For this project I used a laser cnc I bought off Amazon and a 2300mW laser.
I ran into issues and had to get a different motherboard for it but other then that its been a solid unit.
Remember to use the safety glasses otherwise you will have to use it for your remaining good eye.
The safety glasses that come are not really enough for full protection so keep that in mind when watching it cut.
Step 1: Find Your Map
I had to search through several sites to find a map that had clean contours.
I finally found https://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/ and used that.
You can search for the area, download the map and it has layers you can turn on and off to show just contours.
After this step, you manually create the contours on individual layers in Inkscape.
Then put them into a single layer and move them around to fill out the page.
Export as a dxf and send to laser.
Step 2: Laser Burn
Remember kids, safety glasses are a must.
I use T2 laser software to burn mine and the support for it is great!
I am using a 2300mW laser at 100 speed and it takes about 3-6 passes to cut all the way through the 1/8" basswood plywood.
Step 3: Sand and Stain
I sanded the top with a 150 grit to clean off smoke stains and prep the surface for stain.
I also flipped the boards to sand the back with 60 grit to finish up any not completely cut through spots on the burn cuts.
I used a waterbased stain, so I could dilute it for some different shades.
You can also let it sit and soak in more or less to help with the effects.
Step 4: Initial Stacks
One thing I learned was that scale might have been a teensy bit off.
So I would maybe rethink wood thickness and project scale to keep it realistic.
Step 5: Finalized Stacks
I removed about 3 or 4 layers, might do 1 more...
I did every 20' contours and -60 thru 260 made for some levels.
But the over all effect is nice and close enough for a first project.
I will do a cedar shadow box with some plexiglass for a cover.