One of the boardgames I really enjoy is Caverna: The Cave Farmers. It comes with so many pieces that often we just didn’t pack down the game for a few days. Trying to organise the everything is a challenge. Forget zip bags, the cave tiles doesn’t fit well in them if you want to be able to close the box.
Fortunately the problem have solutions one thanks to the good people over at BoardGameGeek. One of them was a 5mm foam core storage box that I liked. It had solved the layout for efficiently storing all the parts that came with the game.
I modelled the box in SketchUp to ensure that all the pieces fit together.
Some of the tweaks I made from the original layout was to add a small cut-out on the top tray in order to allow for easier grip of the bottom tray’s handles when extracting the trays from the game box. Another detail I added was to engrave symbols of the various pieces to save me from having to figure out what goes where every time.
With the 3D model done I wrote a small script to extract the profiles for the laser to cut. This turned out to work well and I could then arrange them into areas that would fit the bed of the laser cutter.
I imported the model and its scenes into LayOut and set up a PDF with a page per scene, rendering the model in vector mode.
As it would turn out, the grey cardboard I had sourced created too much soot which quickly clouded the laser’s lenses and weakened the beam sufficiently to the point it didn’t cut through the card any more. I ended up abandoning the card before I had cut all the sheets and instead using 4mm birch plywood instead which we had laying around at the maker space. However, this required me to adjust the model for the new thickness. So I wrote another script to aid in some of the work. All these scripts will be available in a new version of my Milling Tools extension for SketchUp. At the time of writing it’s not available yet, but as of version 0.4 it will be. (Stay tuned!) I also ended up making an update to my good old Selection Toys to allow me to select faces that are truly coplanar – useful when editing the tabs.
The tabs turned out to be the most time consuming. But I wasn’t able to find a good solution to quickly let me edit and adjust those. A challenge I left for a later time.
With the pieces ready laid out the material was cut on a Full Spectrum Muse 40w laser cutter.
One of the things I had not taken into consideration when I designed the pieces was how they were going to be assembled. I quickly realised that I needed to follow a particular order for them to slot together. Luckily I dry-tested the assembly before I had applying any glue.
The bottom tray needed these three parts (seen above) to be assembled together and slotted into the floor first due to the U-shaped cuts that intersected the pieces.
The three centred walls also had to be assembled together with the small cross-section wall separately. This was then slotted into place and the outer walls could easily be attached. Some pressure had to be applied to the outer walls while the glue dried in order to ensure proper contact.
Similarly, the top tray needed careful ordering of the assembly. The wall above had to be the first onto the floor. (This floor was warping slightly so I added some weights to the corners in order to ensure the glue got proper contact until the whole tray was assembled. Once all the structure was up it was rigid enough to prevent the warping.
Everything fit snugly into the game box. Though I had to tape the corners of the game box on the inside as the outer paper layer with the graphics was slightly crinkled and would catch when I was extracting the trays.
A couple of things I would reconsider if I were to make another box:
- The space for the vegetables could benefit from being slightly larger. I currently have to carefully stack them in order to preserve space.
- I originally designed it as a cardboard box. Moving to a wooden box I would more attention to ensure the orientation of the grain is the same for all the pieces. These particular birch sheets were rather finely grained so it didn’t matter too much. But you know, details…