Tag Archives: chess

Electrical tape chessboard

Easiest, fastest DIY chessboard ever.

Requires: pre-existing surface, partial roll of electrical tape, scissors.  Straight edge and a pencil should you wish it to be mostly square.

Does not include chess pieces.

Takes about an hour.  That’s a lot of little pieces of tape.


H.W. has been agitating for a proper sized chessboard, since his little travel set, where the pieces fit inside the hinged box that forms the playing surface, is very, very small.  We have actually discussed during a game whether we should use tweezers to move the pieces , since it’s so easy to reach in for one and scatter a whole battalion.

So, electrical tape + kitchen table = voila.

First I lightly drew a few lines to grid it out, since I did want it to be square (a chessboard is 8 squares by 8).  I was using little strips  of tape 1 1/2″ long, as I picked a 12″ board grid (a nice size).  At first H.W. made a little template and supplied me with endless little strips, but these pictures show me cutting directly off the roll because the supply of strips dried up when he started to take pictures.


I placed the “bottom” strip for each black square, following my lines, and then came back and placed the “top” strip, and then made a third pass to cover the little strip between the first two strips.




It looks really good.  Better than I expected.  The texture of the wood shows through the tape, wiping it off hasn’t been a problem, and if the bits of tape start to peel off, or if it needs some renewal, well, I know how to fix that.  If we get sick of it, or the Queen comes to dinner, we can just peel it off.


The set of pieces I made in my teens for an art class assignment, miraculously surviving decades intact.  I adore them for their slightly off-kilter imperfections, yet how clearly I managed to get it right-every piece is simple yet distinctly itself and the right relative height, and a nice playing size.

Also I remember how I thought at the time that creating 32 chessmen in 6 different iterations was an afterthought to the (terribly creative, artistic-and now useless) chessboard sculpture itself, and probably left that aspect to the night before it was due.  I was gluing and staining and varnishing well into the night.

Now they are getting trotted out frequently thanks to the new table chessboard, and we are glad to not be playing with this ersatz setup (“No, the checker with the domino on top is a rook.  The ones with the sticks are knights, like lances, see?”)