How to Create a Wood Transfer in 6 Easy Steps

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Last Updated on January 8, 2020 by Katherine

Wood transfer pinterest image

I wanted to try something unique for an upcoming family event. My parents are celebrating 40 years of marriage in June this year, so I thought about creating a cute little centerpiece for them. This project is great because you won’t have to ruin any old photos. If you don’t have a digital copy, you just have to scan the image you want so you can print it on your transfer paper.

To get started with a wood transfer, you don't need a lot of things, just a few!

Things You Will Need:

  • A Wood Piece (I bought mine at Walmart, but the Dollar store is another good source)
  • Sandpaper (60 or 80 grit)
  • Photograph (A digital version or the ability to scan and print a picture)
  • Ink Jet Printer
  • Wax Paper or transparency paper if you have it.
  • Credit Card or something similar (I had an old loyalty card from a defunct store that worked)
  • Wood Sealer (I like Rust-o-leum’s Painter’s Touch Matte Clear)

1. Preparing the Wood

You’re going to want to “rough” up the surface of your wood. Begin to sand against the grain, creating a rough surface that will allow the ink to adhere for your wood transfer.

2. Preparing Your “Paper”

Next, you’ll want to measure out a precise 8 ½ by 11 sheet on your wax paper (this is where transparency paper might be more comfortable as it’s pre-measured). Just be sure to measure evenly so the paper won’t jam in your printer. I recommend having a few sheets ready to go in case you need a few tries.

3. Pick Your Photo

The original photo, my parents in their youth!

Or you can do another image if you prefer. I this case, I’m putting together this project as an anniversary gift for my parents, so I’m going to use one of their old photographs. As my parents married long before the digital age, I’m using some photo software to scan the photo in so I can then print it (I like Photo Editor – available in the google play store).

Note: If you have writing on your photo or don’t want a “mirror image” you will want to flip the picture before printing.

4. Print Your Photo

Taking your created or ready-made wax sheet (As a precaution, I cut out five sheets for my use) or transfer sheet, you’ll want to feed that into the printer. My phone can connect to my printer, so rather than switch between my laptop and my phone, I’m just going to use the phone.

If you need something stronger than wax sheets, you can do freezer paper and print it onto the “shiny” side. I had some extra backing sheets from label stickers, so I used those (I like this option as you don’t have to cut them down to size).

Once the printer sheet exits the printer, be careful not to let it curl up on itself and don’t touch the ink!

5. The Wood Transfer (Or the Main Event)

Once you have your image printed on the transfer paper, you just stick it down and hold firmly for a few moments!

Now that your photo is on the wax sheet, you’ll want to stick that down onto the surface you want the image to appear on. Do it once and do not try to reposition the paper as you smooth it down with your credit card for smoothing it down.

If the results aren’t exactly as you hoped, you can sand off the mistake and try again.

Your result is a “dyed” wood piece as the ink should seep into the wood grains.

6. Finishing Up

finish off your wood transfer with a nice clear coating to seal in that ink!

Allow the ink to dry (as I live in bug country, I put a plastic container over the piece to keep creepy crawlies from ruining my wood transfer (you can read about my adventures with flies and resin on my earlier post here).

Once your ink is dry (I let mine go about 20 minutes, it dries pretty quick), spray on a clear coat to seal it in (I choose a matte finish, but you can find glossy sprays available at stores like Walmart or a hardware store).

Conclusion – A wood transfer is an easy and fun project!

I enjoyed this project, it was easy, and the result was excellent. I’m told a laser jet project creates a clearer image, so if you have access to a laser jet you may wish to consider that (you can read all about how to do that from The Digital Photography School). Otherwise, an inkjet transfer works just fine, provided you are happy with losing a little bit of detail.

I hope this article inspires you, if it does, let me know in the comments down below. You can also use one of the share buttons to your right to share this content with your network or pin this content to Pinterest!

Wood transfer pinterest image

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Next week I will be showing you how to craft your very own pair of leather earrings. Until then, stay crafty my friends!

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