ITP Notebook

Laser Cut Chess Set

April 13, 2021

Intro to Fabrication

The board from black's perspective

For this week’s laser cutter assignment I created a chess set. I found some inspiration online for a board with slots into which the pieces fit.

Preparations

I designed the board and pieces in Illustrator, using the grid to make sure that they were proportional to each other.

Screenshot of the Illustrator file showing the board and chess pieces Screenshot of the Illustrator file showing the board and chess pieces

The pieces went through several iterations. In this screenshot you can see the semi final (top right, without rounded edges) and final (middle right) versions. I went for the classic silhouettes but tried to keep the design minimal.

The final piece designs The final piece designs

I designed the pieces on the grid with a one inch wide base plus 1/8 inch padding on each side. The knight is the only piece that extends into the padding. I then scaled them down for the final version so that the total width including padding was one inch — the same width as the board squares. The nubs and slots were 1/4 inch by 1/2 inch since I would be using 1/4 inch acrylic.

Testing and Fine-Tuning

I tested the design with cardboard first and found that the slots were too big to snugly hold the pieces.

Testing with cardboard Testing with cardboard

After a few tests I reduced the size to 0.48x0.23 inches and tested with acrylic.

Testing with acrylic Testing with acrylic

After a few acrylic tests I was confident that the smaller size worked and was ready to cut the rest.

Cutting

I started with the pieces with both black and white acrylic.

Cutting the pieces Cutting the pieces

I then cut and engraved the base — every other square was engraved. The base took about 15 minutes.

Cutting and engraving the base Cutting and engraving the base

Unfortunately I kept the paper on for this step which led to a partial engraving — the paper was not completely removed from the engraved squares. Next time I will definitely remove the paper for an engraving like this.

Removing the paper from the engraved board Removing the paper from the engraved board

Result

The partial engraving created sort of an industrial/concrete effect which I don’t mind. I really like how the pieces came out and they fit well in the slots.

The board from white's perspective The board from white’s perspective

Side view of the board with pieces Side view of the board with pieces

The board from black's perspective The board from black’s perspective

Closeup of white pieces Closeup of white pieces

Closeup of white pieces Closeup of white pieces

One of each piece laying flat on the table, alternating colors One of each piece laying flat on the table, alternating colors