Image Transfer Onto Wooden Chest (Do's and Dont's)





Introduction: Image Transfer Onto Wooden Chest (Do's and Dont's)

About: I enjoy repurposing and restoring old furniture and making woodwork projects that are not seen every day. I make most of my projects using wood that is either, recycled,reclaimed and love to repurpose and re...

I know what you are thinking, NOT ANOTHER IMAGE TRANFER TUTORIAL but this is a bit different from other methods because the image is in the centre of the wood which creates a whole new set of problems. I search the Web for a way to do this but none of them worked so hence this tutorial.

Step 1: Main Issue

This was the main issue I had with my project. While the image transferred ok, once the varnish was applied the gel medium showed up and my project looked messy. Many of the graphics I wanted to add were small so I had to come up with a way to stop the gel from appearing outside the image. And when the paper is rubbed off the ink from the image smudged onto the wood causing a halo around the image, which looked messy.

Step 2: Solution

I used a laser printer and reverse the image using lunapic a great programme which is free online. I positioned all my graphics where I wanted them to appear and used making tape to tape up all the edges so that the wood was protected.

Step 3: Sanding Your Project

Step 4: Text Issue

The next issue I came across was any text with a clear background did not work. I tried a four different gels and all had the same problem, once varnish I had the clear messy background that did not match up with the varnished wood. To solve this issue I added a background to the text and used the tape on the edges again.

Step 5: Applying the Gel Medium

I tried a few ways to apply the gel and found using my fingers to smooth the gel gave it a smoother and better look. Using a brush or sponge pad left streaks which did not look good. I painted the inside of the tape with the gel medium making sure all the inside had an even coat. I found putting the gel on the small graphics like the pistols made them to soggy and they kept tearing. Smooth over gently with your hand. Gel must dry for at least 12 hours. Dont be tempted you will regret it.

Step 6: Removing the Paper

I redid this project so many times and found that if you push a wet cloth onto the image until you can see the image and then wait about 5 minutes before you start rubbing the paper rubs off easier without loosing ink from the image. Do not soak your image the image, when I used mod podge the image turned white and the ink wiped out. Always rub from the inside out so the gel on the edges does not lift and ruin the image. Don’t try and remove all the paper in one go, remove a layer and let it dry then repeat again until all the paper is removed. This takes time do not rush.

Step 7: Removing Gel Medium

My best advice is to try and get it right first time. I tried sanding the gel off, but the friction from the sander softened the gel and it because sticky glue that was very difficult to remove. I used a cloth soaked in thinners and spent ages rubbing it off.

Step 8: Products Used

These are the products that I tried. The final one that I found worked best for my project was the Faber castell. It was thin and easy to work with but the images were not as bright. Mod podge held the colour the best so think if it was used on an edge to edge project this would work great. The derivan gel for me was far too thick and hard to get an even coat. And the Mont Marte Gel was the cheapest of all the gels and worked fine. I finished off my project with 2 coats of Clear Polyurethane



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    Do your stain/paint first. Use Poly as your transfer medium. and a laser jet printer. You will have zero halo if you get all the paper off and then your future layers of poly will blend right in.

    4 replies

    The wood was raw, no stain or varnish. not sure what you mean by poly?

    I think the CrafsMan is onto something with the water based poly. There has to be a better way to get the paper off though.

    watched the video, will be trying this method next looks so simple and pilt is so cheap compared to all the other transfer products. Thanks for the tip.

    Great tips, thank you! I did something similar to transfer jigsaw templates to wood. I noticed a similar issue like you are with the text background showing. I found that my print cartridge head was gunked up with toner and was printing the transparent background. You might consider cleaning the head/cartridge to get rid of this issue. I also used photo paper which transfers quite well (can't tell if that's what you used).

    1 reply

    I used a laser printer, tried photo paper but found that to hard to remove. Got there in the end but was lots of trial and error lol

    Nice comparative work! :)

    Did you use an ink jet printer for this (which would explain the running colors)?

    I think you would have much better luck with either LASER printing or one of those that transfer color from some sort of tapes (name escapes me right now), they can print in gold and silver as well.

    Have a nice day :)

    1 reply

    I used a laser printer, but think because the wood was not sealed the ink rubbed into the wood.