How to transfer a picture from a paper to a piece of wood

Written by carl hose | 13/05/2017

A wooden plaque or sign with a custom image can make a great gift. Custom wood plaques are also hot-selling items at craft fairs and flea markets. Making custom plaques and signs is easy to do. You don't need to be an artist to transfer any image to a piece of wood to create signs for businesses, gifts for family and friends, or a collection of your favourite images on wood blocks. With image transfer paper and a few simple supplies, create beautiful custom plaques and signs for fun or profit.

Place the image you want to transfer on a colour photocopy machine. Load the photocopier with image transfer paper, which you can purchase online or at hobby and craft stores. Size the image to fit the wood you will place the transfer on. Print the image onto the transfer paper. You can do colour or black-and-white images.

Soak the image in water for several minutes, until the image you printed slides off the paper. Use a soft cloth to dab away any excess moisture, which will help prevent bubbling when you transfer your image.

Paint the wood surface with a thin layer of turpentine. This will help melt the image onto the wood. Carefully lift the image and place it onto the wood surface, taking care not to let it fold up. Position the image where you want it, then drop it onto the wood surface. Remove the backing of the image transfer and smooth away any air bubbles that may have formed.

Set the wood block aside. It takes a few hours for the transfer to dry. As it dries, the image will melt into the wood. Check the image after it has dried to make sure it melted evenly. You can add more turpentine to the image and reapply it to fix any mistakes.

Apply a thin, clear coat of wood varnish over the image when it has completely dried.


Wood image transfers are long-lasting and make wonderful personal gifts.

Tips and warnings

  • Wood image transfers are long-lasting and make wonderful personal gifts.

Things you need

  • Image transfer paper
  • Colour photocopier
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Turpentine
  • Brush
  • Wood
  • Image
  • Cloth
  • Wood varnish

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