Photo transferring on wood – which approach is best for what?

I am not going to add a tutorial for transferring photos on wood. There are plenty of those throughout the net. Instead I will describe the little hacks I discovered while doing photo prints on my own. Oh, and my printer is photo sublimation printer, but I suppose the following will be valid for ink-jet and laser printers. For laser printers the things will be easier, as the ink will not smudge as much and the resulting transfers will be sharper.

Transfer with parchment paper

Parchment paper is great for that job. The stuff absorbs very little of the ink, and the transfers are really nice. But, as I noticed, the paper is so thin and transparent that the majority of the printers do not register that it is in the tray and constantly call for paper refill. To avoid that, I got one normal piece of paper and with crafts glue glued one of the short sides of the papers.

glued on parchment paper

Let that dry for a little bit and filled the printer with the glued side down.
printer with parchment paper

The result is surprising – the image prints really nice and after that I just peel off the parchment paper and very carefully position it on the wood.

printed image

If the image is big you can position painter’s tape sticky side up on the table and carefully stick the printed image from one side. That way when put on top of the wood it will not smear that much.

transferring photo on wood

That technique is really cool for logos, or images that do not have much details or colors. Otherwise, the printed image does not transfer as the paper absorbs some of the ink after all.

Transfer with wax paper

Wax paper is better than the parchment for transferring images with more details, or letters. It does not absorb at all the ink, so the resulting transfers are with more contrast.

transferred image

Again, it is best for logos but still it is no good for full colored photos. Oh, and for me personally, I couldn’t lay a normal A4 paper without smudging the ink and ruining everything, so use relatively small images. The control with parchment paper is better than with the wax one. As the wax paper absorb none of the ink, and in the moment you place it on the wood the ink is there. You get only one shot with that, so be extra careful.

Transfer with mod podge

Transferring with mod podge is really useful for photos, or images with lots of details, or colors.

needed tools for mod podge transffer

The idea behind that is that the papers are layered. When applying the glue only the upper layer glues to the wood, the rest peels off easily when rubbing with water. This is true if you want to transfer on glass, too. The trick here is to choose the right paper and image size. First I tried with photo papers and small images.

mod podge first try

The result was not that good – the layers of the photo paper are really thick and when glued on, it looks like a sticker is glued. The best result is with normal paper and the printer is set to “photocopy print”. Also, rub the layers very carefully and let the whole thing dry in between rubs.

Finally, for all techniques, print your image mirrored (I almost always forgot that one and ended up with double printing) and seal off with spray lacquer at the end.