Transfer A Printed Image To Wood

How many of you have given your dad a cheap watch or wallet for fathers day? Well, I have too but this time i wanted to do something different. Sometimes it just means more when you make something instead of buy something. This year I chose to make my dad a nice wood picture. The image I chose was from my wedding as he was my best man.

This project was also made from 2 small pieces of scrap wood. To make a 5×7 picture like mine all you need is 10″ of 1×6 material. There is no telling where this idea originated from. I tried to find the original source to give credit but my searches were unsuccessful. Just note that this transfer method was not thought of by me.

A laser printed image is needed for the transfer. Most of the examples you see on the Internet are black and white but i have read that a color image will transfer as well. Regular, everyday office paper was used. Be sure to flip your image horizontally when you print it or it will be backwards. You also need some gel medium (paint medium in the craft section of your department store). I used fluid medium but all the tutorials online say to use a gel. And finally you need mod podge to seal it. I suppose you could use a spray lacquer or polyurethane but I like the texture that mod podge will give. I ended up top coating the entire project with spray lacquer anyway though.

The actual block of wood can be shaped any way you want. For me I chose to cut a high reveal along the back sides to give it a clean, modern look. I also cut a sliding dove tail for the support leg. This project had to be able to break down as I had to mail it to my dad. Unfortunately, I am in Mississippi and he is in Michigan. I also spray painted the back and leg black.

To summarize real quick, here are the steps for the transfer:

  1. Sand your block of wood to around 220 grit. This will make a cleaner looking transfer.
  2. Apply your gel medium to the wood.
  3. Add your image, face down, to the wood and squeegee out any air bubbles and excess gel medium with a credit card (or equivalent. I believe credit cards are evil. Use your license) and let it dry overnight.
  4. Wet the photo by dipping your hand in water and gently rub the paper off of your block of wood.
  5. After all traces of wood have been removed apply a generous coat of Mod Podge to seal the image. Let it dry until it is no longer tacky.
  6. Apply a spray lacquer or polyurethane if you feel like it is needed.

This was a great little project that anyone can make in a few hours (and letting it dry overnight). The best part is you don’t need any fancy tools to make this project. Heck, you don’t need any tools at all to be honest. You can simply buy a block of wood if you want. I chose to made this project for Fathers Day but you can make this any time of the year. If you decide to make one be sure to let me know. I think this is a great project for anyone and would love to see your creation. Be creative with it. Let your imagination explore.

image transfer to wood

Here is my attempt at an “artsy” style video showing a quick overview of my project:

I recently found an easier way to do this without gel medium.


    • I have no clue actually. I just went to a craft store and asked for a gel medium. He gave me a fluid medium as that’s all they had. It’s for artistic painting so any paint or craft store should have some.

  1. Jay give up on giving credit to someone. I did this in grade school art class with magazine pictures and i’m 57 years old.

  2. I’ve successfully completed one of these, the 1st of five. Come here via youtube for another project and seeing this is going to get me to do another round of pictures.

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