lathe and mill ,I'll have to get to work.
 

Attachments

  • Chess Set.pdf
    4.5 MB · Views: 573
I and a friend of mine were chess enthusiasts many years ago and I have collected many unique sets over the years which include the very first set that I purchased on a grade school class trip to St.Louis, Mo back in '68. It was a classic Staunton design and was made from Ebony and Ivory. That is still my favorite set to this day and my friend and I played literally thousands of games using it. (during lunch, study halls, after school and such) Anyway, during college, there was not a great deal of time to indulge in such activities, but I set about drawing up a modernistic set in my mind and finally put them down on paper, and when I finally purchased a Sherline tabletop lathe, set about in making this set a reality. I used some very old Cherry and Hard Maple that my Grandad had varvested in the local farmland, probably back in the 20's. The bands around the bases I made from Copper on the Maple pieces and I used Brass for those markings on the Cherry pieces. The cross and crown of the king and queen pieces followed that same practice with teardrop scallops around the top. The board that I had was of two inch squares so I scaled the pieces to be one-and-one half inches in diameter and made the heights to follow that scale. Best of luck to you and I hope that this may assist you in your quest to make your own set.

BC1
Jim
 

Attachments

  • Jim's Chess Set Design.pdf
    1.3 MB · Views: 7
I realize this is an old thread, and the post I am about to comment on is > 2 years old. But just in case it is helpful ... if anyone else is planning to make a wooden chessboard, the "classic" way to do it is first to glue up "stripes" of wood, alternating the light and the dark, 4 of each. The width of each piece ("stripe") is the desired size of the square, but the length must be more than 8 times the size of the square. After the glue up has dried, the piece is turned 90° and sliced up into strips, each of which is just a bit wider than the final square dimension. Clean these up to the final dimension, then assemble and glue by flipping every other strip 180°.

Hmm ... trying to describe that in words is clear as mud, but I don't have any pictures from way-back when I last made a chess board. Maybe I can mock something up if anyone is interested ...
 
I realize this is an old thread, and the post I am about to comment on is > 2 years old. But just in case it is helpful ... if anyone else is planning to make a wooden chessboard, the "classic" way to do it is first to glue up "stripes" of wood, alternating the light and the dark, 4 of each. The width of each piece ("stripe") is the desired size of the square, but the length must be more than 8 times the size of the square. After the glue up has dried, the piece is turned 90° and sliced up into strips, each of which is just a bit wider than the final square dimension. Clean these up to the final dimension, then assemble and glue by flipping every other strip 180°.

Hmm ... trying to describe that in words is clear as mud, but I don't have any pictures from way-back when I last made a chess board. Maybe I can mock something up if anyone is interested ...
 

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