Introduction: Laser Cut Catan Board

I've been an avid Catan player for several years now, and own all the expansions. I thought it would be nice to play on a custom wooden board with HD textures, so I made one.

In this tutorial, I will sow you how to make your own customized Catan board using any images you like.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the game Settles or Catan, and I am not making any profit off of sharing this design. I have purchased the game, and am only making a few replacement parts. You will still need to purchase the board game so you can have all the other pieces (this tutorial is only to make a board).

Required materials:

A sheet of plywood (.125" or .25", depending on the desired thickness of the game board).


Required tools:

CNC Laser cutter

Color printer

Scissors or an exacto knife

Glue sticks


Step 1: Laser Cutting the Pieces

This tutorial assumes you have access to and operator's knowledge of a CNC lasercutter. As each machine's software and interface are drastically different, I'll have to assume that you know how to operate the laser cutter you will be using.

If you want to make a default board for 4 players, download the catan default board file. If you want to play the seafarer's expansion, you will need to download the other file. The default board is 19 hexes, and seafarers is 49 hexes. You will need about 12x24" for the default board, and about 24x30" for seafarers.

Note: this can be done without a laser cutter. You will need experience with a scroll saw though. If you print out the pdf of the board pieces, you can glue it to some plywood and cut out the hexagonal pieces using a scroll saw. This is because the parts are all basic haxagons. it is much quicker and easier to cut the pieces out with a laser cutter though.

Step 2: Sanding the Pieces

After the peices have been cut out on your laser cutter, you may want to clean up the char marks on the edges.

I sanded the edges of the hexes, because it looks nicer and they won't get your hands charred when playing with the set. Above you can see an example of one hex I sanded and another one that I didn't sand. Sanding isn't strictly necessary though, especially if you opted to make the 1/8" thick board. For the 1/4" thick board though, it may be slightly charred and sanding will be worthwhile.

Be sure to decide if you want to sand it now though. After we apply the designs, the sanding process will be much more difficult and will probably mess up the paper designs.

Step 3: Printing the Designs

I made 2 boards for the price of one essentially. I put one design theme on one side of the hexes and another design theme on the other. On the back, I put Minecraft images of different biomes, and on the front I put HD images of each biome I found on google images. I personally really like the HD textures one.

I included some of the images I used for the HD version above. If you like these, print out each image based on the amount of times it appears in the list below for your desired board type. For example, if I wanted to make a seafarer's board, I would need to print 5 forest images, 5 ore images, etc. The images attached to this part are, in order, forest, ore, clay, wheat, sheep, desert, gold, and ocean. You can also use your own images for this step.

Take the images you want to be on your hexes and print out the following amounts:

For the default board:

4 forest

3 ore

3 clay

4 wheat

4 sheep

1 desert

For the seafarer's board:

5 forest

5 ore

5 clay

5 wheat

5 sheep

3 desert

2 gold

19 ocean

Step 4: Applying the Designs

What I did was print out designs just bigger than the hex. Then I cut out the design, applied glue from a glue stick to the wooden hex, and pressed the design on. I let it dry for a few minutes, and then I placed the hex face down and used an exacto knife to trim away the excess paper.

You can also trace the hex onto the design and carefully cut it out with scissors if you do not have an exacto knife, although it won't come out as clean as the first method.

Doing this for all the hexes (especially if you are making the seafarer's board) can take quite awhile. I spent a solid hour gluing and trimming the paper onto the hexes. Just be patient ans stick with it, because the end result is a really nice quality board.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Catan is one of my favorite games and I hope you guys can have as much fun with your custom board as I ahve had with mine. Let me know if any parts were unclear, or if you have any other feedback.


skistler (author)2017-08-12

Nicely done! One option that might save you time and ensure perfect alignment is to apply the design before laser cutting. If you are worried about charring (more likely with 1/4" than 1/8"), you can then apply low tack transfer tape and remove the transfer tape afterwards or apply a light coat of clear gloss sealer and then mild charring wipes away. You may want to apply sealer anyway so your gorgeous images don't get damaged over time.

jkmoule (author)skistler2017-08-15

Hi skistler, I never thought about either of those 2 methods, but I will surely use them in the future. Thanks for sharing your ideas :)

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