Catan is a family strategy boardgame for 3-4 players (previously called "Settlers of Catan"). It has a clever modular board that is arranged differently each time you play. Catan has inspired many different 3D versions; the board represents an island with 6 different terrain types, so it is the perfect game to model, be it out of resin or cupcakes. Searching the wider web will reveal literally dozens of versions, many exquisitely modeled, and even a commercial version which sold (originally) for over $300. OK, Catan is hardly chess, but it's off to a decent start.
The board described here was made from scrap plywood, wood glue, inexpensive acrylic paint and some leftover polyurethane.
Step 1: Why?
The board that comes with Catan has hexagons and a border made of light cardboard. A few boisterous kids and a little warping and the game can be pretty frustrating to play. My initial fix was to glue the border down to a large hexagon of plywood (see pictures).
We usually buy a family board game for Christmas, but this year I thought I'd try my hand at making a 3D Catan set out of materials I had lying around. If you want to make one like it, you'll still need a copy of the game! It's easy to find online or at bookstores.
Step 2: You'll need...
Some 1/4" plywood. I had an offcut that was 8' long and about 1' wide; this was plenty for everything except the base. I had another piece of 3/8" plywood, part of a packing crate, that I used for the base. To cut out the hexagons - at least if you use my method - you'll need a miter saw. To rip the plywood, you'll need a table saw (or bench saw or circular saw with a guide). And to cut out the little pieces of plywood that make the board 3D, I used a scrollsaw. If you could tolerate a little less detail, a jigsaw might do the trick too. I'll suggest some simpler alternatives for each terrain type.