MDF Signs - Profile cuts with multiple layers

A friend of mind asked for my help making up some sings for an event he was working on.
He wanted a website logo made into a sign as well the websites mascots.

The sign I made out of 1/4" MDF, (3) 2’x4’ sheets from Home Depot, and a 1/8" down cut bit.
He original wanted me to do it as a single sheet with just cut lines that he could paint in. (sort of a paint by numbers style) But after looking at the logo I decided to do most of it as multiple elements, profile cut out, painted separately then glued together. I used a 45 deg v bit to cut the smaller groves in the letters.
I used VCarve pro to do the cut file, but easily could have done it in easel.

One trick I used with this was to cut the outline of each object into it’s lower level using a v-bit set to “on-path”. This way I had an easy alignment guide to position them so that everything lined up correctly. (I didn’t think to get a picture of this)

After painting:

The mascots were going outside to help direct traffic so I made one out of MDF and the rest out of some thin plywood I had laying around.

I am very happy with how these turned out.

I did discover that not all plywood is the same.
The first sheet I used I think I got from Michaels and carved wonderfully.
The second one I made out of some thin “underlayment” plywood and it carved terribly. The plywood was bowing badly, enough to dramatically vary the depth of the v-carved details. The veneer tore and the wood chipped when cut. Not a problem as it was being painted, but I won’t be using that plywood again.


I used this same approach to make a “Westworld” logo. (A party decoration for an upcoming event)
Here is the base with the outline cut on it so that I can align the upper layer properly

By doing these as separate elements it cut much faster (profile vs. pocket) and it is much easier to paint

The final sign

This took me an afternoon to layout and cut. The longest part was waiting for the paint to dry overnight before gluing everything together.
It is a joy when everything works out like I want it too. :slight_smile:



Thanks for the info! I had just resigned myself to how MDF looks when painted.
The best I could do was to primer it with super cheep paint to try to seal it a bit before the top coat.
But the Shellac looks like it does a much better job.
If I get the hang of this I will be using MDF in a lot more projects.

If you’re painting something black, use chalkboard paint. It smooths out real nicely.


i can’t wait for next season :slight_smile:

Try rustoleum enamel with a brush. You can get a glass like finish after a few coats.


that sign is the so very well put together… thanks for the inspiration!

I love your double toasted logo sign! Great job. I want to learn to make this type of sign.