Wood Cutout of Iceland With Picture Behind It




Introduction: Wood Cutout of Iceland With Picture Behind It

This instructable will show you how I made a piece of wall art with an outline of Iceland and a picture I took in Iceland.

I used a laser cutter for the cutout, but you could easily do a simple design using a jigsaw.


  • Printed picture - $9
  • 1/4" Plywood (2' by 2', Lowes, $7)
  • Paint - $2
  • Spray clear coat - $2 (used a little bit of a can)
  • Stain
  • Wood glue
  • Hot glue
  • Picture hanger


  • Hot glue gun
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clamps

Step 1: Step 1: Design the Files for Laser Cutting

Once I decided on using an outline of Iceland I searched through the pictures I took on my vacation until I found a picture that I wanted to use for the project. In order to help decide I made a "stencil" in Adobe Illustrator of Iceland. I did this by googling "Iceland outline vector file" and then copy pasted that into Illustrator. I drew a rectangle, then moved the Iceland outline on top of the rectangle and used Illustrator's shape mode "exclude" to cut out the shape of Iceland from inside the rectangle. The stencil is the picture above with the brown outline.

I copy/pasted the sides of the outer rectangle in order to laser cut the edge pieces at the same time as the main project.

IMPORTANT: You can't make this project whatever size you want. Your picture is restricted to the sizes that your photo printing place can print. I used Walmart's photo center and printed the picture at 12"x18" size. In the illustrator file I pasted the source picture and scaled/cropped it to 12" by 18" and then changed the rest of the design scaling so that it matched the picture.

Step 2: Step 2: Laser Cut the Wood

(If you don't have access to a laser cutter you can use a jigsaw for this step)

Sand your piece of wood before cutting it, it's much easier to sand a flat piece of wood than a piece with fragile edges like after cutting it.

Your laser cutter settings will vary based on what laser cutter you're using and what wood it is. I used 100% power 4% speed to cut through the wood, and 100% power 40% speed for the letters up top. I think the cut took about 20 minutes and the etching took 10 minutes.

I don't put any paint over the wood before cutting, but if you want to make sure it isn't scorched by the laser you can cover it with painters tape or whatever tape is recommended for laser cutting.

Step 3: Step 3: Paint, Stain, and Assemble/glue the Pieces

I stained the main board once with a neutral stain, then I painted in the "ICELAND" letters with acrylic paint. It took four coats of the blue paint until it was as bright and even as I wanted. I also painted the side pieces with the blue acrylic. Then I sprayed everything with a clear coat.

I used wood glue to attach the side pieces, and I had to clamp it together because my wood was really warped. Wood glue is amazingly strong so there isn't any need for nails or screws to help hold it together.

I then used wood filler to fill in the gaps between the side pieces and painted it blue just to give it more of a continuous border.

(Sorry I didn't take many pictures for this step)

Step 4: Step 4: Attach Picture and Hanger

I used masking tape to attach the picture to a piece of cardboard, then I used hot glue to attach the cardboard+picture to the back of the wood. I'm sure there are better ways to do it, but this is what was quick and easy to do.

I used foam board and hot glue to make the picture hanger stand out as much as I needed. It isn't the most secure thing, but the project is fairly lightweight and it should hold. Ideally you would use a block of wood and wood glue to keep the hanger in place.

Step 5: Step 5: Hang on Wall and Admire

Here it is, all done! Check out my website for other projects I've done: https://www.jacobathompson.com/my-projects

If you have any questions feel free to email me: jat5@g.clemson.edu

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    4 years ago

    Very nice, I might venture to do it manually, since I lack a laser cutter.

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    4 years ago

    I really really like this idea! Thanks for sharing it :D


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you, I'm glad you liked it and I hope it inspired you for your own projects!