Need help with mdf screen design

I don`t mean to be a pain in the back side but can anyone give me any help with designing a mdf screen.

Recently I have been making a lot of radiator covers for people and have being buying the screens in my local hardware store. It costs me €40 for a 610x1830mm screen like this

which is eating away my profits, so I decided to order the XC and try make my own as I can get a sheet of 6mm mdf 1220 x 2440mm for about €4. While waiting for my XC to get delivered I thought I`d have a bash at designing the screen in Illustrator , saving it as an svg and importing it to easel. AI Screen 2

I know the pattern is not the same but I just wanted to see what the cut time would be like for roughly the same amount of holes being cut, The screens I put on my radiator covers are about 550 x 500 mm depending on the size of the radiator. my svg is 550 x 550 .Easel says it will take about 4 hours 30m minutes to cut . Does this look right to you? The settings are the presets for mdf, feed rate = 1016mm/min.
Plunge rate =304.8 mm/min and dept per pass = 1.3mm/min with a 1/8 upcut spiral . My sheet is 6mm , 550 x 550mm

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Thanks guy`s.

With quarter inch MDF, you would be able to go full dept of cut. Router on minimum setting. Keep the same feedrate. With V-Carve, we can “ramp into the cut” which makes it easier on the machine. Not sure if you can do that on Easel. Should be a lot faster for you. Also, you can start with a down cut bit and go 3 mm. Then, switch to an up spiral and cut to 6mm for nice top and bottom finish. If you stick with up spiral, leave your work piece attached to your machine afterward, and shop vac the frillies by scraping your nozzle over the surface. Then, hit it with 100 grit. THEN remove it from your machine.

For lots of these, consider a .25" shank .125" end mill with a maximum length of cut of .25". The less bit length the better and the .25" shank will give you a nice “shoulder” for rigidity and tool life.

Here is a nice 1/8" end mill for a great price with .25" cut:

It has a 1/8" shank, but it’s stub length and shorter spiral will make a big difference for you at full DOC.

Thanks @Earwigger. I’m still only getting to grips with the software end of things. Haven’t got v carve yet😣 . So in theory I cut cut it in a couple of hours? I’m still scrolling through ebay and other sites for cheap bits to practice with so thanks for the heads up.

I might order a few of these tomorrow as most the work I want to do will be with 3 and 6 mm mdf. Thanks for that.

Ideally use the biggest shank and the shortest amount of “spiral” and the shortest OAL overall length as you can get. MDF is very easy to cut. But you’ll have your hands full building your machine first! After you build your machine use ONLY CHEAP BITS, regardless of their dimensions. You will probably break a few. The best way to learn this thing is when production demands you learn it (I learned that the hard way along with great advice from people here a couple years ago). If you get advice here - try to validate their recommendations elsewhere using the search function before breaking even more bits or developing bad habits.

I’ll keep that in mind. Cheers. I think I have that search function wore out lol every time I do a search , it feels like I’m falling down the rabbit hole even further lol

On this I would not do pockets. I would do profile cuts and allow the dust collection system to suck up the little squares. They shouldn’t cause any issue, and the profile cuts will drastically slash your machine time.

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Thanks @RobertBeattie. I’llhave a little thinker with that after work and see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

I played with it a little and the cut times are pretty high, just because there are so many.

If this would be something you do a lot of you can keep tweaking the file to maximize speed. Fine tune your settings for your it and material. Lower clearance height (how high it moves up before going on to the next square) and faster plunge rates with speed this up a lot

Still this is going to be a lot of machine time. So for basic square screens it might not be much of a cost savings once you factor in the cost of your machine time…

However, you have a CNC!
And doing crazy, complex screen shapes… will take about the same effort and amount of cut time. :wink:
It is just a mater of design.

So once you get familiar with your machine and find the best settings, you could start doing custom screens. Adding text or more complex shapes. And charging extra to cover the machine time :wink:

FYI: I do a lot of projects with the thin MDF sheets, which at my local hardware store come in 2ft by 4ft sheets.
I upgraded my XC to 2000 mm by adding a second set of rails to the Y axis - this lets me cut the full 2’x4’ sheets. It makes it so much easier. So if you start doing a lot of this I highly recommend it!
Before I did the mod I would have they store cut down the full 8’x4’ sheets of material for me.
I found that cutting it into (6) 24"x32" sheets worked well.

Also MDF makes a CRAZY about of dust. So duct collection is a must.
The dust is so fine it just blew right through my shop vac. I added a Dust Deputy and it was like magic. I STRONGLY recommend it. (Later on I upgraded to a real dust collector and a larger dust deputy setup.)

Thanks for that.Yeah I know what you mean with the custom designs. Thats the plan for the future. I just have to get to grips with the basics first. Id love to be able to do city skyline silhouettes or crazy geometric patterns and put led lights behind them and up the price but I learned I have to learn to walk before I can run lol.

Id love to be able to get the bigger machine but im pushing it for space as it is with the 1000mm :frowning:

I know what you mean about the dust. My heart does be broke cleaning up after doing rebates and round overs with the trim router and thats with a shop vac ha.I had a good extractor and sold it to make space in the garage but I think Ill have to invest in another…

Thanks for all your feedback, I really appreciate it.


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