When my older son was a Webelos, our den made a chess set from nuts and bolts as part of an old requirement. It is still a fun activity for the boys!
I wanted a chess board to go with the pieces. Finding an inexpensive way to make the boards was important. I turned to Pinterest and other online sources and wandered around Lowe’s, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t wood.
Picture frames came to mind, but we had three challenges. First, the frames would need to be square. Second, they would need to be small because our pieces are small. Third, they couldn’t cost very much. While shopping at Michael’s, I found these 8″ x 8″ picture frames!
These frames are very simple: thin black plastic. They met all of our criteria for what we needed. They were perfect! When I got mine, they were $4.99 each. You can order them from the Michael’s website.
While I haven’t seen them in person, the frames look like they will work perfectly. The nice thing is that if you order them and they aren’t what you want, you can return them to a Target store.
The first step in etching the frame is to tape off the frame in squares. I used 3/4″ wide stencil tape to make a checkerboard pattern. Use a craft knife to cut out the squares where there are two layers of tape.
The easiest way for me was to use a ruler and cut all the way across the tape (even the pieces that I was not going to remove) then pull up the double layered squares.
After you have removed all the pieces, press around the edges of the tape that is left to ensure that it has adhered to the glass well. Use a paper towel to wipe the exposed glass to remove any fingerprints.
For the next step, the boys moved to the garage where I had set up a table. We explained how the etching cream would work and that we needed to be very careful using it. It’s relatively safe, but it is an acid.
We put the taped off glass on a paper towel. Don’t forget to have the boys write their names on one of the blue squares.
The boys then applied the etching cream to the glass with a paint brush. Use a fairly thick coat of cream. In this picture, the Webelos probably should have used a bit more.
The etching cream takes several minutes to process. Be sure you have an activity for them to do during the wait time. After it finishes processing, rinse the cream off. It’s probably better for an adult to do this.
After the glass was rinsed, they took all the tape off. They were so surprised to see what the glass looked like. I told them they could pick out any color paper they wanted (from my scrapbook stash) to put behind the glass, but most of them just wanted to use the black backing that came with the frame. We put the etched part of the glass facing inward on the frame so the side facing out was smooth.
Here are two of our final chess boards!
Which is your favorite–red or black? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Yours in Scouting,
P.S. If you liked any of these suggestions, sign up below for more fun Cub Scout ideas!