After building the diy cnc, I was keen to put it to good use. Strangely in this phase of life, I am most concerned with the practical use of the home-made do it yourself projects than ever before. In this small post, I will share steps to make a DIY keychain from MDF sheets (3mm) and some tips to help you avoid common issues.

I own a jig saw and not capable to make this small 3cm x 2.5cm wide logo from it. This is where CNC comes into play. Logo insignia was extracted and outlined that can be done either in Adobe Illustrator or inkscape. Which was exported as DXF to be converted into G-code via cam software. The endmill I am using is of 3 mm diameter in ER11 collet on a humble 775 motor based spindle.

diy key ring with cnc - making the model

Routing keychain from MDF sheet via cnc

First was to cut out the part from MDF sheet. Sides can look disappointing when fresh out of cnc, but they are like wood feather and you can easily get sharp edge by sanding lightly. I was using a spare sheet from past projects, thus the black color.

mdf keychain with diy cnc 2
initial keychain cutout of mdf with light sanding on edges

How to paint and strengthen MDF sheet ?

MDF is very porous material and can act as a sponge, absorbing humidity from environment or making it very hard to get smooth finish from paint. Living near the sea it can get very humid here in Pakistan.

One more issue with MDF is, it’s not very strong from side, and layers can peel off in regular use (the bare mdf sheet without lamination). Since this key ring will be used on daily basis, it is important for it to be sturdy.

The question is how to paint MDF and strengthen it?.

German white glue / woodworking glue, I have applied a coat of white glue, and sanded that with 220 grit sandpaper twice to make sure its even all over the surface. This will also give a nice surface finish in the end.

mdf keychain with diy cnc 1 - german glue coating

In painting, its ideal to spray multiple thin coats than one thick coat. I used blue spray can as it was available and spray is quick to dry compared to synthetic paint. After 2 coats, the keychain was already looking smooth to touch.

mdf keychain with diy cnc painting mdf sheet

For the final and glossy look, keyring was sprayed with clear lacquer spray and placed in sun for quick dry. Placing in sun also removes the odor of lacquer quickly (it can be pungent and irritating).

This is the final look of DIY keychain from MDF sheet.

diy key ring with cnc - final result 1

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