Introduction: Inkjet Transfer of Rensburgkop to Wood Backboard

I wanted to transfer an image of Rensburgkop, Swinburne onto a backboard I made for my hangboard. I chose this image because my climbing partner and I climbed the route "Long Bolt To Freedom" here, this was the first multi-pitch higher than 2 pitches that we have done. That was in January this year, which now feels like a lifetime ago, and I wanted something to motivate me and remind me that it will all still be there when this is over. I also decided to edit the image to bring out all the colours of the rainbow in celebration of Pride🏳️‍🌈❤️🧡💛💚💙💜


Sandpaper (120 grit)
Piece of wood (I used a backboard I made, you can use any piece of unsealed wood)
Inkjet printer (I have a Canon Pixma)
Label paper without the labels
Masking tape
Pencil for marking
Spray on sealant (optional)

Step 1: Prepare Your Wood

For my transfer I used a backboard I made to mount a climbing hangboard I also made. I had pre-drilled all holes needed and sanded the surface using 120 grit to ensure a more porous surface for the ink to transfer. Wipe down your wood with a damp cloth until all sawdust is removed.

Step 2: Mark Guides for Placement

Using a piece of scrap paper of the same size as your label paper make markings for the centre and corners of each page that you will be transferring across the top and bottom of your workpiece. Remember to take into account the non-printable edge that will have to overlap your previously transferred page, unless you are able to print borderless. These markings will allow you to accurately position the transfer on your workpiece.

Step 3: Prepare Your Image

FLIP YOUR IMAGE! Unless it is something reversible, always flip your image otherwise you will be left with a reverse of what you intend to transfer. You need to flip the image for it to transfer in the correct orientation. You may want to scale up or down (remember to preserve original aspect ratio) or edit the image in other ways, these are all choices you will have to make depending on your theme you have chosen, however I do advise going lighter than you think you should. I scaled my image up quite large to fit over 3 pages (remember to preserve the aspect ratio so you do not distort the image), removed the sky background and I did a lot of editing on the image itself to make it sharper and bring out all the colours of the rainbow for Pride🏳️‍🌈

Step 4: Test Prints and Transfers (optional)

Before you go and waste entire pages of ink it might be worthwhile to consider doing a test print and transfer.
I scaled my image back down, printed it and transferred it onto a scrap piece of wood.
Whoops! I forgot to flip my image (I know🤦‍♀️) - no big deal though, because it's a test! I also clearly did not dampen the wood enough, as even with a lot of pressing and working the printed area into the wood (as small as it was) I was still left with voids. Lastly, although I know some of this is probably due to the drastic downscaling of my image, but I did notice that the darker colours in the image seemed to muddy the overall image once transferred.
So my takeaways from my quick test:
- Dampen your wood sufficiently!
- Lighten your image more than you think you should!
- Do your own tests if you are unsure!

Step 5: Print Your Image

No special settings for your printer are necessary, in fact they may put too much ink on the label paper. I printed in colour on an Inkjet printer, at normal quality on label paper (the glossy side)
This is important if your transfer is more than one page, you cannot do multiple pages at a time and I also advise leaving each section to dry for a while before doing the next page.
First dampen the wood for the section you will be transferring now (as in one page's worth of wood). It must be damp not soaking wet, no puddles but you must be able to visibly see that it is wet. Now go print a page of your transfer, mine was 3 pages so I started on page 2, it just seemed to make most sense to start in the middle.
If transferring more than one page, leave your piece to dry thoroughly before moving to the next page. Dampen the section for the next page, taking special care along the edge of the image from the previous transfer, if you put too much water in this section it will blur the ink, not enough and there will be a line of improper transfer between your two pages.
Transfer paper can be reused, I used one sheet for my whole project, two small test prints and 3 half to full page prints. All you need to do is wipe off any excess ink with a damp tissue or paper towel and then wipe dry, done!

Step 6: Transferring the Image

Carefully set your transferred image next to your work piece. Check for dry spots on the wood, if there are any just lightly dampen them again. Look at the surface from a low angle and make sure it is equally damp but has no pools of water, the water will help the ink transfer into the wood, but too much will blur and smudge the image.
Have some small pieces of masking tape ready to aid in holding the transfer down while you work the ink in, you do not want it moving as you will smudge the ink.
Carefully line up one side of your label paper with the markings on your wood, hold down firmly and add small pieces of tape. Slowly work the rest of the paper down onto the wood once you know one side is in the correct place and add tape carefully around the edges.
I tried several methods to push the ink into the wood, but I found pressing over the paper carefully and firmly with your fingers worked the best, taking care not to shift the label paper at any point as you will smudge your image. Do this for a few minutes, making sure to go over the entire printed area with even pressure, to ensure all the ink has been transferred to the wood, not all the ink transfers immediately, however you do have to get your placement right the first time as most of the image will be transferred in that placement. If you really are not happy with the transfer or placement you can always send it off and try again.

Step 7: Finishing the Image

To preserve the longevity of the image you will probably want to seal it. I would advise against using a brush or roll on sealant as it will blur and smudge the image. If you think you may like this effect do a small test transfer to a scrap piece of wood and test your sealant options. Tape off any areas you do not want sealed using masking tape and paper if necessary. I applied two coats of a matt spray on sealant, allowing to dry in between coats, over the entire front surface of the wood to seal in my image.

Step 8: Display Your Art With PRIDE🏳️‍🌈

Display your transfer! As I said before mine is a backboard for a hangboard I made (more instructables to come!) and so has been mounted above my garage door entrance where I will be able to use my hangboard.
Happy Pride everyone🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈
Please vote for me if you enjoyed my project😀

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