My laser-cut topographic maps represent the terrain depicted in a pleasing, decorative and artistic form. Even after the hours spent straining my eyes designing and building a new map, I still can’t help but stop and stare at maps in our own home to learn or see something I hadn’t noticed before.
In addition to the technical data incorporated into my maps including elevations, prominent roads, creeks and rivers, I also add historical or factual information making my maps educational too!
I hope patrons and observers will enjoy gazing at my maps as much as I!
My topographic maps are personally drawn and designed in my home with my CAD (computer-aided design) program. Wood is prepared and treated, then laser-cut, assembled and framed in my work shop. Most of the frames for my flat maps are supplied from various local sources. Materials for the deeper frames required for my 3D maps are sourced from my uncle’s store The Framery and Gallery and assembled by me. It takes untold hours to design a 3D map and two or three days to build.
My laser-cut topographic maps begin as an idea. My wife Wendy and I enjoy kayaking and hiking in the wilderness that West Virginia has to offer. In our short time here, we’ve already hiked miles and kayaked for hours around the New River Gorge and Summersville Lake, hence the subjects of my first two maps.
Once the region to be mapped has been identified, it’s time to sit down at the computer and spend hours drawing and editing the contours that will eventually become the parts of the map. Drawings are also scaled to size depending on the thickness of the wood used to make the map. Prominent rivers and creeks are added along with significant roads, landmarks and interesting/informative text. Finally, it’s all broken down into smaller parts that the laser-cutter can accommodate. The design stage of laser-cut map making is the most tedious and time consuming!
Once all the CAD work is finished, it’s time to hit the work shop! Wood is sanded and stained as necessary to achieve the desired effect on my finished map.
Prepared wood sheets are then loaded into the laser-cutter for the magic to happen! It takes about forty-five minutes to cut one sheet — longer if there is text or other intricate detail work.
The parts begin to pile up, but it all comes together as I assemble them one-by-one.
My 3D maps with stacked contours require a special frame deep enough to handle the thickness of this type of map. Fortunately, my uncle Larry Pettinga owns his own store The Framery and Gallery in Trenton, Michigan where he offers his expertise and supplies me with proper, first-class frames, framing materials and glass.
My laser-cut wood flat topographic maps are as described — maps on a single layer of wood. The river or lake is depicted by colored mat board underneath. In comparison to my 3D/layered topographic maps, the flat maps can be produced faster and use a conventional frame allowing for a lower price point. I can’t figure out why, but in-spite of their simplicity and smaller size, I still find these flat maps just as interesting and as beautiful as the much more complicated 3D maps.
This is a Special Edition of my Summersville Lake flat map; the frame is painted to match the lake. Price: $149.00
My laser-cut wood flat maps of the New River Gorge in the region of the New River Gorge bridge are presently offered in two sizes; this one in a 16” x 20” frame with glass. Each map is different than the previous and no two are alike as I change up river color, font type and art work. This one features a bridge jumper with parachute canopy open. Bridge Day is a once-a-year festival featuring B.A.S.E. jumpers who leap off the bridge, deploy their parachutes, then land in a clearing beside the New River. Price: $129.00
This 16” x 20” flat map of the New River Gorge features art of a B.A.S.E. jumper as viewed from the inner workings of the bridge just before his parachute has deployed. Price: $129.00
My latest New River Gorge flat map features new art work of a kayaker attacking the white water offered in the New River. Price: 129.00
Here’s another view of a Summersville Lake flat map, only with a standard, black frame. Price: $129.00
This edition of my New River Gorge flat map is in an 11” x 14” frame with glass for an even more economical price point. Smaller, but with all the same detail as the larger maps. Price: $90.00
Laser-cut wood 3D topographic maps
My laser-cut wood 3D/layered contour topographic maps are the “granddaddy” of maps. In 22” x 28” frames with glass, these maps feature multiple layers of stacked wood built to a scale that represents the actual elevation contours of the region depicted. Complicated, technical and time-consuming to build, the finished product is a genuine piece of art that will keep you captivated.
My Summersville Lake 3D maps feature the lake, the Gauley River and the Summersville Lake dam that created the lake in a 22” x 28” frame with glass. Price: $500.00
The first of my stacked contour, 3D topographic maps, this one depicts the New River in the region of the New River Gorge. Now on my 5th edition, this map is priced at $500.00.
Here’s the second edition of my Summersville Lake 3D map. For this one I treated all the layers with the same coating for an all-natural appearance to the wood. Price: $500.00.
On The Drawing Board
Designing/drawing a new map is tedious and takes many hours. This takes time away from the work shop where I build maps I’ve already designed, so I have to divide my time carefully. I’ve been able to “sneak away” time drawing this new map of Beckley - my most ambitious one yet! It features twelve layers requiring an even thicker frame! The frame will also be 4” taller and 4” wider than my current 22” x 28” frames.
Shown at left before the addition of streets, landmarks, rivers and creeks.
Here you’ll see a sample of municipality, business, real estate and nature videos I’ve captured and produced.
When you open the video to view, be sure the Quality is set to 1080p (High Definition). Open the Quality menu by clicking on the icon of a gear with “HD” at the bottom of the video. Click “Quality,” then click “1080pHD” to set the video to the highest resolution.
Beaver, West Virginia
This one’s for Dave Sibray at West Virginia Explorer. Visit wvexplorer.com.
Mabscott, West Virginia
New River Tech Expo 2018
34 Kinglet Place V2
1103 Maxwell Hill Road
Alfred Beckley Grist Mill II
Contact me with inquires about custom laser-cut topographic maps, map availability, drone missions or any other questions: