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Make a Hardware Chess Set

19 September 2010 25,685 views 26 Comments

by heather

I guess I'm not the only one who visits the hardware store and sees everything as a potential crafty material! Julia made her own chess set from hardware pieces like nuts and bolts. This would be a fun gift for any chess aficionado, or maybe for that hard-to-buy-for guy in your family (holiday gifts, anyone?) Julia's process is detailed in this post from Make. [how to make a hardware chess set] [julia's flickr]

Julia used Rustoleum paint to color the second team's pieces. She recommends putting felt on the bottom of the pieces if you want to keep from scratching your chess board. I would recommend those felt pad stickers you can buy at the dollar store.

Project Estimate:

  • Various nuts, bolts, screws, and threaded rod, $10 (estimate)
  • Rustoleum paint, $5
  • Felt or cork pad stickers, $1
  • Chess board, on hand

Total: $16 and up

Updated: Check out Julia's flickr stream for the configurations of all the pieces. She has each piece "exploded" with the pieces in order so you can see how she put them together:

  • King exploded and then how the king is put together: 1/2 " threaded rod 4" long. From the bottom is screwed a flanged hex nut, a regular washer, an internally toothed washer, a long-sleeve hex nut, a circular washer, an externally toothed washer. Topped with a castle nut.
  • Bishop exploded and then how the bishop is put together: 1/2" threaded rod 3" long. On the very bottom a flanged hex nut, then an inverted castle nut, a regular washer, an externally toothed washer. Topped of with a cap nut
  • Knight exploded and then how the knight is put together: 1/2" hex bolt (about 2 or 2.5" long) with, from the bottom:  a flanged hex nut, an externally toothed washer, then a butterfly nut. Julia constructed the knight with the butterfly nut near the bottom of the screw, which is an abstract look for the knight. Some have suggested the butterfly nut be screwed closer to the top, but I wonder if this affects the balance of the piece? You'll know when you put it together. Comment back to let us know.
  • Pawn exploded and then how the pawn is put together: 1/2 " hex bolt 1 1/2 " long. and one flanged hex nut
  • Rook exploded and then how the rook is put together: 1/2" threaded rod with a flanged hex nut on bottom and a castle nut on top
  • Queen exploded and then how the queen is put together: 1/2" carriage bolt 3 1/2 " long. From the bottom is screwed a flanged hex nut, then an internally toothed washer, a long sleeve hex nut, and 4 externally toothed washers

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  • Care said:

    I love this!!

  • Kathryn said:

    Fabulous idea!

  • Jonathan Frei said:

    Fun idea. Might even be able to skip the paint if you find all the parts in both colors…

  • Audra said:

    This is AWESOME!

  • somedaycrafts said:

    Totally cool! I am featuring this at my site and giving you the credit for finding it! Love it!

  • Brandon said:

    Could you upload your detailed breakdown of bolts and fasteners, please?

  • heather (author) said:

    @Brandon, check out Julia’s flickr stream for the configurations of all the pieces. She has each piece “exploded” so you can see how she put them together, in order: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsuits/with/3340377026/. I updated the post to put links to all the pieces.

  • Amanda said:

    What a totally cool idea!

  • DIY Holiday Gifts - Esculon Says said:

    […] detailed instructions at Dollar Store […]

  • Hardware Chess Set · Home and Garden @ CraftGossip said:

    […] the hardware chess set at Dollar Store […]

  • Amanda said:

    Hey Heather! Featured this on Craft Gossip today, very cool find ;) http://homeandgarden.craftgossip.com/hardware-chess-set/

  • Staci said:

    It’s so hard to find good ideas for the boys. This one is awesome!

  • Bobbie said:

    Hi Heather,

    I shared this from my fan page on FB because it was so awesome!

  • Beth said:

    I would love to know where you were able to find all the nuts and bolts for around 10 dollars it was over 60 at Lowes and I was massively disapointed.

  • heather (author) said:

    @Beth, I just guesstimated the cost estimate, sooo sorry for undershooting and causing distress!

  • rhonda said:

    Instead of buying things like this at major chain stores, I’ve found a local discount store that sells all kind of things from kitchen wares to hardware, and has nuts/bolts/etc. for just a few cents a piece. I’ve been in similar stores in other towns as well. It might take a little hunting, but it would be possible to do it on a budget!

  • Ginger said:

    Love this idea!

    Just posted about this, along with our “Top Drawer from the Dollar Store” Christmas party over on Sweet Iced Tea!


  • Brock Lobster said:

    I made a gdocs spreadsheet listing all required nuts/bolts/pieces:


  • Brock Lobster said:

    So I went to Home Depot a few days ago to try and make this set. Didn’t work. Not even close. They didn’t have nearly half of the fasteners needed.

    Also, $10 for all of these loose nuts and bolts is a total joke. I’m guessing this chess set is going to be closer to $100 when all is said and done.

    I would not expect a general hardware store to stock the variety of nuts and bolts needed for this set. I’m adding Mcmaster.com part numbers to this list to make things easier (although if you buy at their prices you’ll be spending lots and LOTS of money).

    I’m using ½”-13.

  • NancyO said:

    I haven’t made this yet, but I took the direction, copied, pasted, multipled, and organized the nuts and bolts.

    For all of you who are looking for a more detailed shopping list:
    1/2 ” hex bolt 1 1/2 ” long. x16
    1/2″ hex bolt (about 2 or 2.5″ long) x4

    1/2″ carriage bolt 3 1/2 ” long x2

    1/2 ” threaded rod 4″ long x2
    1/2″ threaded rod 3″ long x4
    1/2″ threaded rod (for rook) x4

    butterfly nut. x4
    cap nut x4
    castle nut x10
    flanged hex nut x32
    long sleeve hex nut x4

    externally toothed washers x18
    internally toothed washer x4
    circular washer x2
    regular washer x6

  • NancyO said:

    @ Beth, $60 at the big box stores? You must have had to buy package. Check websites like boltdepot.com .. I have almost all of the nuts and bolts in my card and my total is $35

  • Hardware Store DIY | Broke-Ass Stuart's Goddamn Website said:

    […] In addition to chain accessories, consider bolts and nuts. Screw enough odds and ends together and it’s pretty easy to work up a set of candle holders, or even a chess set. […]

  • Katy said:

    Thank you for posting these instructions!!! I have been going crazy trying to buy enough chess pieces for my copyright chess game. It has 9 pawns and 2 to 4 players can play. It uses 4 chess set up pieces in different colors. Was going to cost over $150 just for the pieces due to the extra pawn..I love the Hardware Store for my craft projects!! U r amazing..

  • Katy said:

    I went to NAPA Auto today and purchased the hardware for $30..FYI

  • Zero said:

    Not even close to 16$, the nuts and bolts alone are easily 50$+, just check your local hardware store. The set is awesome but much pricier than I expected once I started gathering materials