Mitered frame with laser jet photo transfer

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Project by RHaynes posted 09-02-2015 07:03 PM 1177 views 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been working on a card box for my little sister, who is getting married in a few weeks. I wanted to transfer a laser jet print of an engagement picture to the lid of the box, but figured I better practice the technique a few times before trying my luck on the lid. After 3 or 4 tries, I got the technique down to where I was willing to take a shot at a “live” project. So this is a picture of my daughter from Easter last year, transferred onto a piece of maple plywood.

I was also working on my mitered frame technique in preparation for doing the box lid, and realized that my miter sled for my table saw did not make the move to our new house very well. So after some swear words, I made a shooting board the other night, accurate to a hundredth of a degree, and shot all of the miters after “rough” cutting them on my Kapex. I say “rough” because the cuts off the Kapex were darn near perfect. So the frame on this picture is miter joints done on the Kapex and shooting board. The frame is made out of reclaimed oak barnwood. I jointed the back face and the inside edge in order to get a flat frame, square cuts, and tight miters while leaving the weathered patina on the face and the outsides.

Project was finished with three coats of sprayed pre-cat lacquer. The first picture is unfinished. The second picture (hanging on the wall) is after finish.

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

3 comments so far

View drbyte's profile


819 posts in 4333 days

#1 posted 09-02-2015 07:46 PM

Very nice project. What method did you use to transfer the photo to the wood? Heat? Acetone? Other?

-- Dennis, WV

View RHaynes's profile


113 posts in 1891 days

#2 posted 09-02-2015 07:58 PM

Thanks, Dennis.
1. I sanded the plywood to 220-grit.
2. I selected the picture (light backgrounds work best), uploaded it to and used the express editor to change it to black and white (although I’ve heard this technique works with color photos also), and to reverse the image (it will appear on the wood backwards).
3. I printed the edited image on regular plain paper, using a laser jet printer.
4. I trimmed the photo from the paper and positioned it on the plywood. I then put masking tape around the edges to prevent the gel medium from getting on the plywood anywhere except where the picture would be placed.
5. I applied Liquitex heavy gloss gel medium to the plywood, making sure to spread it out evenly and heavily.
6. I placed the picture, printed side down into the medium and pressed it in place, first with my fingers to smooth out the air bubbles, then harder with a rubber wallpaper roller.
7. Let the picture sit overnight.
8. Remove the tape.
9. Take a shop rag and with warm water start wetting the paper and rubbing gently until it dissolves and you’ve rubbed it all off the photo. The ink will remain embedded in the wood and dried medium.
10. Let the wood/picture dry completely. Then finish as you choose, with lacquer, poly, etc.

I tried Steve Ramsey’s technique of printing the picture on a label sheet after peeling the labels off. It didn’t work for me at all. I tried the acetone technique too, but the results were mediocre at best—the acetone doesn’t force much of the ink into the wood and the image comes out very light. The gel medium left overnight worked best for me because it captures a lot of the ink and it hardens on the surface, leaving a clear image behind. It’s fast and simple doing it this way, you just need the gel medium and a hard rubber roller (I did multiple test runs and using a ruler or straight edge to flatten it out left lines on the image, and the roller resulted in much better ink absorption than just pressing with a finger).

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View Grumpy's profile


24942 posts in 4122 days

#3 posted 01-15-2017 11:50 PM

Great job Charles. Excellent detail.
My laser engraver is in the mail, can’t wait to have a play, you seem to have it mastered.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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