Wall Chess

Be the hit of your office or coffee shop! 
Here are some instructions to help 
you create your own oversized wall chess board.

The pictures you see show an oversized wall chess board (4 feet by 4 feet) with pieces held on by velcro. I considered using magnets originally, but found this was the cheaper and easier way to go. I also think the result turned out very good, both aesthetically and functionally. As far as I know, this board is still currently a one-of-a-kind item, and when I prototyped it about 5 years ago, with a few wrong paths and dead ends, it cost $650 to make. It can be done for much cheaper and I will tell you how!

This is an easy project, and everyone who sees it will love it. Mine has been great fun at my work and still looks nice.

You can currently find the pieces for about a quarter of what I paid here.  I wish I had known about MegaChess at the time! They had cost me about $300 instead of $79. 

I used rolls of 2 inch sticky back velcro to make the board and bought from an online source called Feiner Supply. If you do a google search for "bulk velcro", you should find plenty of other options as well if you'd like to shop around. I recently checked and Feiner's prices seem higher than I remember paying. 

Each square is 6"x6", so I used 3 strips of 2"x6" for each square. This means you will need 32*3*6/12 = 48 feet of each color to cover the board. Feiner sells 25 yard rolls, which is more than enough, so this is what I bought. I used the velcro "loops" for the board and the "hooks" for the pieces, which worked well. The hooks tend to get random stuff stuck in them, so the board will stay nicer looking if you go this route.  The backing on the pieces required much less surface area, so I had a lot of the hook tape left over - 25 yards was overkill. To cut the velcro for the board, I used a relatively small paper cutter borrowed from work.  This was an order of magnitude easier and more precise than scissors (I tried that first).  For cutting the circles to put on the pieces, I cut two half circles marked with a compass, and had to use scissors. 

The velcro may end up being your largest expense. Last time I checked, four 25 yard rolls were about $200, again more than I remember from a few years ago. Non-sticky back is much cheaper and available in larger sizes. In retrospect, it probably would have been easier to just cut 6"x6" squares from standard velcro sheets and glue them on. I bet you could save a lot going this route since sticky back velcro is expensive, and it would probably be less work too.

For the board backing, I used a 4 foot by 8 foot "tileboard" from Home Depot that I had them cut in half for me. That tileboard was about $10. When putting the squares on the board, I first marked the board and worked from the center outwards to minimize the inevitable drifting that would happen. I ended up having to slice a small 1/8" off the long side of one of the three 2"x6" sections for each board square because lining them up was producing squares about 6" by 6 1/8". Doing all the cutting and velcro placing took about 10 hours total, but I was probably being a little too perfectionistic with it. To hang the board, I just used some of the left over velcro on the back and on the wall.  It doesn't take much.

Finally, for a nice accessory, I velcroed a hockey puck half black and half white to have a move puck to keep track of who's turn it is.  I bought a tub to hold captured pieces, but it would have also been nice to put a "graveyard" section of velcro on the wall.

In short, total cost will probably run you about $350.

Good luck!  Please send question or comments to roice "at" gravitation3d "dot" com.