Do you like “The Queen’s Gambit”? Make a DIY chess game.


Thanks to the success of the Netflix show “The Queen’s Gambit”, chess games are flying off the shelves. If you can’t find one, or just want another pandemic craft project, why not make your own at home?

You don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. And unlike a chess set you would buy, if you lose a piece or damage the board, you can just build a new piece.

As you weigh your options, Joann Jamieson-Larkin, a designer for Craftsman’s Companion, an arts and crafts store, recommends asking yourself how durable your chess set should be. Is this meant to be a keepsake for life or just something fun to do in the afternoon? Knowing the answer ahead of time will guide your next steps, she said.

Paper can be a surprisingly strong medium. “I have projects that I created from paper and still have four to five years after they were created,” Ms. Jamieson-Larkin said. In fact, she designed his own 3D chess set using card stock.

We don’t all have access to card stock right now, but don’t worry. Here are your options.


This is the easiest and fastest option. Sites like and offer free chess models. All you need is a working printer, some paper, and a pair of scissors, and you can be playing chess in minutes.

However, the quality of these sets leaves a lot to be desired. Chess pieces are fragile and difficult to move on the (terribly small) chessboard. Strong wind, rowdy pet, or cranky child could do damage in no time. Most adults would find these chess sets to be lacking, especially if you’ve played more sturdy games before and are used to being able to pick up a piece and knock an opponent off the board.

A free 3D printable paper chess model of designed by Gary French is the best option for most people. The board is a bit larger, as it weaves two sheets of paper together, and the pieces are easy to put together. Feel free to personalize the pieces with colors or paint. But honestly, this chessboard is pretty perfect as it is.

You will need:

  • A printer

  • 4 sheets of paper

  • Scissors

    Step 1. Download the zip file.

    Step 2. Print out the chess set.

    Step 3. Cut out the shaded tabs on each sheet of the chessboard. Lock the two pieces of the chessboard so that they fit together perfectly.

    Step 4. Next, cut out the individual chess pieces.

    Step 5. Cut the notches at the top and bottom of each chess piece.

    Step 6. Carefully fold each chess piece at the two gray lines to build a flat base. Intertwine the notches at the top. Arrange the pieces on the chessboard.

    Step 7. Play chess!


If you are looking for something more solid and have a little more time to invest in the project, there are free models for a cardboard chess set available at A set designed by one user, MakerKeith, requires a bit more elbow grease when you cut shapes out of cardboard and secure them to a base using toothpicks.

If you plan to use a model for 3D parts like Ms. Jamieson-Larkin’s established, she recommended using quick-drying tacky glue for the adhesive. “Put your glue around the edges,” she said. “A little goes a long way. If you use too much glue, moisture will tend to warp the paper.

Take your time to make sure the edges match and are properly aligned. “There’s no point in doing something and it ends up being messy,” she said. “It won’t be appreciated by anyone. “

You will need:

  • An 18 x 18 inch piece of cardboard for the board

  • Additional pieces of cardboard for the bases of the chess pieces

  • 32 toothpicks

  • A printer

  • Nine sheets of paper

  • A sharp knife

  • Scissors

  • Double-sided tape or glue


For those who are comfortable with the practice of origami, you can assemble a chess set using origami techniques. Joseph wu provided free of charge instructions to create chess pieces on the theme of birds. Tutorial YouTube videos created by other origami enthusiasts can walk you through the process of creating each piece.

Origami chess: cats versus dogs”By Roman Diaz explains how to build an origami chess set with the theme of cats and dogs. Instructional Videos posted on YouTube guides you through every step as well.

These sets are durable and, frankly, adorable. However, the process of building each part takes a lot of work. You should also make sure that you have the correct type of paper to use.

You can buy origami paper from online craft stores like the origami paper shop and Michaels. Amazon also offers a solid selection of origami paper. Just be aware that origami sets don’t have instructions for building a chess board, but this YouTube video by a named user An average origamist shows you how to build one if you’re feeling ambitious.

You will need:

  • 32 sheets of 6 by 6 inch origami paper (16 sheets in one color or pattern and 16 sheets in another color or pattern).

  • 4 sheets of 18.5 x 18.5 inch double-sided origami paper for the chessboard.


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