Have you ever won an epic board game night? Have you wanted to showcase that victory on your living room wall? Well, with this instructable, you can build your very own wall mountable board game that will be the envy of your guests and the pride of your family.

The Jist of it.
I am a board game geek and a CNC hobbyist. After many games of Settlers of Catan I decided to put my CNC skills to the test and pay omage to Catan. The board in this instructable is 19 hexagons enclosed by a 6 piece hexagon frame with a sheet metal backing. All the pieces, including the frame pieces have pockets for magnets. Additionally, each frame piece has male-to-female puzzle endings (to lock each piece into each other) and a slot for hanging the assembled boardgame (much like a plaque). The beauty of my design is that the final assembly is never permanent and at any time you can un-mount the board from the wall, re-arrange all of the pieces and have a brand new game!

Did I mention that I carved the wood pieces with my home made CNC Mill and laser engraved the designs with a friend's CNC Laser Machine?

If you like this instructable please vote for it by clicking the orange ribbon in the top right corner of the screen!

What You Will Learn.
These instructions use hexagon shapes. However, with some imagination you can apply these instructions to any design so long as it has a frame. You will learn:
1) Necessary Tools, Materials and Wood Selection for CNC Milling & CNC Laser Engraving
2) Designing for CNC Milling and CNC Laser Engraving
4) A few basic wood working skills
5) Tips for CNC Mill operation.
6) Tips for CNC Laser operation.
7) How to move and setup a project from one machine to another using jigs
8) Basics in oiling wood and clear coating

Step 1: Necessary Tools, Materials and Wood Selection for CNC Milling & CNC Laser Engraving

Necessary Tools
CNC Mill (at least 4 inches Z axis travel, I'm guessing yours has a spindle/router, mine is 2.25hp Ridgid Router from Home Depot.)
CNC Laser Machine (with a Z focus of at least an inch)
Jointer 6" wide (bench mounted or stand, not a hand jointer)*
Planer 13" wide (bench mounted or stand, not a hand planer)*
Table Saw**
Grinder (hand held is best)
Sander with Radial Sander (bench mounted is best)
Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks
Clamps (the big spring loaded ones are the best for this)
Digital Caliper
Measuring Tape
Triangular File
1/4" diameter dowels (which actually measure 5.9mm but whatever.)
3/8" Carbide end Mill (up cut) (or, any large carbide end mill for rough work)
1/8" Carbide end Mill (up cut) (or, any smaller carbide end mill for finer work)
60 degrees Carbide V-groove Router Bit
1/4" Dowel (for hammering)
Dust Mask
Eye Protection (goggles or glasses)
Hearing Protection
Push sticks*
Cotton Rags (can be old clothes that are clean! Preferably clothes which have been through several washes, brand new clothes get pilly, don't use towels or the inside of a sock for pilly reasons as well.)
Air brush / Air gun system (if you choose to go this route)

Wood... an abundant amount of wood, see below for choices
Wood Glue
x 2 MDF Sheet at 1/2" or 3/4" thick, and as wide as the bed of the CNC Mill
x 5 MDF Sheet at 1/4" or approx 4mm thick, wouldn't go any thinner)
x 27 Magnets approx 12mm in diameter.
Sheet metal approx 0.75mm to 1mm thickness width
Wood Oil or Wood Stain (my favourite is Natural Danish Oil for Cherry Wood, this is what I used for this project and many others)
Wood Sealer (Water or oil, brush or air gun, your choice, I prefer using airbrush for a streak free look)
Semi gloss or full gloss Lacquer (for clear coating)
Lacquer Reducer

Wood Selection for CNC Milling & Laser Engraving
The Hexagon Frame pieces should have a 'punchy' grain when oiled, and should stand out with a nice 3D raised pattern. Since the frame pieces are also the main structure the wood should be strong. Because the frames will have raised patterns the wood must be hard and easily milled without chipping out (this will leave out most soft woods including pine). The wood must also be light in colour and easy on textures (this will leave out oak) so that it can be laser engraved easily.
1st choice Cherry !!
2nd choice Alder, Birch, Maple,(Birch and Maple are hard on tools, Birch doesn't have a fantastic grain)
3rd choice Mohaganny, (dark wood hard to see laser engravings)
4th choice Oak (very porous and grainy. Only use if your laser engravings and raised patterns are very large)

The inner hexagon tiles shouldn't really have any raised patterns (your choice), but they will definitely need some pockets and bosses to handle game pieces, possibly an inlay if you want to go that far. Above all, the material must be light in colour and not very grainy because the players of your board game are going to have to see the laser engravings very clearly.
1st choice Pine (very cheap and you can easily buy ready made sheets)
2nd choice Baltic Birch Plywood (NOTE: only use fine ply woods with thick layers, ply's tend to chip out very easy so use sharp tools for best results)

*if you can, buy ready made planks of wood already made to size based on dimensions from step 2
** if you can, get the lumber shop to cut (also known as ripping) the lengths of wood that you need.
<p>this is freakin awesome :D</p><p>could you share your dxf files? i would love to have this design and maybe change it up a bit for personal preferences (and my cnc limitations)</p><p>i am quite able gettings the basic shapes but your design is just gorgeous (do you spell it like that?)</p>
<p>Awesome multifunctional art. Beautiful and game night friendly.</p>
Dude ! The result is so awesome ! <br>Some ideas for wooden project coming =D
Hi Rob,<br> Thank you so much for sharing your work !<br> I was shocked (in the best of ways) when I discovered the technologies you use and also by the quality of the final product.<br> I wonder if you could give additionnal information on the computer side of the process.<br> <br> What software do you use to make your plans ?<br> Is there anything special to know on how to communicate with the CNC machines?<br> <br> Olivier
There are many different types of software packages out there. I used a combination of a few because it made my life easier.<br><br>First, decide if you are making 2D or 3D work. If you are making 2D, stick to basic Vector Imaging software like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. This is ideal for laser engraving and cutting basic things on the CNC machine.<br><br>Later, you'll need to do something called POST PROCESSESING which is converting your image to G-CODE. Some CNC machines and Laser machines come built in with their own G-CODING meaning, you upload a vector image and the software on the machine will automatically post process the file. Sometimes you'll have to do this yourself. Solid Works/Solid Cam, Virtual Mill, Vectric are all examples of software that can do this. I'm pretty sure they also do 3D modelling.
Absolutely gorgeous work! The amount of detail is stunning. :D
Hey Jessy <br>Thanks for the comment! This DIY board is booming wih views. I couldn't help but notice you are the contest manager at Instructables. I haven't received word if my project is elegible for the contest. I'm already at 4500 views not one single person can click vote! :( The suspense jessy! Oh the suspense is killing me! <br>Will this project make the contest? <br>-Rob
Yep! I just approved it. :) <br /> <br />Lots of us tend to take weekends off, so contest moderation can be slightly delayed over the weekends - sorry about that! <br /> <br />
No worries and thank you! P.s, are you guys in California? I can see a diference in time from when I post to when Instructables logged the post.
Yup - we're in San Francisco. :D
Got the game as a present 2 yrs ago. Still have not played a full game (lack of interest from other potential players). I've always hated the way the original cardboard parts flop about during game play (and mind you, it was only half a game). <br> <br>When mounted on the wall it looks like some kind of ancient calendar or glyph. High cool factor.
I was shooting for the 'Old Map&quot; look with the border pieces. Now that you mention it , from afar it does look completely ancient and exotic. Maybe on the next iteration I'll include some symbols or real glyps to boost that cool factor?
Absolutely beautiful! <br> <br>And the wonderful part is that not much extra work would be needed to extend this to the 6 player version.
I was thinking about that. You're right, its not a big step to add on the extra attachments. Once you have your designs done it's just a matter of popping on some material and turning everything on... as well as finding a place to do it!
maks me wish i had a CNC mashine
Nice work
Just one word - O_O. Okay, not a word, but you are free to interpret it however you like. Thanks for sharing!
This is MUCH better than the original game! And you even kept the movable terrain!

About This Instructable


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Bio: Practises Art, Science and Sorcery as an Iron-ringed Engineer.
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Tags: CNC Board Game
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