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Christmas Projects

Three tiles from a lasercut wood tile set for Settlers of Catan

While not technically my Christmas present, just before Christmas The TechShop was running a Groupon for a month’s membership plus several hours of classes for a reasonable price. Heidi was almost as excited on my behalf as I was so I bought the membership and just before my time off from work began, I took my first class on the laser cutter.

I was hooked. For the next several weeks off work, while there was plenty going on with Christmas (and a visit to Utah and Colorado), when I had time to just sit and do my own thing, I was working on Laser cutter designs. Ultimately, neither of these two projects worked out exactly right, but they were close enough to share.

The first is a set of tiles for the game “Settlers of Catan”. I don’t play the game all that frequently, but it’s a family favorite (you may notice the link to the online version I offer on this server on the right). I thought it would be cool to have a set of tiles cut out of wood so I set out designing them. They turned out pretty well, but I underestimated the time it takes to raster (engrave) the picture, which turned out to be two full hours for a set. So in all honesty, I haven’t ever printed a full set, but will get around to it sooner or later.

The second is a mechanical lock made out of wood plates. Up until I bought my first house, I looked at locks and imagined them as some impossibly intricate mechanism, but when I discovered there was a $10 kit that would let you take apart your door lock and set it up for a different key that illusion was shattered. I’ve thought it would be fun to build a larger one out of wood so that people could see what is going on. Here again, once I saw what the laser cutter could do, I was pretty sure this was the right tool for the job.

Even with the laser cutter, this is no easy project, and I knew it was going to take several iterations. The picture below is from the second prototype. More news to follow on this project.

Prototype 2 of the visual lock. Only one pin plate is mounted.