The print transfer you can see in the tutorial below was originally created as a Water Slide Decals, and is still available in our online shop at BigBite Studio – Print Transfers.
If you want to try it yourself, you can have this design as
Water Decal: Martial Arts Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba #086
In this tutorial I will present a way to transfer inkjet print onto wood or furniture.
I am not going to show anything new or super-innovative, this technique is widely known, and you can find a lot of examples of using it on hobby & craft websites, however – in most cases – it is known as a Mod Podge technique. Which I personally find very annoying, mostly because of the price you must to pay to buy a small jar of Mod Podge.
After small investigation I discovered, that Mod Podge is nothing more than PVA glue, the one you can buy for ‘next to nothing’ in any stationary store with school equipment. So I started there. After some trial and error process I end up with a way which works fine for me. The results are satisfying, and you can see them on our Wooden Plaques with Print page.
So here it is: How to Transfer Print onto Wood in 5 Easy steps.
1. What you need
The glue I found at the end of my research is a regular contractors PVA glue, bought in B&Q (DIY and home improvement store). Apart from this you need:
- an ordinary photocopy transparency film (format A4, the same as a regular printing paper),
- a brush and
- a plank, or any other wooden surface you want to transfer your print onto. You need some sort of
- sticky tape also, I use just regular paper masking tape.
The transparency film you see on the image above was used by me many times before. I sanded one side just to break a little a smoothness of the surface. It is just matter of taste. You do not have to do it, as the glue after getting dry becomes very smooth and shiny – it is ok if you like it, but I was looking for more distressed finish.
2. Preparing the printing sheet
This part is straightforward and involves only three steps:
- spill it,
- smear it (use the brush),
- dry it.
The film must dry completely. As you can see on the picture above, initially white glue becomes transparent after drying.
Once it dries, you are ready to print your design on it.
3. Preparing the plank
I will not cover the printing itself in this article. If you need any tips in this subject, check my previous tutorial about transferring the print using water decals. Just remember about one most important thing: you must print your design in a MIRROR REFLECTION. This is crucial.
PLEASE NOTE: This method is suitable with inkjet printers only. It will not work with laser printers.
Once you are done with printing, give the transparency film an hour or so, to make sure that ink dries completely.
Start with placing the image on the board and aligning to the desired position. Lay the sheet printed side down, you should see in front of you correct (not mirrored) image. Once it placed as you wanted to, strap the film with paper masking tape (I use this kind of tape to avoid struggling with removing it afterwards, but you can use actually any kind of tape). You will secure the sheet only from one side, to make it possible to flip it over and then to put back in precisely the same position as before.
So you do: you flip the film over and apply a layer of contractors PVA glue to the plank. You smear it accurately over the surface and then you carefully put your design back in the place.
4. Attaching the image
Starting from attached end of your film slowly lay it down rubbing it across the page during the process, to remove all air bubbles. Try not to slide the page, as it may smudge the ink.
Once you are done remove the tape.
This is basically it. The first ‘wet’ phase of the transfer is done. Now you need to leave your plank until it dries up. You must be patient as this may take from couple of hours up to couple of days; it depends on humidity of the wood. If the plank was taken out of a dry attic, where it was resting for a long time, couple of hours will do. However, if you just salved it from the rainy London street and covered with 3 layers of paint, the process will be considerably longer.
Your indicator is the appearance of the PVA glue. You will notice that after laying back your image on the wet glue layer, the sheet is losing the transparency gained after initial drying up. Now it is milky opaque – so you want to wait until it become transparent once again.
5. Removing the film
The plank I used in this tutorial was properly dry, so in the evening (after 5 -6 hours) I could get my hands dirty once again.
Wedge the film from one corner and pull. If everything is as it should be you will not have any problems with that. However – if you can feel any resistance putting up by the film, that means it is not dry enough. You need to wait some more. Leave it over night or so.
If you are lucky, whole layer of glue will come off the sheet – this way you can avoid cleaning the film after the job.
The last thing is to take a sanding paper and remove the access of the dried glue from the edges of your plank. You may want to sand the whole surface as well, to make it evenly smooth. When you are happy with the result, you may want to protect your work with the clear wax or polyurethane varnish. I would not try an acrylic varnish, as it is water based and may damage the surface.
That is it. As I said in the beginning of this tutorial, you may see my results on Wooden Plaques with Print.
And below you can find out how the plaque looks after heavy sanding, which revealed colourful layers of paint from underneath.