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Transferring an Image to Wood in 6 Simple Steps

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One of the first grown up crafts I ever did was transferring image to wood. It looked neat, and fairly easy and the idea goes with our decor really well.

Image transferred to wood.

It was one of the few early crafting successes I had, so of course, I stopped doing it. Because it seems like once I master a technique or craft, I let the supplies sit in the bottom of the box and move on to some other project to conquer. The other day, though, my husband and I were talking about our home and the renovations and decorating that needs done and I remembered the wood photo transfer projects I used to do.

My plan now is to make a display around the TV of different mediums and one of them will be a few of my image transfer projects. So far, I’ve only done a few 5X7 and 8X10 size because that’s the largest size my laser printer can print out. But, I’d like to do a few 12X12s and 20X20s to hang up as well. So, I’ll either piece them together with a multi-page poster print out or run way out to the local staples and have them print them out for me (only a couple of dollars).

Like I said, I used to do this a lot. I gave my parents several of these image to wood transfers as a gift for Christmas a few years ago. And they do make a really great, unique gift. So, if you’re in the market for a nice handmade gift, this would be right up that alley. My parents, grandma, and in-laws all have some and love them. They’re lovingly displayed on their mantles and hutches.

These are really fun and don’t take a lot of time or money to make. Nothing completely out of the ordinary to buy. In fact, you can probably find all of your supplies (maybe even a block of wood) at the Target. We like to repurpose things, so we use scrap blocks of wood for ours. But, when I go to make the bigger transfers, I’ll probably go purchase a big block.

How to Transfer a Photo to Wood

Tips to Make Your Photo Transfer turn out phenomenal

  • You cannot use photos printed from an inkjet printer. They have to be printed from a laser printer. We have a laser printer because it’s more cost effective with all the printing I do for homeschooling. But, if you don’t have one, don’t despair. Just use your ink jet to print it out and then run it to a color (or black and white, if that’s more your style) copier and photo copy it.
  • If you have words on your photo, or other things that will make a difference, you need to reverse it before you print it. I made this mistake once. We were in front of the Yellowstone National Park sign and I forgot to flip the image. The result was not so great, so I had to sand it off and start again.
  • Just use regular copy paper to do this project. No photo paper required. In fact, it won’t work if you try to use photo paper.
  • Your photo transfer will probably have a little bit of paper left over once you complete the transfer that will make it appear like it has pulp all over the surface. Take your fingers and rub some old English furniture oil carefully over the image, then seal.
  • Allow the image to dry a minimum of 12 hours before starting the transfer process. The larger the project, the longer it needs to dry.
  • Do not over wet your image, it will rub off and you’ll have to start again.
  • Make sure to use a smooth-ish surface to transfer your image on to.
Image transferred to wood.

How to Transfer an Image to Wood

Easily transfer an image to wood in 6 simple steps



    STEP 1

    Print out (or have it printed out) a copy of your image on regular copy paper. Note it must be printed from a laser printer or it will not turn out.

    STEP 2

    Remove excess paper from the image. I used an x-acto knife to do this and cut around my block of wood.

    STEP 3

    Apply a generous amount of liquitex gel medium to your block of wood in an even manner. I went against the grain of wood, then with the grain of wood. Try to make this even, and generous without adding too much.

    STEP 4

    Carefully place your image onto the block of wood. Smooth out the image and use a knife or some other such thing to smooth out the bubbles. Big bubbles will not transfer to the wood, so get them smoothed out. Allow it to sit.

    STEP 5

    Once the image has completely dried (allow it to sit overnight) it’s time to remove the paper from the image. To do this, you want to add just a tad of water to your fingers and gently begin rubbing the paper off. You don’t want to rub too hard or make the image too wet, or it will rub the image away. You may have to do this a couple of times to remove most of the paper, allowing it to dry in-between.

    STEP 6

    Paint mod podge onto the image to seal it. Sit or hang to display.

You can also rough up the edges a bit with some sand paper, to give it a more distressed look. You can also use a bit of stainer to give it an older appearance, kind of like all of those neat instagram filters we use. Anything you want to do to make it look distressed or different needs done before you seal it, though. So just keep that in mind.

Have fun, start with smaller projects and work your way up to the larger pieces so that you get a feel for what you’re doing and don’t get too frustrated!

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Diane L Poff

Friday 29th of April 2022

Wondering if you could seal it with epoxy/resin??? I love the look of resin.

Danielle McCoy

Tuesday 3rd of May 2022

You could definitely try, I don't see why it wouldn't work.

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