A few days ago, I received an email from an old friend letting me know he had an “A to Z-worthy” project to share. Before we dive into his tutorial on how to make a chess board and chess men for less than $50, please allow me to introduce you to Steve. I think he is A to Z-worthy of an introduction!
I met Steve when I was nineteen. We were teenagers living in the same Virginia tourist-beach-town and attending the same small Pennsylvania Christian college. I studied psych and he studied environmental science. In the summers, Steve and I even waited tables at the same seafood restaurant. With all of that proximity going on, Steve became like a brother to me and my all-time favorite summer playmate! We spent the days boating, lounging with friends on the beach, and swimming in the Atlantic. We spent the evenings chest deep in tourists and discarded seafood buffet platters. I HATED waiting tables (and quite frankly was horrible at it), but Steve kept things entertaining during those summers. And just in case you’re raising an eyebrow right about now and wondering…because I know I would be…the answer to your question is no. We never dated or even came close to anything of the sort. Steve was truly the brother I never had and never knew I wanted! If he would have looked good in the dress, I would have had him as one of my bridesmaids :).
The years went on and Steve received his Masters in Entymology (bugs…ew) and I received my Masters in Counseling. However it was obvious to anyone with eyes that Steve lived for travel, nature, and photography and would never be content in a job that didn’t include all the above.
Okay Steve, let’s see if they think it’s A to Z-worthy :). Take it away!
How to Make a Chess Board and Chess Men
Over Christmas, I put together a Home Depot chess set for my nephews who have been playing as of late. As I was putting it together, I couldn’t help but think to myself…”Wow! This project is worthy of A to Z!”
So here is what I did. (We’ll see if you find it worthy of a post. ;))
I knew that I wanted to make it out of hardware from Home Depot–screws, bolts, nuts and the like–and that I wanted to keep it under 50 bucks. Before I could go hunting for the pieces, I had to decide what size board I wanted so the pieces would be in proportion. Also, most of the pieces you will buy go up in price as they get bigger. I decided I wanted a 20×20 inch board and then from there it was just a matter of choosing the pieces. You don’t have to limit yourself to the hardware aisle (screws, nuts, bolts), that’s just probably the most cost effective place to get it done. For my chess pieces, everything came from the hardware aisle except the Knights which were made from a piece in the section with the compression tools.
So that is the basic idea. Here are the steps:
- Select your board, veneered plywood works well, most Home Depot/Lowes will cut it to whatever size you want. Again, I chose 20×20.
- If needed, sand your board with a palm sander to ensure a smooth surface.
- Before spray painting your board, use 2” sticky notes to block off the unpainted wood squares on your board. I used 8 squares in both directions. Tip: Place pennies on the nonsticky edges of your sticky notes so paint doesn’t seep underneath. Use painter’s tape to tape off the edge of the board so it does not get painted.
- Spray paint your board with black spray paint. Three light coats with dry time in between should do it.
- After the paint is completely dry, start applying Clear Wood Finish (spray on from Minwax or Valspar) according to package instructions.
- Check out pictures of a chess board and the chess pieces on line to get an idea of size and general shape of pieces if you are unfamiliar. Be creative and find pieces that work in shape and scale for your set. You have the whole store – just make sure your chess pieces are made of a surface that will accept paint.
- Spray paint one or both sets of pieces. Let dry.
- You are good to go. Enjoy your new chess set!
- Pieces – $30
- Paint – $5
- Spray Finish – $8
- Board – Free. (Stolen from my dad but it should be less than $10 for the plywood.)
Thank you Steve for sharing your tutorial with us! It is without a doubt A to Z-worthy!
That is BRILLIANT!!!! Not only will I be featuring it but I think this summer I am going to have the boy make one!! FUN!
nest of posies says
wow! such a cool chess set & such an imagination! my dad used to play chess all the time & collect different sets. he would love this. he even used to play blindfold chess. hard core.
Dan Mathewson says
Beth-ster — I would swear that that’s my corn cob pipe in that pic. If you got it via Steve-O, my guess would be that he swiped it from me when we broke for the summer.
Great blog. Totally you.
Hahahaha. I love the story. Also attended a small Baptist College. Also had a best friend who was a guy. He WAS a groomsman at my wedding! And yes, everyone raised their eyebrow. Even my hubby. How could we be friends and never have kissed? Well, Ryan is getting married this summer so he is more embraced by hubby these days. A lot of “hidden” jealousy the past 10 years! *sigh* 🙂
Kudos to you! Kudos to him for a very clever “man game”.
Your project is definately A-Z worthy! Your ideas on the chess board got my head spinning on new ideas to do one for women too! Your photography is gorgeous! I checked that out too! – Karen
Wow! I dont know that Ive ever received such an introduction! Your the best Beth……totally honored to be a guest poster. And yes, that’s a pipe, a corncob pipe…certainly an early indicator of Beth’s refined style, could not have predicted AtoZ though. Awesome blog – thx again.
This chess board is so impressive! The pieces are my favorite! Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂
This is great. I adore this. It makes me wish, I was a better chess player.
Thanks letting Steve share this.
Sorry there is an n missing after Steve…
I hadn’t noticed…
Greetings from Germany
Beth @A to Z says
Oh no problem! I call him Steve but I think professionally he goes by Steven.
Great post and the photography rocks! Nice pic on the boat , is that a pipe? 🙂
Jo @ To a Pretty Life says
Now that is cool! My dad would have loved that. It’s hard for me to come up with handmade gifts that aren’t girly.
Def A to Z worthy! Great post, thanks for sharing!