Introduction: Cool Easy Map Book Supporters

We made these as a fun project, which looks good on a bookshelf as well as testing various key skills needed for woodworking and art. This project was inspired by a photo of London at night. It effectively communicates the relationship between humans and nature which is a key concern in this day and age. Especially with the current climate strike and global warming tensions. It also represents human success and values; we included the statue of liberty in one of our silhouettes which was a gift to America. This represents friendship and the engineering marvels highlights the inventiveness of humans.


  • 2x 9mm thick MDF squares 12cm x 12cm
  • PVA Wood glue
  • Wood shavings
  • Acrylic paints
  • 3mm MDF
  • Black acrylic 4mm


  • Laser Cutter
  • Tenon Saw
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Try Square
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint Pallets
  • Glue Spreaders


  • 2D design

Step 1: Marking Out the Wood for the Lap Joint Cut

  1. Place the 2 pieces of wood at right angles to each other and draw a line in pencil along the overlap.
  2. Using the piece of wood that you just drew your line on rotate it 90 degrees and draw a line halfway down the side. To ensure it was straight we used a try square.
  3. Mark all sides with this so that the area to be cut is clearly marked.

Step 2: Cut the Lap Joint Using a Hand Saw

  1. Cut using a hand saw along the marked line to halfway down the wood. We used a bench hook to try to ensure that the cut was straight.

Step 3: Chisel Out the Piece of Wood to Create a Lap Joint

  1. Use a chisel and mallet to remove the wooden piece by gently tapping the chisel along the line that was previously marked out.
  2. File using a flat file the edge of the wood to try to ensure that it is a even cut.

Step 4: Glue the Lap Joint Together

  1. Spread PVA wood glue along the line of cut.
  2. Clamp the wood at right angles and leave to dry.

Step 5: Tip for Corrections

If when you cut the lap joint it wasn't perfectly straight you can cover up the error using wood filler.(We did this step after painting which is why the photos look different to what most people will have created at this stage.)

To make the wood filler:

  1. Get MDF wood shavings and PVA glue.
  2. Mix.
  3. Spread over the gaps and remove excess to get a good finish.

Step 6: Laser Cut Two Skylines

For this use any recognisable skyline. We used New York and Paris.


  1. Import the silhouette into 2D design.
  2. Contour the photo to get an outline. To do this go to bitmaps then select contour bitmap on the dropdown menu and change the contour spacing to 0.0mm.
  3. Delete the photograph and you are left with an outline.
  4. Export as a DXF.
  5. Import the DXF into laser cad.
  6. Size the outline to so it will fit horizontally on the book ends (ours were 100mm).
  7. Laser cut in black acrylic.

Step 7: Paint the Book Ends

We chose to paint out bookends black for maximum silhouette impact of the city as well as continuing the sunset/daytime painting on the vertical edge of the bookend. You don't have to do this but it helps increase the aesthetics of the end product. You could paint the whole project black or just leave it as it is as well.

  1. Smooth off the edges of MDF using wet and dry paper.
  2. Use the black acrylic paint and a paint brush to paint the outer edges black. Don't paint the inner part of the book end.


  • We used tape to ensure a clean cut edge.
  • If you continuously alternate brush direction then the brush strokes become less visible therefore creating a smoother, better finish.

Step 8: Paint the Skyline Onto a Laser Cut Rectangle

First laser cut the rectangle so it fits onto the back of the book end.

  1. Measure the book end to collect the dimensions. Ours was 130mm x 120mm.
  2. Draw the rectangle on 2D design and again export it as a DXF.
  3. Import it into the laser cutter.
  4. Cut onto 3mm MDF using the laser cutter.

Paint the squares

We painted one square as a sunset and another as the morning sky. We did this using acrylic paints. The sunset was made using shades of red, orange and yellow. The morning sky was made using shades of blue and green. I have included the process of the painting in the photos so you can see the image develop.

Step 9: Laser Engrave the Paintings

This is the same process as when you cut the city skyline silhouettes. We laser engraved the New York tube map and the Paris road map.


  1. Choose a photo of the roads or train lines for your chosen city.
  2. Contour the photo in 2D design.
  3. Resize the photo to fit onto the painted landscape. We used 120mm x 130mm.
  4. Export as a DXF.
  5. Import the DXF into Laser cad.
  6. Laser cut onto the painted backgrounds.

Laser Cutter Powers

We had to use different powers for our laser engraving as the new York skyline when laser cut burnt visibly so we reduced the power to ensure it didn't burn.

For New York tube map:

  • Power 10%
  • Speed 100

For the Paris road map:

  • Power 45%
  • Speed 100

Step 10: Assemble the Book End

  1. Glue using PVA glue the painted backdrop with map engravings onto the book end, carefully place into a clamp, tighten and leave to dry.
  2. Glue the laser cut skyline onto the front of the book end using epoxy resin, carefully clamp and leave to dry.

Admire your now completed, map engraved book end!

Maps Challenge

Participated in the
Maps Challenge