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Settlers of Catan

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Summers Woodworking hosted the 3rd Annual 2×4 Challenge Contest this year, which is basically a challenge to make something out of an 8′ framing 2×4. A number of youtube woodworkers enter the challenge by creatively designing and creating an interesting project with that limitation and each year so far the entries have been impressive. This is the first year I’ve entered, hopefully with an entertaining and fun build for people to enjoy.

In college a friend introduced me to the game Settlers of Catan. It was one of the first euro-style games that became pretty popular in the US and for good reason. It is very well balanced and a style of game which keeps all players engaged from start to finish. My friend and I are competitive to say the least, cut throat and back-stabby might be a better description. My girlfriend at the time (and now wife) at the time often was often manipulated into turning the tide in games where it was coming down to either him or I winning, so she really got tired of playing and since I haven’t played the much at all. But out of respect for the game, I thought it might be fun to enter the 2×4 challenge with a build of the game.

I will cover the hardest technical hurdle to pull off this build: making a satisfactory card for all of the resource cards in the game. I’ve seen others try different ideas, but mostly those involved re-sawing on a bandsaw and winding up with a fairly rigid card. My goal was something closer to a playing card. During April I prototyped the idea with some shavings from the Puzzle Picture Frame panel glue up and eventually moved to pine 2×4.

The first issue that had to be addressed was material. I started with some .001″ shavings of maple. The shavings themselves were curled and ripply, so I used an iron to smooth them out. This worked acceptably well for the most part, but the really thin shavings just did not hold flat very well and the ripple would return with humidity. I adjusted the plane to .005″ and took some shavings off of some scrap 2×4 in the shop. These would start to shatter as I uncurled them which was a show stopper. I then came up with the idea of dampening the wood before ironing it. This worked great as the wood would absorb the water and soften up and allow me to uncurl it before pressing it with an iron. Issue #1 solved.

The shavings themselves were not sufficiently stable to use for cards and could break or chip easily. Laminating up the now ironed shavings was the next tricky aspect to address.

I thinned out some wood glue and brushed it on to each side of a shaving and offset the joints to make a 2 layer sheet of shavings. I spread this sheet out between a top and bottom layer of wax paper and pressed it between two sheets of glass. The glass itself was about 5/8″ thick and over a foot wide and even longer. Not sure how long the setup should cure, I left it for two days. After two days the shavings were still damp and the glue had not cured. I took the top layer of wax paper off to allow it air to dry. Once it was dry the shavings were as stuck to the wax paper as they were themselves. Not going to work.

Another iteration was attempted with a heavy cut of shellac. This also proved a failure when pressed between the sheets of glass as the shellac would not cure. When removing the weight of glass and the top sheet of wax paper the sheet of shaving did cure. However without being pressed together the shavings curled at the edges and did not bind between the upper and lower strips. All I got out of it were some shavings with shellac. This was attempted again with lacquer with similar results. Lesson: finishes are not glue.

A final attempt before looking at an epoxy, I stumbled upon contact cement. Interestingly you need to provide your birthday when purchasing contact cement. I’ve not been carded more for buying contact cement than alcohol. A thin film of contact cement was applied to a single side of a shaving. Then each shaving was lined up next to each other with a slight overlap. A top layer was then laid out on top of the previous with a thin layer of contact cement. Then the wax paper and glass treatment. I left it to cure overnight and in the morning we had success. The edges of the sheet was frayed, but the over all integrity of the sheets were sufficient for card stock. Due to the overlapping at the seems a quick sanding knocked those down into a serviceable surface to be able to do laser toner transfers.

Much of the rest of the project was fairly straight forward to accomplish and is covered in the video. A fair bit of it is just standard woodworking with a the usual challenges. The dyeing of the components is something featured in the Puzzle Piece Frames video with a slight variation. And the making of the dice is covered also in this video with the making of the pips perhaps one of the most fun parts of the build.

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1 thought on “Settlers of Catan

  1. Hi! I’m an editor for and am writing to request permission to use a photo from your settlers of catan game (
    We hope to feature this in an upcoming round up of ours about building with 2×4’s and structural lumber. We would include a backlink and clear credit to you via the name of your blog.

    Additionally, we routinely publish round-up style posts on our site and if you’re willing to allow us to use one photo from other posts you’ve done, we would love to add you to our directory of sites to feature. As a bonus, your site would then be on our radar for possible Facebook shares as well.

    Please let me know if this is satisfactory. Thanks for your consideration!

    Kimberly Mueller

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