CNC Catan Board

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Introduction: CNC Catan Board

I had seen various wooden Catan sets before but I really wanted to create my own. This is the main reason I decided to build a cnc router. Many versions were just laser engraved and were just made out of one kind of wood that was painted/stained different colors depending on the resources. I wanted to make each resource tile out of a different wood, using it's natural color to represent the materials.

Supplies

CNC Supplies:

CNC Router (I used my MPCNC)

Wood:

  • Sheep: Maple
  • Wood: Poplar
  • Wheat: Oak
  • Brick: Padauk
  • Ore: Wenge
  • Desert: Walnut
  • Wood sealant

Bits:

  • 1/16 two flute end mill
  • 1/8 two flute end mill
  • 30 degree v-bit

3D Printing Supplies:

3D Printer (I used my Prusa MK3S)

Filament:

Step 1: Collecting Designs

I considered designing all my own printed pieces but decided to check out what others had designed first to see if I could save some time. I needed these before I designed my tiles so I could design the tiles to accommodate their shapes.

I ended up really liking the following .stl files on Thingiverse so I decided to use them for the 3D printed pieces:

I went through the wood I had and what the local stores had to figure out what wood would best represent each type of resource. I decided on the following:

Sheep: Maple

Wood: Poplar

Wheat: Oak

Brick: Padauk

Ore: Wenge

Desert: Walnut

Step 2: Designing the Hex Tile

I designed the tiles to be the same size as the standard Catan tiles but I added indents for the cities/settlements in the corners and indents for the roads along the flats so that they would stay in place if the table is bumped. I made sure to make them a tad bigger than the piece models. I then saved the drawing as a .dxf file that way the dimensions would remain.

All .dxf files can be found HERE. They are all in mm if you wish to keep the same scale as the standard game.

Step 3: Designing the Border Tiles

I added all the hex tiles together and used them to create the border pieces. I wanted the border to be round instead of hex shape but still needed there to be six pieces so that three could have 2 ports and three could have 1 port. I added puzzle piece like ends to them so they would link together. I also added the same indents to match the hex pieces. They were designed the same until I added the ports. I added two ports to one of them and one I added one port to the other. I would need to cut out three of each kind.

The square corners of the port point to the two locations that the port applies to.

Step 4: Designing the Number and Trading Tiles

The number tiles and trading tiles were created to be the same shape as the pockets I had already created in the previous parts. I should have made the port pieces a tad smaller like I did with the number tiles. I ended up having to lightly sand them to get them to fit.

Step 5: Assembly Check

Once I created all the individual parts, I needed to put it all together in an assembly just to double check I didn't goof up anything when designing it. Everything fit up well and I didn't see any concerns.

Step 6: Symbol Designs

I wanted a minimalistic design to mine and instead of doing one large image over the entire surface I wanted to use 3 smaller symbols per hex tile. I looked around on the internet and found These Designs. I got the designers permission to make modified versions to accommodate my engraving. I used Solidworks to sketch these and then saved them as .dxf files so that I could just engrave along the lines.

Step 7: CNC Router Setup

I needed to make sure this was as consistent as I could so I set up a 2 inch wide piece along the edge that I would use to make sure the height was the same on every piece. My cnc router auto homes in that corner and then I used a z-probe on that stationary piece to make sure the height was the same every time. I just had to accommodate for this piece in when I set up the GCode in the cam software.

Step 8: Setting Up the Cam Program to Generate the CNC GCode

I added the tile pieces I need into my cam software (I used ESTLCAM because it is simple and cheap and works well for my needs) and then aligned them onto the board size I had. I then added the symbols and text that I needed and made sure they were aligned as I wanted them on the piece.

I didn't walk through every step in setting this up because you may be using a different cam software but it should be noted that you can see my cutting settings and the colors in the pictures indicate different cutting depths. The entire piece is a green-ish color because that was the surfacing pass to make them the same height. You can also see the 2 inch space I put on the left to account for the wood piece that sets the height.

If you are wondering what the random symbol is in the empty space, I cut a sample symbol on each piece to test how well the symbol would come out before I continued with the cut. It helped out a couple times when I found out I needed to modify the shape to machine better.

I had to use the 1/16 bit for the road indents due to the smaller size. I used the 1/8 bit for the city/settlement indent along with surfacing the top to ensure all the tiles are the same height.

I then used the v-bit to engrave the symbols and text. I finished it off by using the 1/8 but to cut out the pieces.

This involved multiple tool changes so you will need to make sure you are comfortable with that. I did quite a few other projects that I cared less about to make sure I had the tool changing down.

Step 9: Cutting Out the Pieces

Here you can see the pieces after I ran the GCode. I don't have a good way to record the cutting at the moment so I only have the pictures of after the cut. I only remembered to take pictures of some of them but they all look pretty much the same after the cutting. As you can see, the pieces are shorter than the wood it was cut from. This is ensuring all the pieces are the same height since there is some variation on wood thicknesses.

I cut this on my MPCNC. It is a great cnc router for any hobbyist because it can be made to the size you need (to an extent) and is very affordable. If you want to know more check out the site HERE.

I just added a picture of the sawdust because it looks cool to see the different layers from the different wood types.

Step 10: Sheep Tiles

Here are closeups of the sheep tiles. These were cut out of a 13 x 6 piece of Maple. I decided to cut the 3:1 ports out of maple too because it cuts really well and is the lightest of the woods which allows the engraving to show up better.

Step 11: Brick Tiles

Here are closeups of the brick tiles. These were cut out of a 12 x 6 piece of Padauk. I cut out 4 hex tiles but I only need 3 for the set.

Step 12: Ore Tiles

Here are closeups of the ore tiles. These were cut out of a 12 x 6 piece of Wenge. I also cut out 4 hex tiles but I only need 3 for the set.

Step 13: Wood Tiles

Here are closeups of the wood tiles. These were cut out of a 11 x 8 piece of Poplar. Poplar is not fun to machine because it tends to leave fuzzy edges. I needed to make sure to use a new v-bit for the engraving on this to give me the cleanest edges.

Step 14: Wheat Tiles

Here are closeups of the wheat tiles. These were cut out of a 9 x 8 piece of Oak.

Step 15: Desert Tile

Here are closeups of the desert tile. This was cut out of a 6 x 3 piece of Walnut. I made sure to only cut the center hole 2mm deep so that the robber would have an indent to sit into.

Step 16: Number Tiles

Here are closeups of the number tiles. These were cut out of a 6 x 6 piece of Maple. Normally Catan has the 6 and 8 tiles different to make them stand out but since we are very familiar with the game I made them all the same. If you want them to stand out then you can paint the 6 and 8 tiles red like the game does. There should be two of every number 1-12 except that there are no 1 or 7 pieces and only one 2 and one 12 piece.

Step 17: Border Tiles

Here are closeups of the border tiles. These are made out of 6 11 x 6 pieces of Maple. There needs to be 3 of each kind.

Step 18: 3D Print the Pieces

I really liked this filament because of its matte finish and not overly bright colors. Unfortunately it is out of stock often and is a bit pricy but it prints super nice. I also wanted a granite style filament to go along with it because I though the colors looked good together.

I printed these with a 0.2mm nozzle to get the best resolution for the intricate details.

For a standard set, you need 4 cities, 5 settlements, and 15 roads or each color. You also need a single robber.

Step 19: (Optional) 3D Print Expansion Pieces

My wife and I really like the cities and knights expansion so I also printed the pieces needed for that. It requires 6 knights (2 level one, 2 level two, and 2 level three) with their activation crowns and three city walls for each color. It also needs three metropolises that I printed out of the granite.

Step 20: Assemble and Play

Now with everything cut it just took some light sanding to remove any burs and then I applied a light coat of sealant just in case anything spills on it. Then it's time to play.

Just in case anyone wanted to know the size there is a banana for scale.

I really like the set and it is lots of fun to play with. I hope you enjoyed and maybe inspired you to make one yourself.

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    19 Comments

    0
    Lucas Nam
    Lucas Nam

    Question 11 months ago

    what are you using as your cnc spindle? I am building the MPCNC.

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Answer 10 months ago

    Sorry this is so late. Instructables wasn't sending emails about comments. I am using the dewalt 660. It was what was recommended, has worked well for me so far, and was pretty cheap. I've seen others use various routers so it depends on what is for sale around you and what mounts you can find.

    0
    cl12
    cl12

    11 months ago

    This is a very nice achievement. Purist board players are all going to want it. And I know a few including me. You should set a price for the kit. Christmas is coming !

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you. I'd love to sell them but the investment and time is a bit much at the moment. My project list is a little full at the moment. If I ever get around to it then I'll post a link in this intructable.

    0
    jrial
    jrial

    Reply 11 months ago

    Well, that, and you don't own the copyright. In fact, this project is already in violation by publishing the designs. It's one thing to create them for personal use. It might even be considered fair use in certain jurisdictions. And who's gonna tell Klaus anyway? Putting them online for anyone to download and mill/print is a whole different matter. Actually manufacturing and selling them, however, is just asking for trouble.

    That said, nice designs. Gives the game some class, which you can't really get with cardboard pieces.

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Reply 11 months ago

    This seems to be a little bit of a gray area because this is not the full game. It still requires you to buy the game to get the cards and other pieces. From what I've found, copyright would prevent me from using any of their illustrations or their printed instructions. I wouldn't be selling the game, I'd be selling a game accessory that doesn't use their illustrations. Just like selling aftermarket car parts. I am no lawyer but this is what all the many dozens of people who sell wooden game boards say. I just can't sell the 3d printed pieces without permission because they are not my designs.

    0
    jrial
    jrial

    Reply 11 months ago

    I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you this much: whether it's a complete reproduction, or a partial one, doesn't matter for copyright law. If I post the first 10 minutes of a movie online, I'll still be in violation, even if I argue "it's not complete, people will still have to buy the movie to see the ending".

    The aftermarket part you bring up doesn't apply. Cars are for the most part not covered under copyright law, but trademark and patent law: a seller of aftermarket parts is not allowed to use the car brand's logo without a license (trademark), and if technology in the original part is covered by patents, the aftermarket part seller must find a way of achieving the same result without using that particular technology. An example of this would be the round "spyderhole" used on Spyderco knives to assist in one-hand opening. They patented this particular "technology", and other brands that want to make one-handers will have to resort to other methods. Such as thumb studs, or differently shaped holes (e.g. oval, which is more costly to manufacture than round).

    Not dissing your work, btw. I think it's great, and I'm glad you decided to share it. Obviously, I've already collected the designs on Thingiverse. ;)

    While this is probably violating their intellectual property, IP holders usually don't go after the enthusiastic fanbase for passion projects such as yours. But the moment you start earning money from it, no matter how little, they start seeing things very differently.

    That said, if there are actual IP lawyers reading these comments, feel free to chime in and correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Reply 11 months ago

    Oh, I didn't think you were dissing my work, I was just curious about what the laws actually say.

    I did some more looking and here is what I found if you are curious. This only applies to US copyright so it may be different depending on where you are.
    https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/493249/mythbustin...
    This does a good job discussing what copyright and trademarks cover and what would be infringing on them in regard to board games.
    All I have found says copyright protects the text in rules, cards, and other components, as well as the original art and graphic designs used in the game design. (basically the text or art is covered) It says there is very little protection for board games in copyright law. This board does not use any of those things that would be covered by copyright.
    As for Trademarks. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. This is not stating it is Catan, rather it is something that is compatible with Catan. Maybe for safety I would have to change the name to "hex shaped trading game board" or something as to not specify Catan specifically but not sure.
    Your example of the movie I don't think really applies the same way either because it is the original art of the person who made it and therefor would be covered by copyright. I am only copying the game principals which is not covered by copyright. None of their original art is used here.
    Again I could be wrong too but just wanted to let you know what I had found. It actually makes me feel bad how little protection game makers have but that's a different discussion entirely.

    0
    ItsGraGra
    ItsGraGra

    11 months ago

    How big is the Banana?

    0
    jrial
    jrial

    Reply 11 months ago

    Catan board for scale.

    0
    BorisH12
    BorisH12

    11 months ago

    Beautiful! I realy like the use of difference kinds of wood and the combination with 3d prints.

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks! I did a lot of searching to try and find a good combination.

    0
    Jtcrawford25
    Jtcrawford25

    11 months ago

    Awesome! I just want to buy one from you, way beyond my skill set : )

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks. I had considered selling them but with the amount of time they would probbaly be way too expensive.

    0
    Ricotte
    Ricotte

    Question 11 months ago

    Nice work! You say that you saved the symbol designs as dxf files, but I did not see them when I downloaded the dxf files at the link you gave (there are 5 dxf files, one for a blank hex, one for a number blank, one for a port blank, and two for edges). Please let me know if I missed where the symbol dxf files are. Since the symbols are the hardest part to get in a format for the CNC, it would be nice to have those files. Also, do you have any stl files for the 3d printed pieces? I also couldn't find any files for those that I could send to a 3d printer. Great looking board-- I want to make one!

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Answer 11 months ago

    Thanks for pointing that out, I forgot to add them to that link. I'll add them shortly. There are links to the .stl files for the 3d printed pieces in step one.

    0
    thediylife
    thediylife

    11 months ago

    This is a really cool design, well done! I'd love to be able to cast the cities, roads and knights to make metal pieces, perhaps out of pewter as its easy to work with.

    0
    IJustLikeMakingThings
    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks! I actually just made a foundry, I made an instructable for it, and I was thinking the same thing. I just need to get semi decent at casting before I try such small pieces. So, maybe some day.