A couple months ago, I was on the internet and ran across Below The Boat, a website that sells wooden topographical maps of interesting lakefloors and seafloors around the world. Now, something you should know about me is that my family loves maps. My parents have nautical charts up on the walls in several rooms of the house, whenever I move states I get fold-out roadmaps of that state as gifts, and the first thing I got for my new apartment out of college was a big 5-foot map of the world to hang above my desk. So as you can imagine, when I ran across this idea I immediately decided that I had to make one. Christmas was coming up, so what better than to make my family a map of our hometown of Portland, ME?
I drew inspiration from Below the Boat (which shows the shape of the seafloor with flat land), this reddit post (which showed the shape of the land with flat water), and this beautiful table. With the idea in mind, I set off down a rabbit hole of cartography websites to figure out how the hell I was going to do this.
The design and build process that I came up with are too long to throw into one post, so I broke them out into a separate two post how-to guide. These should give you enough detail and direction to be able to make your own if you want to.
In the end, I’m incredibly happy with how it turned out, and the family loved it! Here are some more pics of the finished product. Click on them to enlarge.
And as a side note, if anyone has a laser cutter they’re not using any more and that they’d be willing to part with for ≤$2k, I’m looking for one! I promise to do cool stuff with it.
Update: Wow, after an overwhelmingly positive response on reddit, I’ve decided to spin this up into a side business doing custom maps on commission. It will take some time to set up, but if you want to hear when launch happens go ahead and throw your email on strataforma.com (my working name for now).