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John Lawson wrote on 2008-10-15 UTC
I agree with dhr. Muller in my preference for wooden pieces.  Nice ones are not very economical, and custom designs would be quite expensive.
I did a 'back-of-the-envelope' calculation and came up with a price of about 2-4 USD per piece if executed by an experienced production hand turner, cheaper if the design and quantity allowed the use of an automatic duplicator.  I checked this against prices in internet stores for hand-turned lace bobbins, which are similar to chess pieces in size and complexity, and undecorated ones are about 3-4 USD.
There are other less traditional ways of making wooden chesspieces, notably ring-turning and scroll-sawed sillhouettes, which might be cheaper.
For those who might want to butcher manufactured sets, the cheapest chess piece retailer I have found online is

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