I grew up on the Lower Klamath, and my family and I have fond memories of many of the hidden treasures at the lakes and swimming holes around Siskiyou County. Since my father loves cribbage and his 70th birthday is coming up, I thought a custom crib board was in order. I needed a good excuse to learn Easel with the X-Carve and as a teacher, I’m always piloting new project ideas. Last term we cut topographic lakes into cardboard with the Glowforge laser etcher (in layers), and that project was successful. It made me think about a topo map cut with the CnC instead, and then I settled on a combination.
The X-carve centers off the front left corner of your material, so I was worried about punching the crib peg holes through the laser etch if I didn’t measure accurately.
I used 4 different maps of the Klamath watershed, using readily available resources. I looked for maps that had clear bodies of waters.
I used adobe illustrator cs 6 and placed the maps into different layers and resized them to match each other. I figured a cribbage board shouldn’t be bigger than 11X6 inches or so, so I put them at that size. Then I used image trace and expand, to create paths. Turning off all but one layer at a time, I used a magic wand or just the direct selection tool to isolate the bodies of water I wanted on the map. Then I cut them and put them into a sublayer, and then locked down turned off the original. I did this for each map because text is the nemesis and you have to make judgements between which map is best.
I also traced out some highways, to help people see where the map is. For me it was I-5 and 101 and of course, HWY 96, my neck of the woods. I discovered that it’s helpful to keep your layers organized. I put a layer for lake and river text, one for a compass, one for the highways, and one for the quote text. I played with shading them different tones of grey within Illustrator toward the end, but Those shades didn’t matter when I got to the GF as I had to enter settings and experiment.
Once I had the layers all set in Illustrator, I turned off all the reference layers and locked down the remaining layers of artwork. I found that if you don’t lock them down, when you make an SVG it will be one layer, and then you can’t do individual settings in the laser interface. But if you lock your layers then you get multiple pieces in the web interface. Be careful not to have too many layers because you end up entering the same settings a bunch of times. If I had to redo it, I’d think about layers you want cut deep, versus just etched on the surface. I wanted my lakes and rivers deepest, and water body names to be pretty deep. I was worried the HD Thoreau name would be too intricate and fry but it came out pretty nice.
I went back and forth on the peg paths, and I wish I had put in a little more time making curved groups. I had some at one point, but they got lost in the mix. First, I thought I would use my new knowledge of parameters and constraints in Fusion 360 to create a smooth curvy path. I made 3 1/8 inch circles in a row, and put in a couple of 1/4 lines to keep them spaced apart. Gave Coincident as a constraint, Then I started copying them out. I figured I could put the circles on the far right along the contour of the watershed area and the lines and other circles would come along, perpendicular to the contour line. I imported a contour line for the figure 8 shaped watershed as an svg into Fusion and tried, but I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted. At one point I almost had it, but after I painstakingly placed the groups around, and bent them around as necessary for a couple hours, I wrapped it all around and only ended up with 85 holes. And you need 120. It seemed that the svg perhaps wasn’t 11X9 inside Fusion (weirdly). I started over and was able to confirm that my imported svg was the right size, but then I couldn’t recreate the circles and the constraints right. In retrospect, I should have created two circles in Fusion, overlapped them to make a figure eight, and then put the constraints maybe on my circle groups as a tangent to the circle curve? I don’t know. I didn’t really want a symmetrical peg path, especially since the river roads are so sinuous. I wanted the bends to seem to wrap tightly. And for the life of me I couldn’t ad bezier points into the path inside Fusion like you can in Illustrator.
So I went back into Illustrator, and did the circles all over again. First I tried to create a dashed line of circular dots that were 1/8. My svgs were not uploading to Easel and I read that perhaps the circle function text in the svg could be messed up. I thought maybe making a custom line of dashed dots, and then doing Expand Appearance might get an outline path better than an svg using the circle function. I was grasping. Anyhow both the custom dotted line groups and the circle groups I made in illustrator gave me good svgs so I ended up pitching the custom line files. In fact I had planned on forming the peg path tightly around inside Illustrator, but after I imported the 15-peg grouping alone into Easel, I decided to manipulate the groups of rows (all 15) peg path inside the Easel gui. Yes, I did the peg path an entire third time.
And the third time took a very long time. But it’s the first time I’ve thanked the cloud. Because I didn’t have to stand at the CnC station; I sat at home on a rainy MLK Day and positioned my dots. When I got to the workshop, I was able to update my file. (Later on I didn’t have exactly the same experience with the GF cloud though: I went in and out of the project on the glowforge website at home, and at the classroom, the GF station showed the project, but when you went into it, it was empty. Fortunately it loaded up normally on my laptop and cut fine. Sorry to jump)
I discovered that inside Easel, for each dot (groups of 15), I had two paths: One filled and one unfilled. Probably due to a) inside Illustrator I went Object Expand one too many times or b) when I hit Save As SVG and had Create Outlines selected.
Either way, I had to rearrange and bend my copies of the 15 hole paths around the contours by selecting within the Easel GUI. Which I hope I never ever have to do again. There’s no lasso select, and I didn’t want to budge the hollow paths from the filled paths. I probably should have deleted either all the filled or unfilled and tried a sample cut to establish which ones the X-carve would need. So I’m reading comments…
I got the peg holes the way I wanted them, or at least close… I wanted my cribbage board to end at Shasta Lake.
Note: Ours isn’t actually a GF Pro it’s the Basic.
I saw a glowforge settings google doc that said etch red oak at 425 85 but I did my first cut at 425 full power because ash is harder than oak. Then I did one at 450 (ish) speed-85power and it was too light. If you look at the photos you can see the light one. I maladjusted the artwork. The other one has an edge to show the boundaries of the watershed. I played with settings a few times before putting in the good wood. I ended up putting the compass and the Quote Text with HD Thoreau’s name at a highter lpi, 450, I think. I can post my notes. And you can see some settings in the screenshot. I think I cut most of the water and river/lake text around 425/87 in the end.