Plywood chess set

by ohammersmith, published

Plywood chess set by ohammersmith Aug 4, 2009

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I made this chess set for my Grandfather's 90th birthday. I laser it cut it out of 3mm birch plywood and stained the dark pieces. The board is alternating etched & bare squares.

Now that I'm back from the trip, I'm getting around to posting the designs up.

I hope to make another set, maybe with etched or a scored pattern for the dark pieces, rather than having to stain them and wait for all that boring drying.

I designed it in SketchUp. First I snagged some standard looking models for chess pieces from the warehouse. Then I scaled the king to a height of 85mm and scaled the rest to match (pretty closely) the same base size as the king. I drew two 90-degree planes through each one and made them components. Then I intersected one face of the plane with the rest of the model and got the lines I wanted. I pulled out that new face to 1/2 the width of the ply and did the same to the other side. Intersecting the two parts got me the lines for the notches.

A good bit of twiddling later, I used the SVG from SketchUp faces plugin to export one face of each of the parts. I've noticed the newer version gives much smoother paths, I think there are some gaps in the current version of the files I'm uploading.

Note: I've updated the svg files using the newer version of the SVG plugin, which does a single path. It cuts much cleaner. I have not, however, updated the EPS with all the pieces laid out on a single board. I'm leaving it here, just in case someone wants it.

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its 3mm plywood + spraypaint :)


What material did you use? Looks like it might be painted wood?

I made a 3 player chess set and used your figures.

Thank you for that awesome design.

Find my 3 player chess here http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

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Laser cut the pieces, twice. Stain or somehow color the dark pieces. Fit them together and glue.

Take note of the "intentional" key-ing of the bases, the 3-tab will only fit one way. The center tab is half a millimeter bigger than all the other tabs.

For the board, cut it out and then run the black squares over it at a 100% speed, 100% power to get a nice golden color. I've added pictures of the board now that the second copy is done.

They're up on etsy now, if you'd rather buy than build, see etsy.com/listing/39512877/laser-cut-chess-set


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overflo on May 11, 2011 said:

I made a 3 player chess set and used your figures.

Thank you for that awesome design.

Find my 3 player chess here http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

ohammersmith on May 11, 2011 said:


What material did you use? Looks like it might be painted wood?

augpaws on Nov 7, 2010 said:

Thank you for posting the pieces, It was exactly what I was looking. I am going to make a giant chess set out of the pattern and foam board.

ohammersmith on Nov 22, 2010 said:

You gotta post pics when you do that.

Anonymous on Jan 18, 2010 said:

love to make this but can you make a corel file? I'm good with the laser, but not with file translation yet

ohammersmith on Jan 20, 2010 said:

I'll have to save off the converted files the next time I'm at TechShop and post 'em.

QuasiFandango on Sep 11, 2009 said:

I made it out of clear acrylic... one side is clear and the other is frosted. It's a little difficult to see the difference, but that just makes the game harder. ;)

oTTo on Sep 11, 2009 said:

Your close ups are a little blurry, but I think it looks great.

The board looks amazing!

Is that what you got w/ the pattern I uploaded on plain clear acrylic?

Looks as if you may have cut the border, vs making it a score line, doesn't look like you have the little bit of a margin around the board. Is that intentional?

Anonymous on Aug 9, 2009 said:

Just a suggestion - it would be far easier and faster to stain your plywood *before* lazzoring the pieces.

For the board, instead of etching half the surface, you could try staining one side of the plywood, cut out all the squares, and turn half of them over.

Alternatively, you can buy some light and dark colored veneer sheets and glue them to the plywood before cutting out the pieces...

oTTo on Aug 9, 2009 said:

With the first set, I wasn't sure if I wanted to stain the dark set... the second go around I wasn't sure if I ought to be burning the stain. Though earlier today someone suggested something I wish I had thought of beforehand. He suggested lasering the pieces, but leaving them in the board as-is and staining them all as one.

Anyway, at least it didn't take too long to stain separately. :-P

FlightsOfIdeas on Aug 5, 2009 said:

Hi Otto,

Where are you getting the gaps in your SVG exporting? Does it affect the laser cutting? I'll take a look at the files and see what's happening with the SVG exporter :-D


oTTo on Aug 5, 2009 said:

Let me know if there's anything I can do to track it down. I just installed 0.91 over the weekend and it seems to export much cleaner lines... especially if I do paths, Illustrator sees it as a single complex path.

I plan to re-export and re-upload with the newer version.

And, yes, it does seem to affect the laser cutter. I end up with parts of the bottom layer not quite cut out... though a 2nd pass tends to clean it up just fine and let me pop out the pieces.