Things to do on a Rainy Saturday – Make a Chinese Chess Set

A while back (as discussed in this post) I became obsessed with finding a Chinese Chess set that would fit my needs. After failing to easily find one that I liked, I decided to spend a rainy (I’m not sure if it actually was, but I’m going with it) Saturday and make a very simple set on my own (using images from Wikipedia).

I used a few simple materials

  • ¾ inch wooden cubes that I had laying around
  • Scotch tape
  • Printed Icons from Wikipedia (with one set color inverted)
  • A Saw, scissors, and possibly an X-acto Knife
  • A cheap suction table clamp
  • Sandpaper

A few of those items won’t even be necessary for most people; this can be easily modified for the type of set one wants.


First I cut the pieces out (square pieces would be better, but the circle is more traditional) and taped them over the cubes, making sure the tape ran down the sides so it wouldn’t be easy to peel up. I did this on both sides of the cube. I placed the cubes in the clamp and sawed them in half roughly (I’m not very good with a saw, and I was impatient with this project). Then I took the pieces and rounded off the corners on some inexpensive sand paper, really just for aesthetic reasons. Afterwards I cut away any tape that was left up after the sanding.


None of this was very difficult and I’m sure you could figure out what I did by just looking at the photos, but in the end I got a quite usable, if not very pretty, Chinese Chess set that I could use with a player who didn’t know Chinese characters. I then drew a simple board on a sheet of paper that I glued to a small piece of cardboard and cut out. Then, to cover the edges (again for aesthetic reasons really) I used white Duck Tape (as in the brand, not a misspelling of the product). I actually made the board incorrectly and forgot to include the river (making it a Korean Chess board, actually) but this I was able to fix with minimal problems.


The set was great for introducing me and a few other people to the game while I waited to receive better sets. It now resides in Altoids tins in a magnetic “traditional” style set I got online so I can play with either characters or pictures.