Creating New England’s Monster, in TableTop Form

As an outdoors enthusiast, I’m pretty fond of topographic maps. I can’t explain it, I just like how they look!   A while ago, I came up with a creative technique of translating one of these maps into a 3D model, and produced a map of Mt. Ranier in Washington made of foam, lasercut into the forms of the mountain’s contours. It was a big hit on Reddit, and I always said I would make another one someday. A few weeks ago, with Christmas approaching and my gift wallet full of cobwebs, I decided it was high time to give these another shot. This time, though, I went with a range that is closer to home for me:

I took this photo in March, but snow will last on the summit of Washington well through spring, and even into summer sometimes!

I’ve never fully climbed Mt. Washington, new England’s highest peak and the home of the Highest wind speed recorded by humans…maybe I’m saving it for the right moment. But I’ve been to its summit (and worked on trails up there with the AMC, but that’s another story) and have a great appreciation for how difficult a mountain less than half the height of most of the Rockies can still be.

The last map I created was done out of a bunch of foam sheets, which while being low cost did not go together easily. I decided to work with stained plywood this time, as I imagined the aesthetics would be better. This also allowed me to include an engraving of the various trails and peaks on the map, which satisfies my practical side (what’s a map with no info on it, after all?). Big thanks to Autodesk for making 123D Make free to use, it made the project a bit easier to finish quickly.

It was now time to get cutting, so I fired up The Construct’s Lasercutter and got to work. I also took some time while this was running to prepare the colored stains that I would use, which were created from acrylic paint and water.

The result was…well, it actually turned out really well! Some of the trails and peaks are hard to read, but they can be fixed on the next version. stained plywood looks much better than the gaudy foam, and the “live edges” and legend make it look much more professional. I already want to make more (and I probably will, as long as I have some free time), so if anybody wants one, HMU…

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