This Instructable follows the same structure as my previous Instructables on making a laser-cut lamp and jewelry but it a little more experience (or persistence ) is needed for the Inkscape stages. As long as you've got a computer that can run a vector software package you'll be able to achieve some very cool results.
If you prefer to skip the Instructable and just get making, feel free to download the .eps files I've already created.
Let me know how you get on!
Step 1: Stuff You'll Need
A steady hand
Ponoko Inkscape templates
Some double sided tape or glue at the end to assemble the backing board.
Step 2: Download and Open Inkscape
Once you've downloaded the Inkscape application, follow the installation steps.
Once you've installed it, open up Inkscape so it's ready for the next step...
Step 3: Download and Open the P3 Template
Once you've downloaded the starter kit, you'll see there are 3 Ponoko templates to choose from.
Open the P3.svg Ponoko template. (You can double click on the file or use the menu options inside Inkscape (File > Open) and then find the file P3.svg from there.)
You'll see an orange box with the words 'safe area' when you open the P3.svg. For these decorations you'll be working work with the largest material size available - the P3. Its dimensions are 31.1 x 15.1 inches or 790 x 384 mm.
If you're interested, you'll find the starter kit includes the Ponoko making guide which contains all sorts of helpful information about designing and making with Ponoko.
Step 4: Construct a Grid
You can create guide lines by clicking in the ruler area on the left and top of the window, holding and dragging out a guide.
To edit the positioning, double click on the guide and a window will open up allowing you to edit the value.
Step 5: Draw the Puzzle Pieces Cut Line
Using the Pen Tool I started drawing the jigsaw lines. Click a point and hold down the mouse button to create the bezier handles and create a curve. If you don't hold down the mouse button you will not create curves but corners.
I find it best start rough and then come back and alter the beziers later.
You can vary the shapes in size and shape a bit if you want.
Step 6: Copy, Paste and Rotate
To mix it up, so all the pieces were not the same, I used the flip and rotate tools to get a bit of variation in the shapes of the pieces.
Step 7: Outline and Border for the Pieces
I used the x and y values to then position it in the right place.
The rectangle was then copied and pasted adjacent to what is already drawn. This will become the base board later.
Step 8: Find/create an Image
Click print at the top right and Google will open the map in another window. The printer dialog box opens up and you can select the printer you want. I printed to PDF using CutePDF Writer so I could then open the image up later in another program. If you're on a Mac it's as easy as going:
File > Print > PDF > Save as PDF...
Step 9: Convert PDF to JPEG
Step 10: Open Map Image in Inkscape and Start Tracing
Position it off the side of the template for now.
Using the pen tool, start tracing around the different areas of the map. I started with the water area in blue. This time you need not worry about clicking and dragging bezier handles as all the corners are sharp. By using the pen tool you create a closed shape which can then have a fill applied to it.
Step 11: Fill the Water
Don't worry about the stroke color or weight as we will alter this later. You can also leave this window open so you can easily access it later.
Step 12: Tracing Main Road
The main road in orange is traced next. I then filled it with a medium grey fill so it will have a medium raster engraving.
The parks in green are also traced and have a light grey fill (R:230 G:230 B:230 A:255).
Step 13: Tracing More Roads
After I had finished all the outline i applied a light grey fill to the largest shape. Note how all the internal shapes are filled as well. The next step shows how this is remedied.
Step 14: Excluding Filled Areas
From the Path menu select Exclusion. This will punch the smaller shape from the large one.
Work your way around the image until you have punched out all the internal shapes and you are left with just the areas where the roads are with the light grey fill as shown in the last image.
The good thing about using this technique is that now it is one shape that can be moved and edited easily.
Step 15: Tracing the Smallest Roads
The 2nd image shows all the roads without the background.
Step 16: Changing Colors and Line Weights
I wanted to put a light vector around the perimeter to add some crispness to the engraving. Set the stroke color to green (R:0 G:255 B:0 A:255) and the width to 0.003mm.
I also did the same to the water areas and the park areas. For the main road I used a red (R:255 G:0 B:0 A:255) line to give it a heavier vector engraving.
Step 17: More Line Colors and Weights
Change the line color to green (R:0 G:255 B:0 A:255) and the line weight to 0.003mm. With all the lines still selected, go to the Object menu and select Group. This will link all the lines and make them a bit easier to manage.
Now the map has been traced you can delete it from the background.
Step 18: Resizing Map
Step 19: Changing Line Weights and Colors of the Jigsaw Pieces.
Color - Blue (R:0 G:0 B:255 A:255)
Line weight - 0.003mm.
You may want to group all the lines after you have changed the color and line weight.
Step 20: Combining Everything
Image 2 shows how to raise the blue cut lines to be on top of the filled areas of the map. The order shouldn't make any difference to the laser cutter but its good to see where all the pieces will be cutting out just in case anything needs altering.
With the blue jigsaw pieces selected, select Raise to Top from the Object menu. The 3rd image shows the result with all the cut lines visible.
Step 21: Save As an Eps File
Choose "Save As..." from the "File" menu. A dialog box appears (see image below). Change the name to "jigsaw". Now choose "Encapsulated Postscript (*.eps)." from the drop-down list.
Now click "Save". When the "Output" panel appears make sure the "Convert texts to paths" tickbox is ticked, then click "OK".
Step 22: Uploading .eps Files to Ponoko
1. If you've already got a MyPonoko account - then log in. If not, sign up for an account.
2. Once in MyPonoko, click on "Add" in the red bar. When the page loads, click on "Add a new design."
3. To upload your .eps files click on "Add an .eps file" and then choose or browse for your .eps file on your computer.
4. If you want to upload more than one .eps file, click the "Add another .eps file" button and repeat step 3 as necessary.
5. If you have any trouble uploading your file, head over to the forum.
6. Click "Done"
Note: Leave MyPonoko open, you'll need it open for the next few steps.
The images below show this process in detail.
Step 23: Choose a Material
While still in MyPonoko, click on the "Show me the material catalog first" button or follow this link.
By browsing through the Ponoko materials catalog you can compare materials and decide which is best for you.
I decided to use 4mm Plywood - Eurolite (Italian Poplar) as the engraving will contrast nicely with the pale finish of the timber.
Note: Remember to leave MyPonoko open, you'll need it open for the next few steps.
Step 24: Adding Materials to Your .eps Files
Go back to your MyPonoko account and click the "Yes" button under the 'Would you like to add materials now?" question.
You'll then need to choose from the drop-down list.
If you measure in mm:
> Type: Plywood - Eurolite (Italian Poplar)
> Thickness: 4.0mm
> Sheet size: 790mm long x 384mm wide
To confirm your material choice, click the "Add this material" button, then click "Done".
To see the cost of your materials click the "Show details" link and you'll see a breakdown of your costs.
Note: Leave MyPonoko open, you'll need it open for one final step :)
Step 25: Make Your Puzzle
Click the "Make it" button to start making.
The first screen confirms the details of your order as well as showing the costs so far. Click "Step 2" and then follow the making steps:
1. Add shipping address
2. Add billing address
3. Review and confirm
4. Add payment details
5. And we're done.
Now you just have to wait for your laser-cut parts to be delivered!
Step 26: Laser Cutting...
Step 27: Peel Off the Backing
Step 28: Assemble the Base Board
Stick it to the backing board.
Now you can have fun completing the puzzle.
If you'd like download the .eps files I created with these designs.