Friday, December 31, 2010

Collapsible Chessboard

 It's a bag.  You can put your chess pieces in it.
 Why would you want to put chess pieces in a bag like this?
Because it's really a chessboard.

We invented this because my oldest daughters thought her buddies at school needed a new chess board.  The one they were using is currently being held together with a bungee cord.    She thought they needed a board that would fit easily in a backpack and be portable for a bunch of teenage boys. 
It doesn't quite collapse quite as much as I had hoped, but it's still fun.   It opens back up again quite well and it's great for playing on potentially uneven surfaces.  Each square may not line up perfectly, but they will be more stable than a plain fabric board.   And it's cooler than a plain fabric board.  

To make your own you need 64 little blocks all exactly the same size.  We used half inch plywood cut 1.5"x1.5".   We found that thinner wood did collapse together better.  My husband set up a jig on his miter saw to make it go a little faster when cutting the blocks.   Next you need to stain half of them dark and half of them light.    Fit them together, and depending on how well you cut the blocks this may take some time to get them lined up well.   Then you get to flip it over (unless you are a much more graceful person than I, you may want to flip these over one piece at a time in order to avoid sending chessboard squares flying around your living room.  We did find the one that went under the couch eventually.)  Let it sit while you prepare the bag.

Cut a 24" circle out of heavyweight fabric, of course, if you do smaller blocks you may want a smaller bag.  Bigger blocks will need a bigger bag.   Find the exact center and make a grid identical to your blocks on the backside centered over the center of the board.   You might want to use a quilting marker that fades over time.   I also used my quilting ruler to draw the lines.  It made it very easy to draw perfectly parallel lines 1.5" away from each other.    Make a drawstring pocket around the edge.   I put in button holes to draw the cord through.

Now go back to your blocks.  They should all be upside down and pushed together tightly.   Put a drop of E6000 glue on the back of each and every block.    Gently set your fabric down over the blocks, lining up the grid with the edge of each block.   Make sure that's as perfect as you can make it, because it's your guide for the next step.   Now you need to put one 1/2" screw through the center of each and every grid square.  If you lined that up correctly you will have the screw in the center of each block. 

That's it.  A bit time consuming and fiddly when cutting and staining the blocks, but overall a pretty easy project.  It's also something that no one else will have, which should totally give you an extra pawn that acts like queen just because your board is cooler than theirs.


  1. You need to get a patent or copyright or something on this idea right away Amy. Seriously. I know chessboards aren't that big of a money maker, but you don't want someone else making money selling these on-line somewhere.

  2. Wow. That is amazing.

    (My first thought was that they could use a board painted on fabric, but I suppose that's not as cool!)

  3. This is very cool. But you completely lost me with the 1/2" screw. Why are you doing that?

  4. The screw is just a second way to hold the blocks to the fabric. The glue is strong, but this will be knocked around quite a bit and you want the blocks to be firmly attached. I just don't trust the glue to hold all by itself, especially when this particular board is destined for a high school boy's backpack.

    You can skip the screws if you trust your glue. ;)

  5. This is such a neat idea!! I 'pinned' you on my Pinterest boards.