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.
Approximately 1 – 1.5 hours
- Basic computer skills, *adult required for laser cutter operation*
- Vector Drawing Software
- 1⁄8” Plywood
- Access to a Laser Cutter
- Watercolor Paint
How to Make a 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
Step 2: Draw your designs
Using the Pencil tool in your vector drawing software, draw simple shapes into each box of the template.
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. In 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.
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.
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.
Step 6: Download DXF
If your drawing looks good, go to File> Save As> and select DXF as your file type.
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
Step 8: Have your tiles laser cut
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
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.
Step 11: Paint your tiles + 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!