How to Image Transfer Onto Wood

Anyone else spend summer checking projects off the to-do list and finding fun crafts to make?

This was a project that I figured out because J had an idea for a gift he wanted to make for a friend’s daughter’s 18th birthday. He wanted a picture frame that had her name and a bunch of adjectives that described her surrounding it like a word cloud (sidenote: isn’t he the kindest, most thoughtful human?). This idea inspired some googling on my end and then the discovery of a super easy craft that ends up looking phenomenal (she loved the gift from J. It was perfect).

So here is how to transfer an image to wood.

What you’ll need:

-An image

-A wooden something that you want your image on (ornament, frame, block, box, etc. etc.)

-Mod Podge

-A paint brush or sponge

First, you need to decide on an image or design that you want. This works with any image, including pictures. For mine, I hopped on Canva to make the images I wanted. If you haven’t used Canva before, you should check it out. I think I paid for it for a couple months last summer, and if you’re doing a lot of designing that would totally be worth it. I’ve gone back to the free version though and that honestly works great for my purposes.

Canva is super easy to use

On Canva, you can make everything from professional looking business cards, instagram posts, Christmas cards, posters, banners, etc. I just opened a blank poster for mine and it worked great. Creating your design is definitely easy with Canva. This is what I came up with (farmhouse enthusiasts, search up shiplap or eucalyptus for some great options).

When you’re done with your image, download it and inverse the photo. There are a lot of tools that work for this and it kind of depends on the programs you have and the type of computer you use. I have a mac so I think I did my flipping right in the finder app. If you aren’t sure of a program to inverse a photo, just google ‘how to inverse an image’ and pick one of the programs that pop up.

With the inversed image, you need to print it from a laser printer. I have a laser printer that prints in only black in white which was kind of a bummer for this project. So I just sent my images to Staples. I’d recommend having the wood project you want to use first so you can make sure you print your image in the correct size. I sent my order to Staples and then found a great wood frame to use so I actually had to enlarge my print while at Staples, but whatever, it worked.

The lady at Staples actually called me when she got my order because she was so concerned the file had gotten messed up. She had to confirm that I wanted something printed backwards. Lol for days.

For wood projects, definitely check out Hobby Lobby. Michaels might have solid options (and they of course offer the 10% teacher discount on everything), but Hobby Lobby has a full aisle of great options. Catch them when they have their 40% off sale. Mine was originally $20 and I got it for $12.

While you’re at Hobby Lobby, grab a jar of Mod Podge. 

The tutorials I researched said to put a layer of mod podge on your wood project. I would actually recommend putting the mod podge directly on the image. Mod Podge dries clear, but on mine, you can see little ridges where the mod podge had clumped up a bit. It works either way, but I think it’s a little neater and cleaner to put the mod podge on the image. You don’t need a super thick layer, but you don’t want it to be too thin. 

Place the image where you want it on your wood. Take a credit card (well, an empty gift card or a card you no longer use lol) and smooth out all the bubbles. If you have bubbles under the paper, the ink won’t transfer onto the wood in that spot.

Then, let your project dry overnight. Tutorials say a minimum of 24 hours, but some say up to 72 hours. I would not recommend waiting a whole 72 hours. I think both of mine that I’ve done were just under 24 hours. It’ll be fine. Once it’s been drying overnight, get a rag or washcloth and get it wet. It doesn’t need to be dripping, but definitely wet. Start rubbing the paper and once the paper is wet, it’ll peel away. If you scrub super hard, you’ll chip away bits of the ink (see the lower right corner of my image…); so just take it easy and peel away the paper. Your image will be left behind.

Super easy, right? 

I loved this project and am excited to see how I can use it again. I’m already picturing wooden ornaments as Christmas presents.

Good luck, let me know how it works out!