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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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50 Comments on How to Make a Hardware Chess Set

  1. you are really cool who did this have fun bye

  2. hey runescape is a game where poeple fight and dont say lol (it means laugh out loud)

    i play runescape its a game were poeple do quest and type stuff to each other add me (shin902) if you ever get on

  3. anyone play runescape its a chess game i love chess!!!!

  4. that looks so cool!

  5. that looks so cool!

  6. this is cool…im totally gonna make it…i think its totally awesome

  7. hey…this is awesome…i totally am going to make it…thanx for the idea!!!!

  8. i love chess and i think it is awesome

  9. BadgerCam // June 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm // Reply

    Who care if chess is cool or not, its fun! I am a nerd and think these set is sweet! The only thing I would add is how to make a board out of some kind of like metal.

  10. Is the spray paint part a mess to do?

  11. Zachattack // March 25, 2008 at 8:05 am // Reply

    For the king and queen pieces, the instructions call for a 3/16 wall anchor and 1/4 inch wing nuts. These are supposed to be the same or else they won’t fit. Otherwise, this is really cool!

  12. bealtles luver132 // March 24, 2008 at 3:52 pm // Reply

    hey cool chess set maby i will do the same thing only cange it a bit

  13. Doogielas` // March 22, 2008 at 5:31 pm // Reply

    It is a very intriguiging to me. That means it is wicked cool.

  14. reflection // March 16, 2008 at 3:58 pm // Reply

    I made a chess board I made out of tile that i have been planning to use this set with

  15. I really want to make this! Great job!

    I LOVE chess! And don’t worry, it still isn’t cool (wait, why shouldn’t you worry?). But I don’t care. Chess is chess! Checkmate on!

  16. I’m so happy to read that so many people think my chess set idea is cool. I loved making it up. I made a bunch of pieces that didn’t work, some kept falling over, others just didn’t look right. It took a while to get just the right nuts and bolts together. Have fun making it and keep writing so I can read how your projects are going. I loved paying chess in school, and it wasn’t cool then either… especially for a girl! Who cares, it’s a great game.


  17. sargent bedford // November 12, 2007 at 5:35 pm // Reply

    not medival medicoooolllnice work dude give me 5

  18. i havent madfe this

  19. I think it is very cool how you can make fun stuff like a chess set with things from around the house.

  20. interesting

  21. COOL

  22. It would be a good way to make money but would take while

  23. awesome dude where did u get the idea

  24. I am soo doing that like NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. karl franz // July 31, 2007 at 7:44 pm // Reply

    this looks like a pretty good way to gt rid of those extra nuts and bolts while having fun doing it. Its a good present to!=)

  26. cool:

  27. Derrick, Age 10, Florida // July 26, 2007 at 12:00 pm // Reply

    I haven’t made it yet, but I think I’m gonna try it next weekend with my dad. I’m on the school chess team and am pretty good, so this is defnitely something I would like to do. It looks a little hard though, but then, so are most of the other project ideas! Thanks for the cool chess set idea!

  28. thats cool a ches set wid tools

  29. It’s Too Cool Tool Chess Set. I can’t wait to make it with my dad.

  30. cheesy man // July 10, 2007 at 12:57 pm // Reply

    it isnt a good idea because of global warming lol!

  31. cheesy man // July 10, 2007 at 12:57 pm // Reply

    i hate chess!!!!!!!!!!!


  33. me dude 53 // July 8, 2007 at 11:32 am // Reply

    this is so cool I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. Peter Criss // July 7, 2007 at 4:21 pm // Reply

    That looks so cool- I can’t wait to make it! I’m gonna try to find a way to make a cool chessboard out of those things

  35. But can you make a cool chessboard out of things like that?

  36. I love chess and this chess set is so COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  37. I love chess. IT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. GREAT!! Keep it up BL!!

  39. no body likes chess in my shool but me,when i show em’ this set they will wont to play!!

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

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

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

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

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

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


    This ROCKS!

  44. I get it.

  45. CAII me to play ches with you.

  46. sounds CHEAP!!!!!!!!!!!

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


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

  49. 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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