Laser-cut: Cards Against Humanity Box

So it begins

One of the first boxes I thought I’d try was to make a Cards Against Humanity box that would fit all the cards of the core game and all the current and a few future expansions. I recently got access to a laser-cutter and combines with SolidWorks I started to experiment with a design that would meet my requirements of storage needs and have dimensions that wouldmesh well with existing board games so I could reduce clutter while still fitting in cleanly with my current collection.

Laser Cutting: The Learning Curve

Laser cutting can be tricky at first. You really need to play with the machine for a while trying to future out what small variations in settings can do. A bit too slow and you’ll end up making edges that are closer to a charcoal pencil then a clean cut edge. Too slow and you’ll get partial cut through in areas since wood density can changed across a panel. Dimensions also change from machine to machine. The unit I’m using tends to burn a gap around 0.032″ in width (or 0.016″ on each side of the cut line) so I need to oversize parts by .016″ for a tight fit and undersize holes as they will be larger then expected after a pass of the laser. This is called Kerf. Since these parts will be desirable to have the tabs lay flush with the box corners after sanding I will also need to add a bit more to account for sanding away the burnt ends. The best way to understand what your parts will look like and how they will fit is to simply make a simple set of small parts using the same material and do a quick run though your assembly and finishing process to create a solid foundation of knowledge that can by applied to future projects. KEEP A LOG! Referencing past settings and results will save you time and money from wasted materials.

CAH: Raw Lasercut
CAH: Raw Lasercut

Assembly

After a dry fit to assure I remember all the parts and to make sure all the notches and holes were where they were supposed to be (I have failed at that issue on occasion) I’m ready for the final assembly. A series of clamps and a conservative bit of wood glue painted on with a small brush made the flat sheets magically turn into a box. I typically try to use wood glue lightly. Overspill outside of the glued surfaces will be a pain to sand and can soak into wood creating areas where to stain will not bother to penetrate (not an issue here since I was using the spray paint method) so I always keep a damp rag and cotton swabs around to clean inside corners and joints as soon as I have the clamps on. When I got the box glued together I wasn’t a big fan of the notched look for this particular box. I felt a smooth finish would better reflect the look of the core box the game came with. A bit of wood filler and that problem was solved.

CAH with wood filler
CAH with wood filler

Now I couldn’t just leave it looking like I threw oatmeal at the box, time to sand, and sand…and sand….

A power palm sander really helps save your arm from a serious case of Unhappy when you’re just trying to clear away the rough stuff.

CAH Power Sanding
CAH Power Sanding

After the power sanding I would step up from 220-400-800 which gave me a smooth enough finish that I felt was ready for a primer coat of spraypaint.

CAH with wood filler
CAH with wood filler
CAH Sanded
CAH Sanded Smooth

Finish Coats

For this box I thought I’d stick to spray paint in the hopes mimicking the glossy black and white box of the core game. To accomplish this look while avoiding brush lines I selected spraypaint as the go to method. One primer coat and three black coats while a light sand in-between black coats to get a smooth surface. Top it all off with a spray clear coat.

CAH box sanded after first black coat
CAH box sanded after first black coat

One of the most stressful parts of the project was the way I chose to add the logo. The logo is burned into the sides of the box to a depth of about .05″. This is quite a lot to fill. I felt like I would see what white epoxy paint would do. It was no easy task. I first attempting filling a plastic syringe with paint and slowing filling each letter. This method completely lacked the control I was hoping for. I settled on a painfully slow method of adding drops to each letter cut with a toothpick and letting the paint naturally fill the cuts with a little poke support from the toothpick. Mistakes were costly as I had to quickly clean them up or the white would simply not be removed and look horrible. I would then have to use thinner to remove it but of course this also slightly removed the black paint. For the side logo I switched to Acrylic paint which cleaned up much easier but didn’t have the the ability to fill each letter as smoothly and cleanly as I would have really wanted.

CAH Adding logo filler paint
CAH Adding logo filler paint

Since Cards Against Humanity is a inherently offensive game I thought that the box itself should have an element that was equally offensive while also allowing my urge to have everything organized all the time so I had the inside of the box also engraved with clear methods to properly segregate the cards into there  own respective areas.

I give you, my offensive interior!

CAH Offensive Interior
CAH Offensive Interior

Lessons Learned

Dear God!, that clear coat smelled like chemical factory farted for about two weeks. I couldn’t bring the box indoors until the 3rd week because it would become overpowering and nauseating. One thing I’m extra unhappy with is the many hairline scratched the clear coat has received from just stacking a cardboard on it for a few days. I let it sit untouched for 3 weeks and figured it would have full hardened but it seems that the coating wasn’t as hard as I hoped. I suspect that a very fine sandpaper buffing and a new final coat of specifically hard Polyurethane may do the trick. I will have to do some research firs to make sure the two coats play nice with each other as I would be rather upset if I added a coat that caused cracking or pealing in the near future. I have also already looked into better methods of adding inlays to boxes in the traditional style of cutting a shape in a lid then cutting a slightly smaller desired color version of the same thing and nesting them together.

The Final Epic-ness, BEHOLD IT!

CAH_Finished

The gloss black really likes to show off every particle of dust. Think I will do a black for any future boxes to see if it wont look constantly dirty like this one seems to.

Interior

CAH_Interior

Look at all that room. Future expansions boxes, booster packs, a burrito, you name it. Using empty boxes for space filler until I break down and buy another couple of sets on my next trip to Powell’s or my friendly local gaming store.

The Logo

CAH_Logo

So Shiny!

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