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).
MrF_DT_teacher (author) 9 months ago

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.

JessieS325 days ago

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.

LauraS93 months ago

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

cmcmullen24 months ago

I can't find the file where is it

Hey might be a stupid question but how do i actually access the pdf? It just comes up as a image? Thanks :)
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  william.nehoff5 months ago

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!8 months ago

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).

shanna66759 months ago

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

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MrF_DT_teacher (author)  shanna66759 months ago

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?

shanna66759 months ago

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!!

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Pat Chouli4 years ago
I converted to PDF for folks... hope that is OK.
Thank you very much!!
I couldn't even find the other file.
Sweetness! Thanks, PC! I'm going to save this so that... maybe... sometime in the future, I, too, can make one! :)
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  Pat Chouli4 years ago
That's super thanks :) didn't get round to doing it today at work. Hope you make one
nikiley3 years ago
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!


Photo Dec 7, 2011 8-15 AM.jpg
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  nikiley3 years ago
That looks sooooooo good!!!!!! love it!
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  MrF_DT_teacher3 years ago
P.S. thanks for linking it here :)
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.
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  HeatherWeavie3 years ago
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 :)
Chirpoff4 years ago
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)  Chirpoff4 years ago
A craft knife works great On card
I have some X-Actos, but don't those dull easily also?
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  Chirpoff4 years ago
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 :)
Cool! I'll keep that in mind! Thanks for the tips! :)
snideprime4 years ago
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?
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  snideprime4 years ago
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)
MrF_DT_teacher (author)  snideprime4 years ago
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) 4 years ago
Thanks guys hope to see some pictures then :)
splazem4 years ago
Wow, amazing!
jaymebuck4 years ago
That looks awesome.
sunshiine4 years ago
You did a fantastic job! Thanks for sharing your hard work!