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Make a tool chess set

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

Making your own chess set can be as easy as digging around in your dad’s spare parts drawer.

Wing nuts, anchor caps, bolts, washers and a few other odd pieces of specialty hardware are all you need to make your own version of the “tool chess” set.


Total cost: An hour’s time and less than $10. And if you ever lose a piece, you can make another for next to nothing!

Remember: You need a total of 16 pawns, four rooks (also called castles), four knights, four bishops, two kings and two all-powerful queens. And you’ll need to paint one set a different color.

Follow the instructions below, or spend some time browsing at the hardware store for pieces to customize your set.

You’ll also need to get some white glue, spray paint, pliers and a screwdriver.


For each pawn (16):

  • 5/16 by 3/4-inch hexagonal (six-sided or regular) cap bolts
  • 5/16-inch hexagonal nuts

Thread nut onto bolt until 1/4 inch of bolt rises above the nut. Glue in place.


For each rook (4):

  • 5/16 by 1 1/2-inch hexagonal nut sleeve anchors

Use sleeve anchor as is.


For each knight (4):

  • 1/4 by 2-inch eye bolts with nuts

Thread nut onto eye bolt until edge of bolt is even with nut. Glue in place by applying glue to the threads of the bolt, twisting on the nut, then wiping off the excess.


For each bishop (4):

  • 5/16 by 1 1/2-inch hexagonal cap bolts
  • 5/16-inch wing nuts
  • 5/16-inch locking nuts with nylon inserts

Thread wing nut onto bolt. Thread insert lock onto bolt, and tighten. Secure wing nut against insert lock.


For each king (2):

  • 3/16-inch hollow wall anchors (long)
  • No. 14 finishing washers
  • 1/4-inch flat washers
  • 1/4-inch wing nuts
  • 1/4-inch anchor caps

Grip end of hollow wall anchor with pliers, tighten screw with screwdriver until metal strips flair out. Remove center screw, add finish washer, replace screw into wall anchor. Add flat washer. Thread wing nut onto screw end, then tighten anchor cap to end of screw.


For each queen (2):

  • 3/16-inch hollow wall anchors (short)
  • No. 14 finish washers
  • 1/4-inch wing nuts
  • 5/16-inch external toothed washers
  • 1/4-inch nylon insert locks

Tighten screw of hollow wall anchor as for kings. Remove center screw, add finish washer, replace screw into wall anchor. Thread wing nut onto screw end upside down. Then add toothed washed and tighten locking nut to end of screw.


Spray paint one team. While it dries, practice saying “Checkmate!” and you’re ready to play.

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10 Comments on Make a tool chess set

  1. Luigi99999 // July 4, 2007 at 5:59 pm // Reply

    Sounds pretty sweet!! I’d LOVE to try it!

  2. Spartan 188 // July 3, 2007 at 6:10 pm // Reply

    Sounds so cool I want to do it right about…Now!

  3. legofreak1000 // July 3, 2007 at 9:56 am // Reply

    I love chess & it sounds awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    This ROCKS!

  5. I get it.

  6. CAII me to play ches with you.

  7. sounds CHEAP!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. the problem // June 30, 2007 at 7:13 pm // Reply


  9. that is the coolest chess set I have ever seen.

  10. I love chess, but I have a baby brother who roams around the house. While he does, he picks up a lot of things. If one of those nuts or bolts fall of my chess table, he might choke on it. If he didn’t, I would of LOVED to make it & play with it.

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