2nd Project: Lake Mendota Map Award


I worked at the University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station for 25 years during the summers. I loved being out on the lake, and doing the rescue service was an epic job. One of my co-workers recently retired after 44 years, so I wanted to make him something for his retirement. I had previously did the illustrator work to map out the different lake levels in hopes of having a different buddy use his CNC machine to make me a coffee table. Now that the Glowforge is in play, I thought it would be nice to use this file to create something unique. I have to get some more proofgrade before finishing, as I skipped a few levels, but you get the gist of what I’m trying to do in the picture below. My friend that I’ve worked with for 25 years, have windsurfed, water ski’d, wakeboarded, kite boarded, snow kiting, ice windsurfing, fly boarding, swimming, etc in addition to the rescue station, so Lake Mendota is a pretty special place for us. I think he’ll like it. :smile:

This is the most time I’ve ever spent on a vector file. Literally hundreds of hours was put into this map. Getting it scaled down to use for the glow forge was a challenging process. In addition, to get it to print the top layer on cherry took 2 hours and 20 minutes. So being that this is my second project on the glow forge, I’m very excited how easy the glowforge is to use, and I’m pretty happy with the results. I plan on painting the lake sections as well, so you won’t see any of the score marks for missing depths. Thanks to all of the forum posts that prepared me for being able to do a complex cut, score, and engrave.

Here are my questions:

  1. The top layer is cherry. next 2 layers are maple ply. Bottom layers are draftboard. What do you suggest I use to glue these together?

  2. I took the suggestion and removed the masking tape off the top layer of cherry before printing to get the best results for the map engraving. However, on the score layer, there is some excess burn marks. Any suggestions on cleaning this off? Just water? Cleaner like 409 or windex?

  3. I used 1/8" material for all of the layers. I think I want to make one of these for myself, minus the award stuff. The original file is like 20 layers, as the lake goes down to over 80 feet deep. Any suggestions on materials thinner than 1/8" for use on the middle sections? Do they make 1/16" plywood or draftboard?




Wow! Fantastic project. Where did you get your map information? I love the top layer. He will be very impressed for sure!:grinning::+1::glowforge:


best thing for cleaning off some char is a little denatured alcohol and a toothbrush or rag.


Gorgeous! He’ll love it! :grinning:


That’s your second project…now I feel like a slacker :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Excellent work!


Honestly, I found this map using Google, and I personally traced each lake depth in Illustrator by hand.


you are a patient man. :slight_smile:


Started with a Mr. Clean magic eraser, and this cleaned up nicely. Shows how it will look maybe with a bit of poly on it. Didn’t even use the alcohol!


What a memorable gift! It’s a priceless memento for your friend. I hope the coffee table looks this nice (it will!)


I’ve seen a lot of nice topo/batho maps here and elsewhere but this just may be the nicest yet.


what a beautiful piece of work and I’m sure the recipient will be overwhelmed! :slight_smile:




Wow! Beautifully done.


Extraordinary! I’m struggling with maps right now, great job!


Great job.

I’d start by using yellow wood glue to adhere all those layers together. The “problem” with proofgrade ply is that it comes pre-finished, so it should really be sanded off to make a good bonding surface. If you do it again you may want to consider sanding off the bottom side of the top layer and then lasering it. After that just use draft board or something else that is unfinished. For 1/16" material, have you looked at any of the art supply stores around campus? They may have some sort of backing board or the like.


I wish I could like this a thousand times. Isthmus for life. =)


Love it! He will treasure it!


Herculean effort for sure! As I age … my ability to focus on a single project diminishes --> jealous of your patience and amazed that this is only your SECOND project. :sunglasses:


The combination of the lake depth, the street map, and the personalized note - wow!


Nice to see Wisconsin makers at work. Really nice job.