Transferring Images to Wood #1: Day One - Prep Work & Stickin It To the Man!

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Blog entry by KnotCurser posted 06-20-2013 11:28 PM 7188 reads 50 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Transferring Images to Wood series Part 2: The Dirty Work & The Big Payoff! »

Due to a recent project I've posted, I have been asked by many LJ’ers to do a blog on just how I was able to get such a clear image fixed onto a piece of oak. Here goes nothing….........

Items Required

An Image (flipped horizontally) printed on a LASER Printer. It can be color or B&W – either work just fine in this application.

Paper – Regular copy paper works just fine. Do NOT use photo paper – it will most certainly not work.

Wood – I prefer a light colored hardwood. White Oak, Birch, Maple or even Poplar works well for this application.

Gel Medium – There are many out there. I happened to find a product by Liquitex called Matte Gel Medium – this 8 oz. container was a tad over $15. I am guessing you will get at least 6 large images out of the container.

Paint brush – any will work, but I chose a 1 ½ brush. It cleans up with just soap and water so don’t worry about destroying it.

Something to flatten/smooth with. I use a paint scraper, but you can even use a credit card. I understand others use a roller (brayer), but I like the scraper the best.

Clear coat finish – I use a spray lacquer, but just about any clear finish will work. This is pretty much required as it seals the image as well as hiding all the leftover paper, as you will see later.

Now, Let’s get to work…...........

For this transfer, I picked a nice piece of oak and an image of the Baltimore Orioles / Natty Boh Guy taken from an old sign I saw for sale in Baltimore.

I also chose to use a Black & White image, and used my graphics program to flip it horizontally before printing it.

Remember – only a LASER printed image will work for this! If you don’t have access to one, go to a copy center (Kinko’s for example) and have them make you a few copies. It’s only a few cents per copy.

The oak was rough cut, so I ran it through my planer and sanded it smooth.

Although you don’t need to, I chose to trim the image down to just what was needed as there is less work to do later.

I then tested the placement before I began spreading the medium.

Spread the gel out in a nice, thin coat – I used about two glops (see below image) for this image. You will be tempted to put on a nice thick coat, but it isn’t needed and it makes things more messy and difficult to accomplish.

Smooth the medium with the grain of the wood – you don’t have to have it perfect at this stage.

Apply the image, face side down of course, to the wood and smooth with the tool of your choice.

Be careful not to push down with your fingertips as I have left “divots” in the medium doing this.

Smooth over the image until it is adhered very well – you will probably squeeze out some of the gel and that’s just fine. Don’t press too hard though – you have to leave some gel under your image for this to work.

Once smoothed really flat, go over the wood again with the paintbrush to smooth out the gel.

Try not to get a bunch of gel on the back of the paper – this will make finishing much more of a chore! Getting a tad around the edges is OK though.

Now the hard part – you have to let this thing dry! Overnight is best – don’t worry about walking away from this for days or even weeks though.

This looks like a great place to end this part of my blog so…...........

Until later, BYE!

Stay tuned….......


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

10 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 3283 days

#1 posted 06-20-2013 11:43 PM

Great blog Bob. Very clear instructions for a neat project. Looking forward to the next process.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View degoose's profile


7284 posts in 4564 days

#2 posted 06-20-2013 11:43 PM

Good so far… waiting for the next instalment…thanks for taking the time to post this.

-- Be safe.

View oldnovice's profile


7739 posts in 4577 days

#3 posted 06-21-2013 05:30 AM

This is interesting stuff! Can’t wait to see ow this turns out.
I remember doing something similar with “silly putty”!
I don’t remember, did you state this does not work on color?

How did you develop (pardon the pun) this process?

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4130 days

#4 posted 06-21-2013 11:15 AM

Great posting Bob! Thanks for sharing the information with everyone. I am sure lots of people will enjoy doing this! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4278 days

#5 posted 06-21-2013 11:26 AM


As I stated above, color images work just fine as long as they come from a color laser printer.

To figure out the process, I first did a LOT of research on google, wiki and youtube. Then, it was a matter of trial and error. I am also using color images currently for a project for myself which I will post when finished – these use gesso, which leaves a matt, white background instead of a clear one.



-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3078 days

#6 posted 06-21-2013 11:40 AM

I’d recommend a doctor visit. You are displaying the classic symptoms of stickittothemanitosis.

(A movie reference: “School of Rock” ... You kids might be too young to remember it)

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4014 days

#7 posted 06-21-2013 11:44 AM

Gr8 timing on this. Thnx for the “how-to”

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View apbeachy's profile


22 posts in 3487 days

#8 posted 06-21-2013 12:22 PM

Thanks for posting this how to. Can’t wait to try it

View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4278 days

#9 posted 06-21-2013 08:33 PM

Actually, Buckethead, I recognized it instantly! Jack Black is the MAN!

I just posted the 2nd part of this blog – the final chapter, if you will…..........



-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3885 days

#10 posted 06-21-2013 09:19 PM


Need I say more!!


-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

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