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How to Make a Hardware 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 this “hardware chess” set.


Total cost: An hour’s time and less than $25. 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.

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

You’ll also need the following:

  • White glue
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • Small plastic container
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver

Submerge half of the nuts and bolts in the vinegar overnight. This will create one light set and one dark set of pieces. It’s best to do this before assembling the pieces.

You could also choose to spray paint half of the pieces instead. If you go with this option, it’s best to paint the pieces after they’re assembled.


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):

  • 1/4-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):

  • 1/4-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.


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3 Comments on How to Make a Hardware Chess Set

  1. JOE!!! THE GREAT // June 15, 2024 at 11:50 am // Reply

    hi this looks cool

  2. H. e. L. L. O.

  3. Willieillieillie // January 5, 2022 at 3:51 pm // Reply

    I will definitly try this,i might weld a base though

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