This is how I made my own Settlers of Catan board game.
First I want to point out that I have never seen a Catan board in person. I've seen what I could on the internet and what's here on instructables. In fact, before I built this board I had never played it with a real person before. I first learned how to play on the Settlers of Catan ipod touch app. I enjoyed it enough that I wanted it to play with my family, so I looked into buying it. Being the cheapskate that I am, I couldn't shell out $50 for a boardgame. And that's just the basic Settlers edition. You could well spend $300+ to get all the expansion packs. So I looked around and found what others had done here and on other sites and decided to make my own.
Step 1: Measure Twice, Cut Once. Sand, Sand, Sand.
The first thing I needed to do was figure out the dimensions of a perfect hexagon. After I did that, I made a template out of 1/8" masonite (a.k.a. hardboard, et al.) I used this template as a pattern to cut out the rest of the pieces with my bandsaw so that they all were relatively similar in size. I also used some 3/4" maple board I had laying around to rip road, city and settlement blanks on my table saw. These would later be cut into individual pieces. The cities aren't shown, but they were shaped like a castle; square with four towers at the corners. I did this by cutting 3/4" maple cubes and running them over the router with a 1/2" straight bit from both directions.
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Step 2: Stick and Spray.
Instead of trying to copy the actual Settlers board pieces, I decided to give it a custom look by finding images online to represent mountains, hills, forest, fields, pasture and desert. I then imported them into MS Word and put them in a hexagonal shape. It turns out that it doesn't print to a perfect hexagon, so I made it slightly larger, knowing I would just trim off the excess.
I then used spray adheasive to stick the hex pieces to the back of the printout with the smooth side of the hardboard against the paper, cut out and trimmed to the edge of the board and sprayed it with clear spray paint to seal the top.
I used a similar method for the number tokens, adhearing them to heavy card stock (chipboard), then I cut them out using scissors. I laminated the tokens, but because they were so thick, the lamination didn't seal around the edges, it probably would be better just to laminate the paper only with no cardstock.
I also made the longest road, largest army and resource cost cards in Word, using suitable images I found on the internet and laminated them, as well.
Finally I made harbor cards from an image I got online and laminated them, as well.
Step 3: The Finished Product.
Here's the finished product. I didn't mention that I decided to buy a $7.99 resource/development card set from ebay. I could have made it myself, but for eight bucks, it saved me a lot of headache. I haven't made a thief yet, but we've been using my eight year old son's Indiana Jones Lego Minifig. I think that's appropriate. I also made a couple dice out of maple, drilled the pips and painted and finished them, but my wife doesn't like them because they don't roll in her favor.