For my Upcycle project, I recreated the board layout used for the board game SORRY. This idea came about because I like the idea of converting scrap wood from a previous project into something useful. It sucks when you can’t use small sections after cutting up the main piece! Additionally, I have an Uncle who actually does a lot of upcycling by turning trash or various simple objects into tools, games, or even things which he sells as decorations.
Initially, I was thinking about turning scrap wood into a nice walking/hiking stick, but then I changed my mind when I started wondering about fabrication. Upon thinking about the laser cutters in the ITLL, I decided that I wanted to involve some wood engraving with those machines.
Why? Because I greatly enjoy the aesthetic of wood carvings and engraving! I find these types of work pleasing and easy to appreciate. With this decision made, next came the choice about how to redesign the board.
My aesthetic vision for this product was ultimately twofold: I wanted it to look very clean and rustic, and for the new spin on the board to reignite an interest in this game. Initially, my idea started out as applying the aesthetic of “nature” to the board. This could have looked really nice because the tall towers could have been turned into trees with cool root systems and…that is where I stopped with the nature design because a bigger and better theme popped into my head. SPACE. Here are some great pictures that portray space and that I knew I immediately wanted to use:
These are ideal space pictures in my mind! Personally, I define this specific space aesthetic as “childhood space imagination”. When I was a child, these rockets and spaceships are the first images that came to mind when presented with the idea of outer space.
Before jumping onto the laser cutter, it was necessary to start my virtual design…Oooof! What a time suck this has been! Fun, but quite time consuming to practice with SolidWorks and CorelDraw (which is the program that talks to the laser cutters).
Here is an initial view of the virtual board as I was beginning iterative improvements:
Iteration and testing were the names of the game for me in order to complete a product that I am actually quite happy with. There was not a chance in the world that this project would have been completed in high quality through a linear design process. Once my ideas about the board were flushed out and the virtual design was started, I relied on test cuts to refine my design and help with my knowledge about the process. There were even a few times when I went back to the very beginning to think about the basic SORRY layout. After the first two tests I actually started the SolidWorks design over again entirely from scratch in order to improve its usability!
The two pictures to the right show my first wood piece in a laser cutter and ready for the first test cut, along with the result:
What did I learn from this first cut?
- The final board will look sweet with all the engraving J
- 50/50 power/speed settings look good, but did make the board slightly sticky and there was noticeable burning around the start.
- Change the windows of the rocket, and make the flames of the rocket longer to allow for room for the (eventual) pegs
- Expand the star on top to allow for room for the (eventual) pegs, and reduce the size of its engraved line (reduce the burning)
Next Test: Decide on pegs that are small and won’t ruin the aesthetic of the board.
Solution: Lego axles with 3/16″ holes (first tried the next smallest drill size and it was too tight)
After this was the next laser cutter test, including changes made to the design!
The small circles left (above) were the initial peg-locations which were unfortunately going to require separate drilling (because the ITLL laser cutters aren’t used for cutting through wood).
One of the next steps to finish after this point was to prepare my final piece of wood – this actually entails a cool note. Thanks to my blog update, I got advice from a friend about making my fabrication easier! I was informed about the laser cutter in the BTU Lab on campus likely being able to cut through wood. I looked into this more and unfortunately this machine was unavailable, but I was still in the mind set of using a laser cutter to cut all of the peg holes – did NOT want to hand drill them all. This led to two things, I reduced the number of peg holes to the correct # (originally there were more holes because of my family’s rules), and found a large piece of balsa wood to use instead of the particle board that I found first. I checked with the ITLL, and was allowed to attempt cuts through this softer wood as long as I did extra cleaning steps. I used a 3rd test cut to prepare the machine settings for this different wood.
My virtual design also had to be finalized by deciding on the remaining decals/images and their placement. My test cuts definitely helped with the iteration of these placements and sizing. For the remaining decals, I created shooting star and flying rocket outlines. They came out better than I expected!
Here’s the final board design:
Here is the final board both in the laser cutter, and fresh out of it:
My last task was to decide on a way to differentiate between playing pieces. At first I thought that I would have to resort to paint or construction paper, but then I found the perfect solution: heat shrink tubing. Now these pegs fit perfectly in the board – they aren’t too tight and aren’t loose.
In the end, I definitely have to say that my main challenge was the virtual board design. It was pretty time intensive to figure out how to do this process, but now looking back, if I have the chance (or excuse) to do this again it will go much faster now that I am familiar with it.
My two big takeaways from the project are that I am happy with the end result and believe that this is a great way to give old wood a unique purpose. The quality that resulted makes me glad that this board with be a family gift to mom soon because she loves the game, and the chosen space aesthetic worked out well with how it can be used to represent every aspect of the game! I can’t wait to play this with my family since it turned out so well and functions exactly as it needs to.
Things I will do differently when I do this type of work again are to be more familiar with the game beforehand to improve the designing time-frame, and look into stains/varnishes to protect the board and enhance its longevity!