This is a laser cut Settlers of Catan board game I made for my brother for Christmas! It's far more durable than the actual game board, the parts don't shift around during play, and it looks much nicer in my opinion.
In terms of the materials needed, this is a pretty simple instructable:
- 1/8th inch wood (approximately 3 pieces of 18''x24'' needed)
- Wood stain
- White, blue, orange, red paint
Step 1: Draw Your Design
Using your favorite vector editor, create your design! (Or use the attached ones. Note that the attached files include pieces for the Cities and Knights expansion).
For this step, I used CorelDraw which worked well for me. If I were to do it over, I would change how the roads were cut since I had some overlapping lines which took an unnecessarily long amount of time to cut. Other changes would be simplifying the design on the 3rd tier knight, as it is a little too complex for such a small token and ends up engraving pretty deeply into the wood.
As you can see, there are various tokens. I will explain the basic ones for the original game:
- The circular tokens with a circle in the middle are the settlements
- The hexagons are the cities.
- The rectangles are the roads
Step 2: Laser Cut Your Design Onto Wood
There are multiple steps to laser cutting the pieces, as there are multiple files, and most laser cutters don't have room to cut everything at once.
First cut out the base. This is simply the large hexagon with nothing else in it.
Next, your hex tiles should be cut out (along with the numbered tokens). Firstly, the machine should engrave before cutting so that everything is in the proper place (as pieces can move slightly during cutting).
Cutting out the hex tiles also makes a perfect piece of wood to hold these tiles with, so keep that wood as well.
Finally, cut out all your tokens/walls. The file I have included has enough tokens for two boards/extra pieces. I would recommend keeping at least some of those extras since pieces might break during construction of the rest of the board.
For my design, the red lines are cutting and the black lines are engraving.
Step 3: Glue the Base to the Outline and Stain
I was going for a nice contrast between the actual board and the hex tiles, so I stained the board. Next, use epoxy/glue, and glue your two large pieces together. This creates a nice base where your hex tiles can rest.
Next, polyurethane both your base and all the hex tiles, as they are finished! The poly will keep the stain from rubbing off on your fingers during play, as well as make it moisture-resistant. It'll also give it a nice finish.
Step 4: Place Tiles into Base
The hard part is done! Your ports, hex tiles, and resource numbers can all be placed in the board and swapped around to your heart's content.
Step 5: Build The Robber, Paint the Pieces
I made my robber by getting a clothespin for a dollar store and cutting it down so that it is just the round head, then I also stained and poly'd that as well. Looks quite a bit like the actual game robber!
There are a number of other pieces and tokens that I included in the files, such as small plaques for Longest Road and Largest Army that you might like to stain as well.
Now all your pieces need to be painted! For each player, they get:
- 4 Cities
- 5 Settlements
- 15 Roads
All in all, there are 96 pieces to be painted (not counting the Cities and Knights tokens!), so buckle up! Try to paint a light coat so as to keep the design underneath still visible. This is where those extra pieces come in handy, since sometimes a big glob of paint will make one token look way worse than the others.
Step 6: Play the Game!
Get some friends/family over and play the game/show off your awesome Catan board!
To organize the pieces, I bought a bunch of vinyl bags off eBay, as I thought it would add some classiness to it. If I had more time, I would have also built a box to carry the board in. I chose not to make the board foldable as I thought it would detract a bit from the feel of it, but it would definitely make it easier to carry it.
As a side note, I didn't think that the original cards really suited the aesthetic I was going for, so I quickly designed some minimalist ones and printed out all the cards needed to play the game. If you prefer the original cards, you can easily buy them off Amazon or get them from the full purchased board game, but I have included the files just in case.