Fig. A: The chessmen after casting. Fig. B: Paint the
chessmen. It seems more authentic not to varnish them.
Fig. C: The completed set, behind a section of game
board tiles. Fig. D: Two chessmen will contain magnets,
which are used to open the secret drawer.
MAKE THE CHESSMEN
1. Cast the chessmen and tiles.
Wash the latex molds in soapy water, and let any
excess water drain out.
Mix the plaster with water and pour into the
molds. The correct powder to water ratio for Herculite is about 2: 1, but a good general rule is to aim for
the consistency of thick pancake batter. Support the
latex molds with jars or tins, so that the pieces don’t
Photography by Andrew Lewis
10lbs or 5kg of high-strength molding plaster such
as Hydro-Stone or Denscal (Herculite Stone or
Crystacast in the U.K.)
Latex chess set molds including chessmen and
2" square molds for the tiles
Acrylic clear coat (optional)
Rare earth bar magnets ( 4) small enough to fit
inside the base of the chess pieces
PVA adhesive such as carpenter’s glue or
ordinary white glue
¼" medium-density fiberboard (MDF) pieces:
16" squares ( 2) for the chessboard top and base
8"× 12" for the drawer base
1× 2× 16" ( 2) for the chessboard sides. Remember
that 1× 2 dimensional lumber actually measures
1× 2× 12½" for the chessboard back
1× 2× 31" ( 2) for the chessboard front
2× 2× 14½" ( 2) for the drawer guides
1"×½"× 8" ( 2) for the drawer’s front and back
1"×½"× 12" ( 2) for the drawer’s sides
¼"×½" strip, 11½" lengths ( 2) for drawer runners
2½"×¼" trim boards I used reclaimed oak.
2. Remove the pieces from the molds.
Once the plaster is firm and dry (in an hour or so),
you can remove the pieces from the molds (Figure A).
You’ll need to produce a complete set of chessmen
from the molds, and also 64 tiles. Making the tiles
might take a while, but it’s worth the effort.
3. Paint the chessmen and tiles.
Once you’ve molded all the pieces, you can paint
them with acrylic paint. The color scheme is up to
you, but a more traditional look will probably attract
less attention. Chess pieces tend to look best when