I like maps. I like my home state of Oregon. So why not make a map of my state with my XCarve?
Obligatory final product:
First, get the counties. There are 36 in Oregon. Playing around with the map, I figured I could use six different woods so there were no adjoining woods. Handily, six colors go into 36 counties exactly six times.
I used the 6x12x1/2" hardwood blanks from Inventables, so the largest county needed to fit in that. This meant the entire finished piece would end up at about 2 feet wide by 1.5 feet tall. Pretty sure I used Padauk, Oak, Maple, Walnut, Purpleheart, and Bamboo.
In order to make sure they fit together nicely, I re-drew the map in Illustrator to ensure there were no inside corners less than 1/8" wide, the width of the bit I used. I also smoothed a bunch of the lines and corners to be more aesthetically pleasing while still providing the most accurate outlines. Then I split the counties all up into separate outline paths and juggled their placements on the 6x12 blanks.
The actual routing out took surprisingly little time, it was the smoothest part of the project, in fact. Drawing and re-drawing took many hours, routing took fewer hours. The cleanup took a ton of time, mostly because I was teaching myself some of the finishing work.
Here’s the full process:
- Get map of state counties
- Redraw, ensuring it will route out and fit together when done
- Fit onto 6x12 in Illustrator, save as .svg
- Import into Vcarve and set up cuts
- Route 10 blanks with tabs
- Cut out tabs and sand down with Dremel
- Using Dremel 1/8" roundover bit and Dremel routing table, smooth the edge of each part
- Hand sand smooth and test fit
- Place onto 1/4" birch plywood backing, trace outline, cut plywood to slightly larger
- Glue all elements together on plywood
- Using Dremel drums, sand down the plywood to the edge of each outside county
- Sand and finish entire thing, including cleaning up glue spots, high spots, etc.
- Add 3 coats of Danish oil, with 8 hours in between
- Wait a week for the stench to subside
It’s currently hanging on my bedroom wall. I thought about reproducing and selling this, but the time involved isn’t feasible to make a profit so I’m classifying this as “artwork” rather than “production”.
I’ll probably do some more states later, now that I know more. But I’m pretty happy with the outcome.