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I love maps. There something about being able to look over an entire world, to really see the intricate details, that are just so fascinating to me. One of my favorite things to make are recreations of maps using our laser cutter and some epoxy resin. My favorite subjects are always from the shows and games that I have spent so much time with.
While each map is very different in its own way, the construction is quite similar.
In this Instructable we will go over how I make build my maps. I will not be explaining the process to make files, more the just process of how to construct the maps once they are printed.
Shown here are three different videos of how we made these maps. The Map of Middle Earth and The Witcher videos are traditional videos. The video of Tamriel from the Elder Scrolls goes into more detail about how I make my files.
Below are Amazon Affiliate Links to tools used in this build. Using these links don’t cost you any extra, they just help us feed the cats and leave the lights on:
Used to make the files
- iPad Pro – https://amzn.to/2VkfhQo
- Apple Pencil- https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Ipad app used to draw out my files: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/autodesk-sketchbook…
- Glowforge – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- We used a Glowforge to make our map. If anybody is interested in purchasing a Glowforge you can use our referral code to get: $500 off a pro, $250 off a plus, or $100 off a basic. We’ll get credit too! Use the link below. We love our Glowforge. https://glowforge.us/r/DSKCNJZL
Used to make the Map itself
- MDF Back Panel, 11×14 – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Cherry plywood and Walnut veneers – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Acrylic Sheet – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Artisan Pigments – Mica Powder Ultimate 25 Color Set – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Pinata Color – Alcohol Ink – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Promarine Crystal Clear Table Top Epoxy Resin – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Insta-Cure Gap Filling 2oz Bob Smith Ind. – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- E6000 Glue – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- UV Curing Epoxy Resin Hard – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- UV Lamp – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Sewing Clips – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Fine Tip Paint Markers – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Hot Glue – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
- Hot Glue Gun – https://amzn.to/3a7UVyh
Step 1: Laser Cut the Pieces
There are 4 separate layers to all of the maps I make
- Back 1/8th inch thick MDF Panel
- Main Land Masses Panel with resin safe border made from 1/8th inch thick Plywood
- Acrylic Panel made on 1/8th inch thick Clear Cast Acrylic
- Veneer Border pieces made on 1/32nd inch thick adhesive-backed veneer.
Start by cutting out the pieces using the appropriate settings on your laser cutter. I use Glowforge Proofgrade settings for my materials as they are the machine presets values. Make sure to figure out what settings would work best for your own machine.
Shown is an image of how I set up my files for laser cutting.
Step 2: Assemble and Prep for Resin
- Start by gluing the panel with the Land Masses to the MDF board with E6000 Craft Glue. (photo 1)
- Using sewing clips, hold down the two layers to ensure maximum contact and to maintain alignment.(photo 2)
- Use CA Glue to seal off any areas around the border that the resin will come in contact with. (photo 2)
- This will ensure you will not have leaks when you pour the resin in the “ocean areas”
- Paint the board engraves based on what every preference you have. (photo 3)
- I personally like to paint all the engraves on the Land Masses panel black before removing the masking tape. (photo 4)
- After removing the masking tape, use Paint Pens to paint in all the trees (photo 5)
Step 3: Pour the Epoxy Resin
Put on Gloves! Resin gets messy fast! Work in a clean space and prepare something to use as a dust shield.
- Using Pro-marine Epoxy Resin, pour out two equal parts A and B in two different cups.
- The amount needed will be a best guess. Maps are hard to judge how much resin will be necessary.I try to just eye ball it and have a back up silicone mold available for extra resin.
- Add in the pigment colors into Part A. (photo 1)
- I use a mix of all the blue powders from Artisan Pigment Powder’s as well as blue alcohol ink to round out the ocean blue color.
- Using a Popsicle stick, scrape the resins from the first cup into a new combined cup and mix thoroughly ensuring that the resin is fully mixed.
- Pour mixed resin slowly into the ocean void and with a tool or stick of your choice (I used a tool meant for carving clay) push the resin into every crevasse it needs to be in. (photo 2)
- I have also been using 14gauge 10 ml Syringes to getting into the rivers easier. It causes less mess over time.(photo 3)
- Using a Q-TIP, Clean up any resin that may have dripped on the land masses layer.
- Use a heat gun to pop all bubbles. Check back often for the first 15 minutes and apply heat when necessary.
- DO NOT OVERUSE HEAT, you can overheat the resin and cause extra bubbles.
- Add swirls to the water and cover for 8 hours to make sure no hair or dust gets in the resin. (photo 4)
- If you notice hairs with in the first 2-3 hours of curing, you still have the ability to remove them. Make sure you do with tweezers and hit the area you touched with a heat gun to level the resin back out.
Step 4: Prepare the Acrylic Layer
- Before removing the masking tape from the acrylic panel, paint in all the engraves with white acrylic paint. (photo 1)
- When the paint is dry, remove the masking tape and clean the acrylic with a glass cleaner to remove fingerprints and streaks. (photo 2)
Step 5: Attach the Acrylic Panel
Using UV Resin and sewing clips, let’s attach the sections.
- Put a very small bead of UV resin around the edge of the landmass layer. (photo 1)
- Place the cleaned acrylic panel down onto the resin and use clips to hold everything in place. (photo 2)
- Using a UV Lamp, cure the resin and the two pieces will be attached. (photo 3)
- Remove the clips
Step 6: Prepare the Veneer Layer
- Wipe clean the acrylic panel again to ensure there is no dust.
- Place your Veneer pieces down by removing the sticker back and pressing in place (photo 1)
Step 7: Display Your Work
Add any final pops of color to your veneer layer with paint and show your work off!
Maps are super fun to recreate and the resin oceans really add a special something extra to them!
I encourage everyone to give something like this a try!
Go make something awesome!
When Geeks Craft