I thought I’d like to document my experience making a Catan board for my niece’s graduation present. I’m using a regular GlowForge (not the pro version).
Started from the Thingiverse set: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2502400 by Carlotta.
Went to Etsy and got the seafarers expansion, ocean border tiles, base set accessories, and horse version of the pasture tile (I can’t stand the various sheep-based versions I’ve seen, and my niece likes horses) from EttuArtem.
Looks like Carlotta had access to a substantially larger laser cutter than a Glowforge, so I had to ask her to post svg files for individual tiles and then combine them appropriately using Inkscape. I found that for the main tiles, the Glowforge app could only handle two tiles at a time, and then only if I was careful to reduce the engraving resolution a bit. For the non-resource tiles like the desert and ocean spaces, I could do substantially more. Admittedly one could get around this by importing additional svg files as graphics so that it operated in stages, but that would require more work in terms of entering in the appropriate settings. The Glowforge software folks really need to put in something that allows you to save your own settings.
I read in another post that one person regretted completely cutting out the circles for the numbers, so I decided to just do a heavy engrave and have the number tiles stick out. To make the number tiles slot in easily, I had to scale them in X and Y by about 95%. Because the Glowforge app doesn’t allow you to do a numerical scaling, I had to do this in Inkscape. Another item for the software wishlist.
I opted for quarter-inch thick tiles. Would have been cheaper to do 1/8", and the whole set would have been substantially lighter, but I think it would seem flimsier. Not sure if this was the right call.
I opted for the smooth edges instead of the interlocking pieces. Since I’m planning on doing a complete 5-6 player Seafarers set, I opted for the smooth generic border tiles as well.
Ore: Hard maple, with the stain recommended by Carlotta - two coats
Gold: Hard maple, stained with MinWax “Golden Pecan 245” - two coats
Desert: Hard maple, no stain
Ocean and borders: Alder with MinWax “Island Water (41)” - two coats
Wood was bought from Inventables (had a gift card), Ocooch Hardwoods, and D &D Hardwoods. I bought one walnut project board from Home Depot, but it was pretty expensive. Overall the wood was much more expensive than I had been anticipating, and shipping costs were pretty high. I recommend really figuring out just what you need ahead of time and doing one big order. 4" wide boards were good enough for the center tiles. 6" wide boards can comfortably do a pair of border tiles side by side. Boards generally came in 24" length, which is longer than the basic Glowforge can accommodate, so I had to cut them in half first. I could fit three tiles in each 12" long section, so six per 4x24" board. If you are clever about how you cut the board, you might be able to get seven in. For the border tiles plan carefully, as 12" is just barely enough to get two of the long border tiles in, as shown in the picture below.
I bought a big roll of tape from Miller Supply, 1 x 12" x 300 yd Glass Paper Mask Tape (T-41), thinking this would last me for the long term. May have been excessive, but my Glowforge is ultimately destined to be a donation to a local middle school, so I figure it will get used up eventually. I’ve gone back and forth on the use of the tape: using it reduces the need for a lot of sanding, but the designs are detailed enough that it’s actually kind of a pain to remove all the various pieces of paper afterward. I think my final compromise is going to be to use the tape and then do a light sanding to get off all the tiny little paper pieces at once.
Yellowheart: Light (750/60/340) Dark (500/70/340), Cut: didn’t record
Alder: proof-grade poplar, Cut (150/full/2passes)
Aspen: Light (250/6) Dark (250/12) Cut 140/full Deep (500/70)
Hard Maple: Light (300/8), Dark (300/16) Deep (250/40)
Walnut: Light (250/6), Dark (250/12), Cut (PG 2 passes)
I’m kind of committed to these settings at this point for consistency, but if I had to do it over I’d do some more experimenting to get similar results with faster speeds. With the Hard Maple and Walnut slow speeds, doing 2 tiles can take like 3 hours! I had to reduce the engrave resolution to 270 for the center and light engrave sections in order to get the app to process fully two tiles without running out of memory. That was a little disappointing. I expected more from the software.
For the deep center etch I had made a quick test cut that did three circles at varying power levels to get the depth I wanted.
For sanding the tiles I printed this: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2611160
The stain recommends pre-sanding with 220 grid sandpaper, but I ended up using 150 as it took too long to get the burn marks out with 220.
I used Carlotta’s recommended Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac spray, three coats.
For the pieces I’m staining, I haven’t totally figured out what I’m going to do with the backs. The overall design calls for felt backing, so I don’t think I need to stain the backs, but maybe I should at least shellac to seal? I’m leaving the edges of the pieces unsanded, as I kind of like the burnt look.
Here’s my progress so far:
I’ll continue to post on this thread as I make more progress. I’ve got a strict deadline of June 8 to complete, so I’ll be working hard over the next few weeks on this.