How to make 3D Miniature Chess Pieces made with a Laser Cutter

How to make 3D Miniature Chess Pieces made with a Laser Cutter


Steve Crayons here and I want to show you
how to make these miniature chess pieces with a laser cutter. They’re about 3 to 5 centimeters
tall and if you’ve got a laser cutter handy, they’re actually pretty easy to make.
Start with an acrylic bar  ⅜ inch thick (or a about 9 mm).
Next draw the profile of the piece in a vector based program. Now, You can have the profile
make a complete circuit by cutting at the bottom. But I did not bother with that because
of the next step. Which is to cut out a rectangle that surrounds
the piece. The key is that the rectangle is as wide as the acrylic bar is thick.
Now remove everything within that rectangle … and look at that. Pretty cool we can start
to see the form. The piece is surrounded by excess acrylic that I call “padding”.
Lay the piece on it’s side And remove the padding from the top. We’ll
keep the bottom padding because it will help support the piece in the following steps.
Now return the piece to the rectangle that we just cut out.
So we’ve effectively rotated the piece 90 degrees. The left and the right sides of the
piece used to be the front and the back sides. Using that same profile we drew, cut it again
on the rotated piece. Pull the piece out again, remove the excess
padding. And you’ve got a miniature pawn!
You can make all 6 pieces the same way. The pawn, rook and queen have the same profiles
for both front and side. But the bishop, king and knight each have
different front and side profiles. Real quick we’ll go through the process
of making each piece. Starting with pawn again, what you’re looking
at here is 5 views of the same piece, rotated from 0 to 45 to 90 degrees.
Here’s the second cut. The view at 0 and 90° are the same because the front and side
profiles are the same. Making the bishop is very similar – it’s
just a bit taller.  The side profile has the iconic cut for his hat.
Here’s the first cut of the queen and here’s after the second.
The king looks pretty similar. The cross on his head is cut differently between the front
and the side. So, the rook is pretty straight forward.
And lastly the Knight. The Knight is definitley the most challenging to manufacture, but it’s
also the most distinctive. The king and the queen were my favorite pieces
to design. I tried to make the queen feminine with curves and a voluptuous bosom. While
the king is more masculine and rigid with his straight edges. But my favorite feature
is the subtle difference in their hats. The bottom of the king’s hat goes straight down,
while the queen’s hat flares out. To me I think of it as earrings on the queen.  
He’re a cool thing you can do. You can use the laser cutter’s etching feature to give
the pices a “frosted” look. For example you can etch windows on the rook to make it
look more like a castle, or you can etch eyes, nostrils, ears and mane on to the knight.
If you like to review this video in non-video form, check out the links to an Instructable
and an Imgur album in the description. I first made these chess pieces and took all
the photos about 4 years ago when I was in grad school. And I just now, got around to
making this video. Believe it or not, I have a tiny problem with procrastination. But here’s
the real problem though. I have another project from around the same time. I made this object
that I call a “Turner’s Tetrahedron” . It’s based on something called a turner’s
cube. Google it and you’ll get tons of results. While the the tetrahedron might not look as
cool as the cube, it was much harder to make. And that was the challenge, that’s what
drove me to make. The actual machining on a CNC mill was simple, it’s just face cuts
and pockets. But the workholding — that is, fixturing the part in place was the real challenge.
Anyway, I made the parts, took hundreds of photos, a bunch of videos and I have been
about 95% of the way to finishing this project for the past three years And I am still not
done. But I would love to finally finish it and move on. So if you like to see me finish
this let me know and… if I get a few  comments like “Hey steve, you should do that, it’ll
totally be worth your time that ” It might just give me the motivation I need to actually
finish it. Lastly, shameless plug here, I recently started
a new job where I make YouTube videos about a new 3D printer. Click the link to check
out, and if you like 3D printing and you like the channel, please subscribe.
And actually lastly , you have sat through this video through it’s entirety, congratulations
and thank you for your attention. As a r’ward, here is a photo of a very silly cat, named
Hubert.

18 thoughts on “How to make 3D Miniature Chess Pieces made with a Laser Cutter

  1. hey Steve, good to see another video from you! I thought the chess pieces were cool, and the turners tetrahedron would be awesome to hear about. are you still helping Bill out with his vids?

  2. Hey, I've been watching some of your videos and I really like your style and energy. Although I don't know exactly what to expect yet, I look forward to seeing more from your channel! Good job and keep them coming!

  3. You should really be posting more of this kind and the taking apart kind of vids. Looking forward, mate.

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