Introduction: MAP IT! Do You REALLY Know All 50?

About: Someday, I would like to create something that is so commonly used, it's not even considered genius.

Looking at a map is great when all the streets are marked, rivers are blue, mountain ranges are bold, and freeways span the country. Do you REALLY know all 50 States? This map will light up if you match the state abbreviation with its location to show your wit.

I decided to see how well we know our 50 states. I created this map with just the outline, no rivers, lakes, or mountains.

Then a small twist of just state abbreviations. It seems all fun and games if you travel or live in the area but some people blow it . I made this for my kids, since fourth graders are learning about each state throughout the year I figured this will be a great visual aid and a bit of fun.


Supplies: Some not in Photo

  • Drill
  • Rotary tool
  • Rivet tool
  • Hammer
  • Wire cutter
  • Metal letter punch set
  • Soldering iron/ solder
  • 1/8 drill bit
  • 1/8 carving bit
  • 9v battery or 2 AA
  • 14 ga terminal connectors
  • *300 ohm resistor/ battery choice dependent*
  • LED your color choice (I did clear/white for clean look)
  • 50' 24 ga or telephone type wire
  • 2' 14ga stranded soft wire
  • 50 3/8" pop rivets
  • 50 1" pin nails
  • 3/8" soft copper tubing
  • Pipe cutter tool
  • Wood stain and brush
  • Black spray paint
  • Metal/wood glue adhesive
  • Printed US map outline
  • Safety glasses

Step 1: Scrap Wood and Stencil

Grab a piece of scrap wood that will fit your project. I used some tongue and groove cedar board because it is soft and smells good.

Print about a 8" x 11" map of the US with nice clear lines and big enough to see the east coast states.
(West coast rocks!).

Tack it or tape it down and grab a rotary tool with a small 1/8" bit made for carving then carve away through all the borders.

Step 2: Clean and Stain

Check all your states and touch up any lines that need to be cleaner or deeper to accept stain.

I used a light clear stain that seem to bring out the detail in the lines for the look I wanted.

Stain the entire board for a nice clean look.

Step 3: Stamp Your States

I wanted a bit of classy look so this could sit on a coffee table and not look like to much of an eye sore. It also gives your guest something to do while you mix cocktails.

  • Cut about a 2" copper section and pound flat with a hammer
  • Stamp correct state abbreviation
  • Hit the imprint with a quick shot of black spray paint, let sit for about 60 seconds then wiped it off - this will give the black inlay.
  • Stagger and glue down copper strips with enough room for rivets in the next step.

Step 4: Nail, Drill and Wire

  • With an 1/8" bit drill holes next to the state abbreviation.
  • Cut 24 gage wire to the correct length to reach abbreviation on the correct state location.
  • Strip off 1" on each side of wire and feed through hole.
  • Wrap wire around rivet and push into hole
  • Use rivet gun just enough to make it tight. This wrap and tension is ok for no solder here.

*Pin placement*

  • Use a nice small 1" pin nail that will look good and not cover up the little states.
  • Do one pin at a time or it gets crazy with wiring the correct one on the backside.
  • Wrap pin and solder into place, snip off any extra.
  • See photo of finished backside. (Is this why my cable bill is so expensive?)

Step 5: Power and Wire LED

  • Drill a small hole to fit LED into top location and put into place,a small bit of foil gives it matching trim look.
  • Cut 1' sections of 14 gauge wire, strip and solder small pins on one side to use as probes I cleaned it up with a little bit of heat shrink tubing as an option.
  • LED is wired in with a 9v mainly for size and ease of use, I used a 300 ohm resistor- this is fine for temporary on off light flicker usage, if you use a different LED or power source read up on LEDs for beginners by noahw on instructables.
  • Drill small holes in board and bring 14 ga wires to back side and solder on terminals.
  • Drill small holes again for rivet placement to secure power wires- (low voltage fine in this wood).
  • Trim and fiber board clean up the backside for a final look and easy access to battery.

The probe acts as a switch so connecting the abbreviation to the correct state completes the circuit lighting the LED.

Looks like California works.

Enjoy! Thank you for reading.

Maps Challenge

Participated in the
Maps Challenge