Laser Cut Matching Game

Use your drawing skills to create your own wooden tiles for a custom laser cut matching game!

laser cut matching game with painted wooden tiles, paint palette, brush, and supplies

Setup and Supplies

Using a laser cutter to make your own game sounds like a lot of work, but you can simply use your drawing skills and a few digital tools to get started.

laser cut matching game project materials sitting on laser cutter - wood, paint, paintbrush, and watercup

Build time:

Approximately 1 – 1.5 hours

Skills needed:

  • Basic computer skills, *adult required for laser cutter operation*

Tools:

  • Computer
  • Vector Drawing Software
  • 1⁄8” Plywood
  • Access to a Laser Cutter
  • Watercolor Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Water

Recommended Software:


How to Make a Laser Cut Matching Game

youth working in inkscape to prepare laser cut matching game

Step 1: Download the Template

Download this template and open it inside a vector drawing software such as Inkscape.

Template: Matching Game Tiles

laser cut matching game step 2 - drawing shapes into inkscape template

Step 2: Draw Your Designs

Using the Pencil tool in your vector drawing software, draw simple shapes into each box of the template.

laser cut matching game step 3 inkscape fill and stroke settings

Step 3: Set the Fill and Stroke Style

These settings may vary depending on what software you are using. In Inkscape, navigate from the top menu bar to Object­> Fill and Stroke which will bring up the fill and stroke settings box. Navigate to the Fill tab, set the fill of your object to none. In the Stroke Paint tab, select flat color. Finally, in the Stroke Style tab, set the width to 15px.

laser cut matching game step 4 inkscape transforming drawings to paths

Step 4: Transform Your Drawings Into Paths

In order for the laser cutter to properly understand how you want your drawings to look, we need to change our strokes into paths. In order to do this select your design using the selector tool and complete the following:

  • Navigate from the top menu to Path ­> Stroke to Path.
  • Navigate from the top menu to Path ­> Break Apart.

laser cut matching game step 5 using inkscape to transform object to paths, part 2

Step 5: Transform Your Drawings Into Paths (Continued)

In instances where your drawing includes a closed shape, your design may turn all one color. This is because the inside negative space has now been turned into its own path. In order to restore your original design, we need to reset the fill of this negative space to white. To do this, select your inside shape, and click on the white box from the color bar at the bottom of the program.

laser cut matching game step 6 downloading DXF file in inkscape

Step 6: Download DXF

If your drawing looks good, go to File­> Save As­> and select DXF as your file type.

laser cut matching game step 7 change dxf settings

Step 7: Change Your DXF Settings

Use the following settings to save your DXF file:

  • Base unit: pt
  • Character encoding: Latin 1
  • Layer export selection: All

laser cut matching game step 8 laser cut tiles

Step 8: Laser Cut Your Tiles

Laser cutters and the programs that run them can vary. Send your DXF file to the laser cutter operator (an adult) and have them look it over to be sure it is in good working order to run on 1⁄8” plywood.

**Note: We recommend having an adult handle the laser cutting steps, especially with younger Makers.**

Laser Cutter Settings

When you send the file to the laser cutter, these are settings you will need to send along with it.

  • The template of boxes will be set to cut (red outline)
  • The designs inside these boxes will be set to engrave (green outline)
  • The file in its entirety will need to be executed twice in order to create pairs of each tile

 

laser cut matching game step 10 pile of wooden laser cut tiles prepared for painting

Step 10: Prepare Your Tiles For Painting

Be sure to clean up your tiles and take away any unnecessary wood pieces surrounding your tiles in preparation for painting them. You may also need to sand down any rough edges you find.

laser cut matching game finished game with painted wooden laser cut tiles

Step 11: Paint Your Tiles and Play Your Game

To add a level of polish to your game tiles, use your water color paints to easily add color and interest to your tiles.

Once the paint is dry, find a friend and try out your new matching game you made!


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