Crafting DIY Wooden Chessmen with Embedded Sensors

Crafting DIY Wooden Chessmen with Embedded Sensors


Building Customized Wooden Chess Pieces with Sensors for Your Chessnut Air Electronic Chessboard


Chess is a game of intellect, strategy, and art. As chess enthusiasts, we always seek to enhance our playing experience. The Chessnut Air, with its innovative sensor technology, takes chess to a whole new level, allowing us to enjoy the game like never before. In this article, I’ll guide you through building customized wooden chess pieces with sensors for the Chessnut Air, elevating your chess experience to new heights.

1. Choosing High-Quality Wooden Chess Pieces:

To get started, you’ll need high-quality wooden chess pieces. I recently ordered mine from INDIACHESSART and opted for their Wood Combination Boxwood/Golden Rosewood set Russian Zagreb chess pieces. These pieces offer a touch of elegance and durability, making them perfect for the Chessnut Air. The dimensions of the chess pieces are as follows:

  • King: 2.6” (66.5mm) height, 1.1” (29mm) base
  • Queen: 2.3” (57mm) height, 1.1” (29mm) base
  • Bishop: 2.1” (54mm) height, 1.0” (26mm) base
  • Knight: 1.8” (46mm) height, 1.0” (26mm) base
  • Rook: 1.5” (38mm) height, 1.0” (26mm) base
  • Pawn: 1.4” (34mm) height, 0.9” (22mm) base

Upon delivery, I was first impressed with their craftsmanship. Still, some real imperfections in the Rook and Knight prompted me to seek a replacement which, unfortunately, was worst than the original pieces. However, I’m very happy with wooden pieces because they give you a different view, feel, and touch than the cheap and over time decolorizing plastic pieces.

Some unboxing pictures

  • Compared to the original pieces (where the plastic started to decolorize) Some unboxing pictures:
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  • The base is slightly bigger:
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  • Close-up of the Knight with some imperfections on the side:
  • White lined up:
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  • Black lined up:

2. Understanding the Chess Piece Sensor Chips:

The chess piece sensor chips set is specifically designed for DIYers who want to create customized chess pieces with sensors. These sensor chips are essential components that bring the Chessnut Air to life, enabling the electronic chessboard to register and recognize the movement of each piece during gameplay. The set includes 34 sensor chips, with two extra queens included for versatility in customizing your chess pieces. Additionally, 34 silicone cases are provided to protect the chips during installation.


3. Preparing the Chessmen and Sensor Chips:

Before adding the sensors, ensure the chessmen are free from dirt or debris. Use a soft cloth to clean them gently. The delivered chessmen come with drill holes to accommodate the sensor chips, providing ample space for their placement.

4. Getting the Sensors Ready:

Upon receiving the sensor chips, you’ll notice they require some trimming to fit precisely into the designated holes of the wooden chess pieces. To ensure a proper fit, test the sensors by turning them upside down and checking if the trimmable area is visible outside the hole. The trimming process can be done easily and carefully, guaranteeing the sensors a snug and secure fit.


6. Ensuring Proper Sensor Placement:

Correct placement of the sensor chips within the chess pieces is essential for the Chessnut Air to detect movements during gameplay accurately. After installation, test the depth of the sensor by placing the piece back on the chessboard. If you hear a “metallic click,” it indicates that the sensor is not deep enough inside. You can adjust the Blu-Tack accordingly to achieve the desired depth.

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7. Dealing with Felt Issues:

INDIACHESSART promised to deliver self-adhesive felts, but this wasn’t the case and a false promise. The felts provided were of subpar quality, necessitating trimming to fit. Instead, I ordered self-adhesive circle felts in various sizes. However, I learned that the 0.5” ones were too small for pawns, so make sure to choose the appropriate size for each piece. Here is a picture with “preconfigured” adhesive felts. Those are 3/4”. Are they ideal? Probably not, but less hassle cutting them on my own without having an arch punch tool. I wish I could find something thinner, but good to go for now. The sensors are protected, slides good, sensor signal is good.

8. Dealing with Quality Issues:

As said, the pieces from this seller have some things that need fixing, and the shop is unwilling to fix them or deliver a better quality replacement. To give you an idea what you probably are dealing with, here are some pictures.


The top line shows the original pieces from the vendor and the second line the replacement.



Building your customized wooden chess pieces with sensors for the Chessnut Air can be rewarding and enjoyable, elevating your chess-playing experience to the next level. Although I faced some challenges with the quality of chessmen and felts from INDIACHESSART, the result was worth the effort. I recommend exploring other options and manufacturers for wooden chess pieces and felts to ensure a seamless and satisfactory chess experience. Based on my experience with this one Etsy store, I contacted others willing to drill the holes for your sensors. Remember, the joy of customizing your chess pieces will add a personal touch to every move you make on the board.

As of August 2, 2023, I advise against ordering from INDIACHESSART due to the quality issues I encountered with their Rooks, Knights and the need for more satisfactory replacements. For the best results, seek other reputable sellers and stores that can provide high-quality wooden chess pieces, making your journey with the Chessnut Air board remarkable. The comments in the Chessnut Facebook group highlight ongoing issues with INDIACHESSART, including unresolved orders and false promises. Despite this, some users report an increase in orders, potentially influenced by moderating activities within the group. It is crucial to support ethical vendors and remain vigilant against those engaging in unfair practices.


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