Introduction: British/American English Vocabulary Board.

Being an English teacher, with an American accent and vocabularylist imprinted in her brains, who teaches British English to her students.. I came up with this interactive British/American English vocabulary board.

In this Instructable I will show you how to design and build your own interactive English vocabulary board. This wooden board is meant to highlight the differences between British and American English vocabulary. These languages both contain words that are not used in the other language, because that other one simply has a different word that still means the same.. e.g. the usage of apartment in American English and flat in British English.

I made a board that has two sides, one British and one American. The board contains "windows" to write different vocabulary items on and I decided to make them "moveable" so you'll be able to check the other side and thus another vocabulary item from a different English speaking country.

Step 1: Collect All Needed Tools/materials


  1. a computer or laptop with Ai Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 installed (either trial or fullversion)
  2. the Laser Cutter Speedy300
  3. a drill


  1. plywood (6mm thick / 400mm x 700mm)
    1. available at Stadslab Rotterdam, the Netherlands
  2. felt, colours of your choosing
    1. I used red, white and blue for the British and American flag
    2. available at (Dutch)
  3. black chalkboardpaint and white chalk
    1. available at (Dutch)
  4. extra small door hinges x8
    1. available at (Dutch)
  5. glue (everything will do, as long as it's not too wet.. glue meant for wallpaper for example)
  6. paintbrushes x2 (1 for paint, 1 for glue)
  7. a pair of scissors and one to cut fabric with
  8. a pencil, pen and an eraser
  9. a ruler of 30cm or above
  10. T-square
  11. sandpaper
  12. rope or a strong piece or ribbon, 1m
  13. stanleyknife
  14. a spatula
  15. a screwdriver

Step 2: Search for Images

We are going to start of by searching for the right image that we will later use for our design.

> Go to or any other website to look for a (drawn) picture of the Big Ben & Empire State Building.

! Use an image containing a front sight view of those buildings.


Big Ben

Empire State Building

Step 3: Ai Starter Pack

To illustrate and print our design, it is necessary to work with Adobe Illustrator.

This actually was my first time trying out the programme and it took me a while before I got the hang of it. Therefore I can advice you to look at one or two video's explaining all the possibilities of Ai first.

Later on in this Instructable, I will also show you a few basic steps on how to start a new design in Ai. So, don't worry!

Step 4: New File in Ai

Download or buy Adobe Illustrator CC first on

! You don't necessarily want to buy Ai, since you'll get a 30 day trial version downloading the programme. Do make sure that you'll finish your design within those 30 days.

> Open Ai Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 on your computer or laptop.

To start a new file..

> Click on File- New...

A new screen will pop up in which you'll have to adjust a few simple things:

> Give your new file a name, Name:

> Fill in width 400mm & height 700mm.

! Make sure that the settings are set on Milimeters

> OK. Now you've created a new, blanc file to create your design in.

Step 5: Open Big Ben in Ai

You'll now open your Big Ben image in Ai.

> Click File - Open...

>and select your image

Your image is now opened in your used-to-be blanc file.

Step 6: Adjusting the Size of Your Big Ben in Ai

> Change the size of your image by clicking and dragging the lines.

! Make sure that the lines of your images are withing the boundaries of your file.

You're also able to zoom in or out by clicking on a percentagebutton in the left cornor of Ai. This will come in handy to zoom in on details or to show your full design.

Step 7: Center Your Big Ben in Ai

> Click on an icon at the top of the programme to center your image in your file.

Step 8: Adding Layers in Ai

Since we'll work with three designs one on board, it is easier to make those designs in the same file by adding layers.

> Click on an icon on the right.

> Click on the empty paper to add a second layer that will appear immediately.

! You now have the possibility to click on those small eyes to see or not see multiple layers and whether they are on the right spot in your design.

Step 9: Tracing Lines in Ai

Your image of the Big Ben is suited in Layer 1. You are now going to trace that image in Layer 2.

> Select Layer 2, but do make sure both eyes are on so you are able to see both layers.

> Click on the pencil on the left and get started.

! Press SHIFT while tracing lines to get straight lines autimatically.

! Switch between layers using the eyes to see how you're doing.

! To make things undone, press CTRL + Z

Step 10: Adjusting the Colour of Your Big Ben in Ai

! It is easier to give your lines a different colour than the colour of the Big Ben, for better guidance.

> Click on the second square at the left corner top to adjust the colour of your lines. Don't use black, use something vibrant.

Step 11: Deleting Layers in Ai

Finished tracing your Big Ben? Delete Layer 1 containing the image of the Big Ben, so you'll be left with just your traced lines.

> Click on the little trash bin in Layers after you've selected the right layer to delete it.

Step 12: Now Repeat Step 5 to 11 for the Empire State Building!

Repeat Step 5 to 11 to include a drawing of the Empire State Building into your design.

! Still use the same file. Simply add 2 extra layers (1 for the image, 1 for your lines).

Step 13: Big Ben & Empire State Building Result

After you've traced both Big Ben & Empire State Building, you're now going to add a third layer to include windows. Make sure those windows will be stated in both buildings. Simply add square shapes.

An example / the one I made is available to download via my Google Drive on:

Step 14: Printing Using a Laser Cutter

The Laser Cutter is available to use at the Stadslab Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Before you'll start printing, make sure that your traced lines contain the right colour and width in Ai.

  1. To make channels, rifles through your wood (not completely cut out), adjust your lines to fully BLACK with a width of 3 pt, unless you prefer thicker.
    1. Big Ben & Empire State Building

  2. To completely cut out pieces, adjust your lines to RED (RGB 255, 0, 0) having a width of 0,01 mm
    1. Windows, don't throw them away! Take them with you, since we'll use them later on.

Ask someone from the Stadslab for guidance. Print your design layer after layer, not all at once, since you want one design at the front and the other at the back.

! Never leave your wood. Fire can be caused.

> Download this (Dutch) file containing a complete checklist using the Laser Cutter via my Google Drive:

> Watch this (Dutch) video on how to print your design using the Laser Cutter:

Step 15: Drawing the Background

Now, you've simple got a wooden board with lines and holes in it. To active my inner creative artist, I decided to decorate the background with the British and American flag. I simply drew on those flags using a pencil.

It works easier to search for an image of the flags first.


Britste vlag:

Amerikaanse vlag:

Copy/paste these images into a blanc Ai file that has the same measurements as the one of your board. By doing so, you'll make sure that your image will have the right size and proportion. Then draw the design on the board.

Step 16: Using Felt to Complete the Background

When you're done drawing on the design, you can get your felt to cut out pieces to decorate your plain board. Of course you are allowed to use any other material you may like as well.

! Keep your image on your laptop while working with felt, so you won't make any mistakes using the wrong colours.

  1. Cut out square pieces with the right measurements first
  2. Then start focusing on the details, as little corners for example

! Keep your pieces of felt on the right spot, so you will get a clear view on the right size and end result.

! Use a fabric scissor instead of a normal one, since you won't be able to cut through the felt.

Step 17: Drill Holes in Both Corners

For my board I thought it'd be easier to hang the board on the wall. Therefore I decided to drill in 2 holes, one in each top corner.

  1. Measure the correct position using a pencil
    1. Make sure that the distance between the top and side are the same
    2. Make sure both holes are at the same position on both sides
  2. Get a drill and choose any size you prefer
  3. Start drilling, slowely. You don't want your board to break.
  4. Get your sandpaper and finish it up.

! To get your sandpaper in, it works easier to wrap the paper around a pen first.

Step 18: Glue on Your Felt

When you are done drilling, you can start by grabbing your glue to stick on those pieces of cut out felt.

! Make sure your glue is sticky enough, but not too wet.

  1. Lay out all your pieces of felt in the right position first.
  2. Use a paintbrush to apply your glue on the board. You can also use a spatula to remove any access glue or get a wet towel to clean up.
  3. Glue on piece by piece. Don't glue on random pieces at a time, since you will have the possibility that you're design won't fit.

Step 19: Rope

Cut a small X in your felt where the holes are using a small stanleyknife or anything sharp. Then simplu pull through your rope or ribbon, so you'll be able to hang your board on the wall.

  1. Measure the right size of your rope first, then cut of
  2. Push the rope through the holes
  3. Tie, securely

Step 20: Painting the Windows

The Laser Cutter cut out our windows and now we're going to paint them black using chalkboardpaint. This type of paint will allow us to write on our windows and erase our words after, so you can add and delete as many vocabulary as you may like.

  1. Place your windows on top of a piece of paper, so anything underneath won't get dirty.
  2. Make sure everything is set to use (paint, paintbrush, papertowel).
  3. First start paiting the upper side of your windows.
  4. Let them sit to dry for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Then turn them around and paint the other side.

! One coat will be enough to cover up your wood.

Step 21: Installing the Windows

After your windows have dried up completely, you can now install them back on your board. I used these very tiny hinges that are made for dollhouses, but perhaps you may come up with something better. I wanted them to move around, so you can see both sides of a window.

Mark the right position of your windows by drawing a small dot. Then start off by pushing your stanleyknife around a bit just to carve out the first layer. This will maker the process easier. Then simply grab your screwdriver and attach your windows back on the board.

You don't need to apply your hinges on one side, but do mark out the right places before you start.

Step 22: End Result

..and there you have it!

It's completely up to you to decorate the rest of the board. You could paint the two towers or make a clock in the Big Ben, for example.

Hopefully you enjoyed this Instructable and GOOD LUCK building your own vocabulary board! :)