Introduction: MDF/Acrylic/Cardboard Deer Head Taxidermy

Picture of MDF/Acrylic/Cardboard Deer Head Taxidermy

My friend showed me a website selling cardboard deer heads for quite a lot of money and challenged me to make a simple mini version. So here it is. I've attached a DXF file and PDF file(thanks to Pat for the initial PDF, made my life alot easier) so if you have access to a laser cutter this instructable will be a piece of cake. Other wise you will need to get busy with a coping saw or scroll saw. As you can see the MDF I used wasn't a great choice for laser cutting as it wasn't manufactured using water based resin making it a bit smokey when cutting and it left a lot of residue on the surface (more than usual).

Please note the DXF file was drawn in metric units so when importing in make sure you select that option or else you will need to rescale the design later.

Step 1: Get Cutting

Picture of Get Cutting

Depending on your cutting method select the correct file for your needs and get cutting. Remember to simply paste on the template/laser cut the head as the design is if you are using 4mm material. You will need to make adjustments if the material thickness you wish to use does not match this. If you do the math correctly you could just simply scale the whole design up or down to suit your material or just tweak the slots width in CAD (for laser cutting) or with a pencil if you use the template method.

When cutting things like this by hand I like to leave the slot cutting until  last as I feel it gives a better finish and is a little easier. Doing it this way also means you could use a different saw for the slots (one designed for cutting straighter lines such as a band saw).

Step 2: Assemble Your Head

Picture of Assemble Your Head

Hopefully this should be pretty straight forward.

Start by gluing the back of the deer to its mount.

Then using a small amount of glue slot the head profiles into place. Have a piece of glass paper handy when assembling in case you need to fine tune any of the slots to fit.

Identify the largest body piece and starting from the back work your way to the front of the deer head inserting each piece (you will notice each piece is smaller than the last). You may wish to apply some glue to these but if they fit snug its not all that important.

Finally add a small amount of glue to the antlers and slot them into place.

Step 3: Hanging Your Head

Picture of Hanging Your Head

The hole at the back should simply hook over a screw or nail.

Even though I like my deer head untreated I have seen some of the cardboard ones painted and they do look pretty good so ill leave that one up to you if you decide to make one :)


MrF_DT_teacher (author)2014-12-03

Please note guys that I haven't got the DXF file any longer due to selling my old Mac then foolishly backing up my files onto a NAS drive that I can no longer access. I'll be redrawing the deer head soon in a different style so if you want this one check out the PDF conversion in the comments. You will be able to extract the vectors from that if you have CorelDraw, illustrator or some other similar vector based program.

MarieT44 (author)2017-11-09


I would have well voullu to realize your deer but I do not arrive has to find your DXF

Koki00 made it! (author)2015-10-28

Attached are the DXF and PDF files for a Rhino Head!

AbhishekM107 (author)Koki002016-09-29

give me lion head dxf file

Pat Chouli (author)2011-07-13

I converted to PDF for folks... hope that is OK.

mariem amara (author)Pat Chouli2015-12-21


cesar20 (author)Pat Chouli2013-10-14

Thank you very much!!
I couldn't even find the other file.

Chirpoff (author)Pat Chouli2011-07-15

Sweetness! Thanks, PC! I'm going to save this so that... maybe... sometime in the future, I, too, can make one! :)

That's super thanks :) didn't get round to doing it today at work. Hope you make one

MrF_DT_teacher (author)2015-10-28

Thanks for sharing koki00! You are going to make a lot of people very happy. I would use your shield instead of mine also. I didn't really look at shield shapes when I drew mine and yours looks more like it should

JessieS3 (author)2015-08-05

Does anyone know if there are other templates available for other animals like you see on the cardboard safari website? My living room is Africa themed and I'd love to add a rhino, elephant and/or giraffe...anything from that continent really! Or ideas on how to accurately create my own design? I've mostly got corel and am working with a laser, so I haven't used much 3D software, so just trying to wrap my brain around starting from scratch.

LauraS9 (author)2015-05-06

Has anyone got the DXF file for this? It looks amazing!

cmcmullen2 (author)2015-04-20

I can't find the file where is it

william.nehoff (author)2015-03-29

Hey might be a stupid question but how do i actually access the pdf? It just comes up as a image? Thanks :)

Hi William, you will need a program like CorelDraw or illustrator. If you click file>open in that program and open the PDF that way it should work. Usually you computer will default to acrobat when you simply double click on it. Some programs may need you to import or "place" the PDF but that's the way I do it.

max.vanmanen made it! (author)2014-12-14

I also made a deer head using and adjusting your PDF-template. I used 3 mm plywood and I cut it with a laser cutter. I decided to make a different shield, because I didn't really like the one you used. I'm very pleased with the result (and my mom too, since it's a present for her).

shanna6675 (author)2014-12-02

P.S. I blew the template up so it actually measures approximately 15" high by about 12.5" wide.

Oh Wow!!!!!! that looks incredible!!!!! Dremel tools are soooooo handy!!! I'm always using mine. Funnily enough I was planning on doing an Rhino and elephant. I'm a little busy at the moment but I'm sure I have a half started CAD file for the Rhino somewhere if you have the software to play with it?

shanna6675 (author)2014-12-02

I made this little cutie out of plywood for my husband for our anniversary & he LOVED it!! This is one of the neatest projects I've completed since buying my little Dremel Moto-saw, & I'm planning on making a few more to give as Christmas gifts this year. I would really like to make my daughter an elephant head, but I can't find any templates that are similar to this one. Any suggestions??? Thanks!!

libbamanibba (author)2013-12-16

Looks fantastic! Would it be possible to get the DXF file? Would make a rad Christmas present.

nikiley (author)2011-12-07

I MADE ONE!!! I increased the template 400% and made it out of foam core board. Here's a link if you want to check it out!


MrF_DT_teacher (author)nikiley2011-12-08

That looks sooooooo good!!!!!! love it!

P.S. thanks for linking it here :)

HeatherWeavie (author)2011-11-15

To solve the smokey residue near the cuts on the surface of the MDF you can cover the front and back of the areas being cut with masking tape. After its cut you can just peel off the tape and the MDF will be all nice and clean. We do that all the time in my architecture studio.

Great tip. We actually use the transfer paper you buy to apply vinyl graphics which also seems to work great. Didn't think to mention it :)

Chirpoff (author)2011-07-15

I considered drawing these out and cutting them out with scissors when I first saw these several months ago, but then I realized it would destroy my scissors. heh! I don't have a laser cutter, so I try to limit my cardboard cutting as much a possible! :) Cool job on this!

MrF_DT_teacher (author)Chirpoff2011-07-15

A craft knife works great On card

Chirpoff (author)MrF_DT_teacher2011-07-15

I have some X-Actos, but don't those dull easily also?

MrF_DT_teacher (author)Chirpoff2011-07-16

Funnily enough I used to be a Packaging designer out of corrugated cardboard. We always used scalpels when cutting. The blades did need to be changed but the key to cutting corrugated when working in details is light pressure so you can create smooth curves etc Easily. Then simply make the cut in serval passes. When you get more confident you can apply more pressure and go through in fewer or even one pass :)

Chirpoff (author)MrF_DT_teacher2011-07-17

Cool! I'll keep that in mind! Thanks for the tips! :)

snideprime (author)2011-07-13

Templates would be nice - instead of whatever that coded file is for - or is there a way to convert the file to a picture/plan?

Check out pats comment he did it for me. The DXF file format is an export file format that most CAD packages can read making it the perfect format to transfer between different systems. If you dont do CAD you wouldn't know that sorry for the confusion

Got it! Thanks, Pat. Actually I did CAD in college (BS in Art and Industrial Tech, minors in Drafting, Electronics, Sociology) but not since. I'm not familiar with the DXF format, maybe it's newer than when I had Autocad (it's been a few years)

I was debating breaking the templates up so that they fit onto a4 sheets if anyone wants that I'll sort it out. You may have used DWG files or EPS. They are all very much the same it's just the DXF format is more towards structural CAD as opposed to EPS which you see in graphics alot

MrF_DT_teacher (author)2011-07-14

Thanks guys hope to see some pictures then :)

splazem (author)2011-07-14

Wow, amazing!

jaymebuck (author)2011-07-14

That looks awesome.

sunshiine (author)2011-07-13

You did a fantastic job! Thanks for sharing your hard work!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a teacher of Design and Technology currently working in secondary education. I started off studying electronics and ended up working as a packaging ... More »
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