Introduction: Duke Nukem 3D Beverage Coaster

Picture of Duke Nukem 3D Beverage Coaster
I recently got myself a scroll saw, so I could make more precise and quicker cuts when doing detailed woodworking. I was trying to come up with a cool project to get some initial scroll sawing experience, and then it hit me, right in the face: I've been playing some good old Duke Nukem 3D, and it's pretty hard to miss that nuke/radioactive symbol exploding whenever you boot up the game. I figured you could make a pretty kick-ass coaster with that nuke symbol, so that's what we're going to make in this instructable.

Note that, while I'm using a scroll saw, you can also use a jigsaw or a fret saw just the same. You'll probably make a rougher cut, but that just means you'll need to spend a little more time filing and sanding to end up with a similar result. With that out of the way, what are you waiting for? Christmas? Let's get started!

PS: For the Dukes and Dukettes among you, I couldn't help but sneak 10 of Duke's classy one-liners into this instructable. Do you have the balls of steel to find them all? :) (You' ve already seen 2 so far; 8 to go!)

Table of contents:
  1. Tools and materials
  2. Transfer the line art to wood
  3. Saw the basic shape
  4. Make the beveled edges
  5. Make the nuke's centre
  6. It's colourin' time
  7. Finishing touches

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
Tools:
  • Scroll saw (alternatively a jigsaw or a fret saw)
  • Plunge router with a 45° chamfer bit, and a straight bit 
    (alternatively wood files and sandpaper can be used)
  • Backsaw (optional)
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper (with a fine grit size)
  • Wood files and/or rasps (half-round and triangular)
  • Small chisel (actually, I used a small flat screwdriver as a chisel)
  • Utility knife
  • Some clamps
  • Printer

Materials:
  • Small sheet of wood
    (preferably MDF; about 12x12 cm should be plenty, with a thickness of 12 mm)
  • Pencil (a regular no. 2 / HB pencil)
  • Colour pencil (amber-coloured .. or whatever colour you'd like your nuke symbol to be)
  • Sheet of paper and some tape (alternatively, a sheet of transfer paper is even better)
  • Wood glue
  • Clear lacquer (I used a matte lacquer spray)
  • Bubble gum, 'cause I'm all out (optional)

Step 2: Transfer the Line Art to Wood

Picture of Transfer the Line Art to Wood
First we need to get the nuke symbol out of the game and onto a piece of wood, so I fired up the game and took a screenshot. I noticed the nuke wasn't perfectly circular, so I drew a couple of proper circles on top (in Illustrator) to fix that problem. You can find the nuke's line art it in the .pdf file attached to this step.

Once you've printed that .pdf, we need to transfer the nuke symbol onto our sheet of wood. In case you happened to print it onto transfer paper, that should be pretty straight-forward. However, since I don't have any transfer paper laying around, here's a neat trick to transfer drawings using plain copy paper:
  • Who wants some.. graphite? Grab a pencil and cover the entire back of your printout, as shown in the third picture of this step.
  • Tape the printout to your sheet of wood, as you can see in the fourth picture.
  • Now you can transfer the nuke symbol by tracing the lines with a pencil .. or any other object with a sharp end really. 
  • Remove the printout from the wood and you should see a faint trace of the nuke. You may want to retrace those lines so you can easily see them when sawing. It's also a good idea to mark which areas need to be removed, or should become beveled edges, as you can see in the fifth picture.

Side notes:
  • To make sure my largest mug (8,9 cm / 3,5" diameter) would fit onto the coaster, I resized the coaster in MS Publisher. (You can of course do that in Illustrator too, but I find it more convenient to work with real-world units in Publisher, so..) You can see the mug represented as the blue circle in the first picture of this step.
  • The attached .pdf file also contains a smaller picture labeled the "nuke symbol's centre". Don't worry about this part for now; I'll get back to it in step 5.

Step 3: Saw the Basic Shape

Picture of Saw the Basic Shape
After transferring the nuke symbol onto a sheet of wood, you can saw the nuke's basic shape with a scroll saw. To cut away the three inner sections of the nuke, I drilled a few holes to get a starting point for the scroll saw. The sawing doesn't have to be spot-on, since you can always clean up any excess with some files and/or sandpaper.

Side notes:
  • Be sure to cut out the little cylinder in the middle of the nuke as well. We'll make use of it in step 5.
  • As mentioned earlier, you can also use a jigsaw or a fret saw instead of a scroll saw. In this case it's probably better to cut out the nuke's three inner sections first, before sawing the entire circle, so it's easier to clamp down the wood.
  • It's important that you end up with smooth sides after sawing, so you may want to do some extra sanding. In step 6 we're going to colour the nuke, and the wood won't pick up colour as well if the surface is too rough.

Step 4: Make the Beveled Edges

Picture of Make the Beveled Edges
Time to bevel the edges on this sucker:
  • Use a (plunge) router with a 45° chamfer bit to bevel the nuke's edges. (I also made a bevel on the bottom of the nuke; it makes the coaster look a little thinner.) Be sure to clamp down the nuke to your work bench; this router's a force to be reckoned with.
  • You won't be able to reach some of the sharp corners with the router, but that's okay. You can clean up those corners with a triangular file.
  • Use some sand paper and/or a file to create a bevel on the small cylinder that forms the centre of the nuke.
  • For each of the three sections/spikes of the nuke symbol, you'll also need to carve a small gutter, as you can see if you look closely at the third picture of this step. To make this gutter:
    • First cut along the pencil line with a utility knife.
    • Make one or two more passes with the knife if needed.
    • Now you can carve the gutter with a small chisel (I used a flat screwdriver..) using the line that you just cut as a guide.

Step 5: Make the Nuke's Centre

Picture of Make the Nuke's Centre
In this step we'll make the small piece that connects the cylinder in the middle of the nuke to the rest of the symbol.
  • In step 2 you already printed this small connector piece on paper. Now transfer the piece onto wood, just like you did in step 2. It should look like the shape in the first picture of this step.
  • Use the scroll saw to cut out the connector piece.
  • I used my 12 mm thick wood to make this piece, but it needs to be much thinner. I used a backsaw to cut it down to about 3 mm. It's okay to cut it a little too thick first; you can just use a file or rasp afterwards to get the desired thickness. You should end up with the piece shown in the first picture.
  • Flip over your nuke and place the connector piece in the right location, as you can see in the second picture. Use a pencil to trace the connector piece's outline onto the nuke symbol.
  • This part can get a little finnicky: The goal is to insert the connector piece into the nuke symbol such that you almost can't tell they're two seperate pieces when you look at the entire thing from the top side. In the third picture you can see what it should look like from the bottom side.
    • First you'll need to make three notches (3 mm deep) in the nuke symbol with the plunge router (using a straight router bit). The pencil markings you made serve as a guide here.
    • Now you'll need to chip away teeny tiny bits and pieces from the connector piece with a scroll saw, until you can get the piece to fit into into the three notches. I managed to get a pretty tight fit, so no wood glue was needed for the piece to stay put.
  • Finally, file/rasp away 3 mm (or more) of height from the small cylinder that you made in step 3. Now place the cylinder in the middle of the nuke to see what it looks like, just like the fourth picture of this step. Don't glue the cylinder in there yet! It's much easier to colour the entire thing with the cylinder still separated from the rest of the nuke.

Step 6: It's Colourin' Time

Picture of It's Colourin' Time

It's a good day to dye .. this nuke with some colour pencils. Before adding colour, let's do a little damage first: See how the nuke has all these dents and scratches? You can easily create this weathered look by just poking around with either a flat screwdriver or a small chisel.
Once the damage is done, colour the dents and scratches you made with a pencil. You can then continue adding colour to the entire nuke. Simply use the amber colour pencil for the top surface, and the regular pencil for everything else.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches
Almost done, just a few more finishing touches:
  • Use a dab of wood glue to attach the cylinder to the middle of the nuke symbol.
  • I didn't want to use clamps to hold down this little cylinder, since attaching the clamps would surely shift the cylinder out of its position. Instead, I first put a coin on top of the cylinder to add some height, as I made my cylinder less tall than the rest of the nuke. I then stacked a bunch of books on top of the nuke, such that gravity basically gives you as much clamping force as you want.
  • Once the glue has dried, grab your can of clear lacquer and shake it baby! Spray on a few coats of lacquer to add some protection to the coaster against water and the like, such that you can actually use this thing as a coaster.
  • Let the lacquer dry and you're done! Have yourself a drink and enjoy!

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