Engineer and furniture maker Noah Lorang built an amazing topographic wooden model of the United States - creating every state individually and setting them all to scale. 

The 7-foot-wide, 4-foot-tall, and 3.5-inch-thick map features 15 species of wood: oak (red & white), birch, ash, poplar, walnut, maple, butternut, cherry, cedar, mahogany (African and Honduran), pine, and two mystery woods. Lorang built the entire piece using a homemade CNC router - generating all of the models and CAM programming himself. The project took over 200 hours to complete.

The rendering and programming of the project were difficult. Lorang downloaded GeoTIFF files, which use grayscale values to represent elevation and cover the entire U.S. He then merged the files together using QGIS, creating a single, topographic image of the country. The completed files can be downloaded here.
After a few more complex steps, Lorang was ready to cut the project on his CNC. 
I tried a lot of different fixturing and hold-down methods. For the first fifteen states or so, I screwed into the blank from the underside using a sacrificial piece of wood or plastic, and then clamped that down to the table.
After a few too many parts were ruined due to those screws not being tight enough, or having gone too far into the state and ruining the part and an end mill, I settled on hot glue as the best way to hold down states. High-quality hot glue, liberally applied, held every state rock solid through heavy machining, and it pops right off with a putty knife and a hammer. It tears up the table a little, but it’s sacrificial anyway.


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