Introduction: How to Print on Wood (Better Than Mod Podge)

Picture of How to Print on Wood (Better Than Mod Podge)


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This method of printing/transferring your laser-printed or photocopied image to wood (and other materials) is the best I have tried. These are the other methods I've used:

  • Mod Podge Photo Transfer
  • Liquitex Gel Medium
  • Citrus solvent (rub-off method)

The method demonstrated here uses Acrylic Polyurethane as a transfer medium and has these advantages:

  • Clear (not milky white like Mod Podge)
  • Dries Fast (I got away with 45 minutes in the demonstration, though 2 hours or more is ideal)
  • Cheaper
  • Durable (Less likely to rub off during paper removal process)

Comments

stamperln (author)2017-11-15

Thank you for this information. I have 2 questions: Will this process work with wood painted with chalk paint? If I seal the design with the Acrylic Plyurethane will the finish me matte or glossy?

craftyleigh (author)2017-09-11

yes yes yes! thank you sooo much for this tutorial. it's the first one i've found where it actually works! i ruined a good piece of wood and spent days trying to figure out the modge podge technique and also the 100% acetone method to no avail so i'm so happy this worked. thank you!

flopes9 (author)2017-09-07

I used minwax polycrylic and regular paper and it came out very good. I've also used a hot air gun to speed up the process and got decent results in 20 min.

Definitely a lot better then mod podge. Great info. Thanks

BrandyI (author)2017-06-24

This was great! I loved the commentary! Great job!!

mxx (author)2017-04-01

Great instructable! I'm going to try it out immediately!

TheCrafsMan (author)mxx2017-04-03

Thank you! Hope you enjoy it!

theresaburrows (author)2017-03-03

Hi, I enjoyed your video on the use of polycrylic.

you also mentioned a type of paper starts with the letter v which you get from france. I would like to check if this can be found in the USA. Also must this be printed on a laser or that special paper can do inkjet.

Hi! The transfer paper I used was "Tom Palissade's Transfer Paper". If you search for it on Etsy, it should come right up.

Due to the fact that it's only available in France, and numerous questions about DIY alternatives, I've been experimenting and have discovered you can use wax-free parchment paper, but it is a little tricky to feed through your printer. (I was going to do a video on it, but am still holding out for a better quality method, because I don't want it to be a hassle for people.)

This transfer method is for laserjet prints only. InkJet can be done using citrus solvent and a different "rubbing" method. Have a look at "citrus solvent inkjet transfer" for more info. :) Hope this helps!

MudaVenom (author)2016-11-30

Hello! I did this project using 'varathane diamond wood finish, water based' this was what the Home Depot rep referred me to when I asked for water based polyurethane. Everything goes well except when the wood dries, the image takes on a very ugly foggy white look from the paper. What am I doing wrong? Please help, I would love to use this technique for a Christmas gift. Thank you! :)

TheCrafsMan (author)MudaVenom2017-01-25

It could be that you simply need to gently rub the image more. ALSO note that you can eliminate much of the leftover white "fuzzies" when you apply your topcoat finish.

chilihook made it! (author)2016-12-09

Hey TheCrafsMan! This technique worked great. It was quick, it was easy, and I will be using it many more times for a variety of projects! In two spots I was a little too aggressive and pulled away some of the print but it gave the label sort of a distressed look, so cool. It's all good! Thanks again!

TheCrafsMan (author)chilihook2017-01-25

Thank looks FANTASTIC! :D Sorry for the late reply - I'm just seeing this. Great job!

nicolenb55 (author)2017-01-10

plakthat.com

Goods21 (author)2016-03-17

Hey . I am from India. I loved ur method its awesome. But i m nt able to get the product name n specification properly. Please can u help me out with d same. Is the poly urethane a paint or a coating thinner. Please help i want to make this project asap. Also if u can tell me some other brand apart from ace

hypere1 (author)Goods212016-10-04

just to the local hardware store and ask for this https://www.asianpaints.com/product/wood-finishes.woodtech-aquadur-pu-interior.html costs way less Approx 600inr for 1 kg

hypere1 (author)hypere12016-10-04

https://www.bergerpaints.com/products/berger-metal...
Berger has the same product , whichever u can find , both are Water Based Polyurethane

TheCrafsMan (author)Goods212016-03-21

I did some looking around and this is the closest thing I could find on Amazon India:

http://www.amazon.in/Liquitex-Satin-Varnish-236-Ml/dp/B00PP6TYHE/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458592151&sr=8-1-fkmr2&keywords=acrylic+poly+finish

BUT I am not 100% sure if it will work. I searched for "acrylic polyurethane" and "acrylic finish". Sorry I couldn't find something I know for certain will work!

SharonD52 (author)2016-03-10

Thanks for the tutorial and suggestion using Polyurethane, I have tried this, and I am wondering how to clear off the edges (like if the paper is cut out), I seem to get an edge and can't rub it off.....otherwise total awesome results ;)

TheCrafsMan (author)SharonD522016-04-26

Without having to do sanding/feathering, the easiest way to deal with this is to apply paper over ALL of the wood, even where there is no design. Then when you remove the paper, it has the same appearance throughout and you don't see any edges where it was cut. (This is easy on wood pieces smaller than 8.5x11" copy paper, but on larger pieces of wood, you simply apply blank pieces of paper over everything.)

Or, if you cut out the design, cut it out so that it follows the edges of the design. For instance, I recently applied a design to wood in the shape of my home state, with some words within the state. I cut around the state and applied that to the wood.

SharonD52 (author)TheCrafsMan2016-05-16

Thanks! I have actually tried so many things since first seeing this instructable.... but I have zero luck it seems. I have been using color laser....

seems the I always seem to get parts coming off.

Do you have a recommendation on the best type of paint to put on prior to adding the design? Or should I try on plain unfinished wood?

OneSimpleThing made it! (author)2016-04-13

Hi there:) I wrote a couple of messages but they somehow didn't show up ... Anyway , I ll try one more time ...
thank you for the tequnique , I love the look of the print on wood and I tried it myself a few times but , I ran into some difficulties . The print comes off with the paper after rubbing in too many places unfortunately ... Enough for it not to look as natural as I would like it to be. I tried putting polyacrilic on wood and after glue the print, I tried putting it on paper first , I tried both in the same time , I tried keeping it even longer that 2 hours and still, the results are the same despite the fact that I'm rubbing the paper off very gently ...
There's an example at the end.
Are there any specific tricks maybe ?
Thank you very much :)

Hi there! Thank you for sharing your picture here! I was wondering what type of PAPER you were using. I've found it to be best when I use the absolute cheapest and thinnest copy paper. I have some of the heavier-weight stuff, and that does not work well, because you have so much more paper to rub off, with more opportunity to rub off the design. The other important part is to make sure the design is pressed down into the wood well.

Lastly, which brand of acrylic poly did you use? I really want to help you have success with this!

Thank you very much for your reply ! :)
About the paper, because I don't have yet a laser printer , I get the prints done at a specified store ....and you re right, their paper seems to be thicker . So that's one thing to consider and it makes sense!
for the glue ,I use minwax brand polyacrilic ,water based protective finish...

Hi there! Thank you for sharing your picture here! I was wondering what type of PAPER you were using. I've found it to be best when I use the absolute cheapest and thinnest copy paper. I have some of the heavier-weight stuff, and that does not work well, because you have so much more paper to rub off, with more opportunity to rub off the design. The other important part is to make sure the design is pressed down into the wood well.

Lastly, which brand of acrylic poly did you use? I really want to help you have success with this!

Pinnistarr (author)2016-01-24

Love your presentation and idea! I've done transfers to wood for years and really disliked the "milky" finish or effect I would sometimes get! This is genius and I know it would work on painted surfaces! Thanks! Keep crafting!

TheCrafsMan (author)Pinnistarr2016-04-26

Thank you for checking it out! :)

OneSimpleThing (author)2016-04-13

I figured I'll put a picture of my recent craft for more details :)

OneSimpleThing (author)2016-04-13

I figured I'll put a picture of my recent craft for more details :)

OneSimpleThing (author)2016-04-13

Hi there! :) the technique seems awesome and I love the lightness of the printed image on the wood ... I tried it myself a couple of times but I ran into some difficulties. I don't want to give up on it because I love the way the picture shows up so, I figured I ll find out how to make the process more efficient .
Well, my problem is that the picture comes of the wood with the paper in too many areas when rubbing... enough for it not to look as natural as I want it to be . I tried putting polyacrilic on wood and glue the image, I tried putting polyacrilic on paper and afterwards put it on wood, I tried both in the same time, also I tried to keep it longer than 2 hours. The results are still the same unfortunately , the painting comes off in too many areas despite the fact that I'm rubbing the paper off very gently ...
Any special tricks for getting a whole , clean printed image?
Thank you very much :)

KATJEH (author)2016-01-17

What a great idea! Have you tried this on a painted or decopauged surface? Do you suppose the poly would level out over brush strokes to make a smooth surface? I would love to give this a try for a project I'm working on, but the sign will be painted or decoupaged. Thanks.

KATJEH (author)KATJEH2016-01-17

Also, does it work with the poly/stain combo?

TheCrafsMan (author)KATJEH2016-01-17

That's an interesting thought! I've not tried a poly/stain combo yet - only poly, THEN staining the edges of the wood afterwards. If you try this, let us know how it turns out! :)

TheCrafsMan (author)KATJEH2016-01-17

It does work over a dry (and oil-free) painted surface, particularly if it's smooth. It can also be applied over paper and other surfaces, so this should work.

jagged07 (author)2015-11-21

I've seen a tutorial using mod-podge where stain was added afterwards to give a distressed/antique look to the edges. Would the polyurethane seal the wood so that no stain or paint could be added after the transfer process?

TheCrafsMan (author)jagged072015-11-22

It could definitely still give a distressed/antique look to the edges after the poly seal is applied. If it doesn't take the stain well, it could be lightly sanded. (I generally prefer to sand/ease the hard edges of the finished print as part of the process.)

jagged07 (author)TheCrafsMan2015-11-23

Thanks!! Can't wait to try your method!

MahboobHussain (author)2015-11-19

wonderful

Thank you! :)

asteadman (author)2015-11-16

My very first photo to wood transfer is "curing" right now. I used the Mod Podge Photo Transfer liquid. ended up with a couple bubbles. it will be interesting to see what happens with them.

I really enjoyed your video! I'm heading to Ace tomorrow to pick up some Polycrylic and give this a go.

Thanks SO much for making this Instructable! Can't wait to try this method. :)

TheCrafsMan (author)asteadman2015-11-17

You are very welcome, sir! I hope you have success with it, and enjoy the process! :)

Blazer Pimp (author)2015-10-30

As state somewhere earlier, Toner Transfer method used for DIY printed circuit boards uses a clothes iron to remelt the toner which causes it to adhere to the copper clad. Doesn't take long for the toner to melt and after it has been heated, water can be applied just as you did immediately to begin removal of the paper, also cools the toner. This would remove necessity of applying poly to transfer your graphic. Then you could use the poly to seal the wood and graphic. Nice how to and congratulations.

TheCrafsMan (author)Blazer Pimp2015-10-30

Hi! Thank you for the information. I have tried this before and the results were much more faint and washed-out in appearance. I did try some bold black-only prints and it was still fairly faint. Might be good for aged or vintage looks.

Would be great if that worked, because it would eliminate the need for rubbing the paper off the cured poly.

MichiganDave (author)2015-10-25

BIG Thanks for sharing this with me and everyone lucky enough to find you. Your presentation was quite clear and this 'ible is too. Now I will go look for the products you showed me and start this project. Again: a BIG Thanks for this!

TheCrafsMan (author)MichiganDave2015-10-25

Thank you, MichiganDave! Always nice to hear this kind of feedback! :)

cowgirlgail (author)2015-10-24

Thanks. I was just going to get Mod Podge for a project I need done by November.

Where do you get Acrylic Polymerthane?

TheCrafsMan (author)cowgirlgail2015-10-24

Hi, cowgirlgail! It's Acrylic Polyurethane, but also goes by the names "water-based polyurethane" or "Polycrylic." You can get it at Lowe's, Ace Hardware, etc. (in the US.)

Here are some links on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search...

mdeblasi1 (author)2015-10-23

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I have been looking for several weeks for a way to do this and get crystal clear results.
It only made it better that I learned it from "The back woods Bob Ross!"
♡♡♡

ptkexpres (author)mdeblasi12015-10-23

I thought the same thing. He reminded me of Bob Ross too! Really loved this video!

TheCrafsMan (author)mdeblasi12015-10-23

This is such a great comment! :D Thank you very much for the encouragement!
It does my heart good to have been of some help to someone else.

ziggy harry (author)2015-10-22

Loved this. I am going to try it and hope that it comes out as great as yours. I'm from Australia and just love your accent!

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