5 Ways to Print on Wood | DIY Image Transfer

5 Ways to Print on Wood | DIY Image Transfer


What’s up guys, I’m Brad Rodriguez from Fix This Build That and today, I’m gonna show you five different ways to print on wood. I’m gonna show you four DIY methods, and one method that is totally cheating. And the results were pretty cool. That’s not even the best one. Let’s check them all out. For the five different ways I’m gonna use a printout for each one of them so we can compare it and I can show you the results. I got my logo on here, I’ve got a little picture so if you want to do a picture you can see how that looks. And some text so you can kind of see how it works for all those different scenarios, and that’s gonna be what you might want to use for yours. The first way that you can print on wood is acetone. I’m going to show you this. Again, this is all based around laser printed. So this is all toner. This is not inkjet. This method will work for inkjet though. Just not as well. To transfer the ink I laid the mirror image print out on the wood and I creased the paper over the edge to hold it in place. You could also use tape here. I used a plastic hotel keycard wrapped in a shop towel then I dipped it in the acetone. Then I just firmly pressed the keycard down onto the wood and let the acetone soak into the paper. And I rubbed the towel back and forth along the surface Now it doesn’t take long at all and the ink is transfer it over. Then the paper just peels right up. There’s no stickiness and it reveals the image. All right, so that’s the acetone here. You can see the picture quality. It turned out pretty decent like I mentioned but on the picture It’s a little bit bad. Whenever you have a lot of that dark text it’s also not the greatest. But with the little text it looks actually pretty good for just the line text. So that’s okay. So pros, It’s very quick. It’s clean It’s cheap. On the cons you know you’re dealing with the harsh chemical. Acetone is a little bit nasty and Obviously the picture quality would also be a con. Let’s move onto the next one. All right, the next way to print on wood is to use a clothes iron Now you probably don’t want to use the one in the house that your husband or wife is using Don’t do that. Go ahead and grab one from Goodwill this one I think I got was two bucks, and I use it for edge banding. But the idea is that we have toner from a laser printer. We’re gonna use heat to transfer that to the wood Let’s see how it’s done The clothes iron method is extremely simple. I just put the paper down and I creased it over the edge like I did before. Then I literally just iron the paper just making sure that it didn’t move around while I was doing it. I tried to press down hard and I had the iron on high But I still don’t think that it was enough heat. When I peeled off the paper it did not look good. All right pros and cons for the clothes iron. Obviously for the pros it is very cheap. Almost everybody’s got an iron that they can use and it is quick and efficient. The cons, picture quality not great. It does okay on text. It might be better if you had a hotter iron or a more isolated heat source. And also just from a con perspective you can burn yourself you can scorch the wood That brings some variables that you might not want in the shop. All right let’s move onto the next one. The third way to print on wood is to use a water-based polyurethane. I’ve got polycrylic here I’m gonna put this on. I’m gonna put it on the wood, Put it on top and let it dry and then we’re gonna remove the paper and the image should be below. Let’s see how it works. I brushed on the polycrylic with a small acid brush trying to get a thin film that was wet but not puddling. I think less is better than more in this instance, and you really don’t need a lot. Then I press the paper down into the wet polycrylic and I smooth the paper from the center outward to remove any air bubbles. And to firmly seat the paper into the polycrylic before setting it aside to dry. It’s been about an hour and the polycrylic looks pretty dry so I got some water and a stiff toothbrush, and I’m just gonna remove this paper off the back using some water to loosen it up. I found the easiest way to remove the paper is to wet the whole back first and then peel off as much as you can by hand before scrubbing. Then it’s just gentle scrubbing with the toothbrush until all the papers gone. I wiped off the wood with a shop towel, then I looked at the results. Got the polycrylic done and this looks amazing! Really good job of transferring the ink, very dark and the picture is almost perfect. So this one did a really good job. I’m a little bit surprised actually. So for the pros obviously image quality is gonna be first and foremost Great quality on that transfer. It’s gonna look awesome. Also, if you’re a woodworker you probably already have some water-based poly on hand. The cons, it takes a little bit longer because you have to let it dry It’s also a little mess and I’m gonna have to go in here and clean this up a bit. But all-in-all, this is a great option. All right let’s see the next one The fourth way is one that’s probably the most popular that I’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos on is using an acrylic gel medium. Tthis one is a liquitex. I’ll have a link down below in the description to this one as well as all the different materials that I use in this project. But this is basically for acrylic paint But when you put it on the surface it will also transfer that ink onto the wood, so let’s see how it works. The gel medium goes on similarly to the polycrylic except it’s a gel versus a liquid. So I found a foam brush worked well to distribute the gel ecause the brush just left too many ridges. Now again here less is more I press the paper into the gel and then I pushed out all the air bubbles with my fingers and then with the keycard since the gel is just a little bit thicker, and it was not as easy to move as that polycrylic was. Then again I set it aside to dry. Okay, this one is dry and let this sit as well. The process is gonna be very similar to what I did on the last one for the polycrylic. Just gonna put some water on here, some warm water, and get it off. I only let this sit for about an hour to an hour and a half. You don’t need to do it overnight from my test. Let’s see how it turns out. The only thing different from the polycrylic was when scrubbing the gel medium it seemed to grab a lot harder. I think this is because the gel is thicker and then there’s just more of a buildup on the surface. So maybe thinning the gel with water before application could help. Alright the gel medium turned out great the quality is great. Just like the polycrylic. Looks really good really dark great transfer. The only thing about this one is that this paper is really sticking to it, so especially if you left this overnight. It would be extremely hard. This is about an hour and a half, and I still have a lot of paper left on here and I scrubbed it a little longer than I did the polycrylic. So for the pros, I’m gonna say excellent transfer quality. You know it’s fairly easy to go on but it is messy from a con perspective and is also a lot harder to get off. So I’m gonna go back into this clean it up a little bit, and I’m gonna get you to number five. I’m gonna do a little cheating. The fifth way that I’m going to print on wood is not DIY, but it is awesome, and yes, it is cheating. It’s gonna use a CNC laser. Let’s check it out This is my Full Spectrum hobby laser. It can engrave wood plastics leather, and the setup is really easy. I just put the wood in the machine, I line up the little red positioning dot and then just press print similar to printing on your own printer. Now the laser starts its path and it isn’t fast, but it sure is fun to watch. Now I got this laser from Rockler Woodworking, and it’s an older model now but I’ll have a link below in the description if you want to check out what these things are all about. Alright, so the laser print obviously it turned out great because that is laser controlled the logo looks really awesome. Everything is really finely defined the only drawback of the laser on on using it on pine is the density between the wood is not consistent. So it burns deeper in some areas Which you kind of see on the logo there. But again everything turns out really nicely. The obvious pros of the laser is it’s super accurate and the text looks amazing. But the downfall obviously is the price, okay? But if you’re getting that to print on wood you’re not just gonna be doing that you’re gonna be doing other things like making boxes Stuff like that. It’s a great tool to have I’m fortunate to have one and you might be able to get access to one at a local Maker Space So you don’t have to go out and buy one necessarily. Alright, I’ve got all five of these methods laid out in front of me I’m gonna give you a close-up and show you how each of them look compared to the other. Then I’m gonna put some finish on them and we’ll see how that changes things too so when you look at them. I think that the polycrylic would definitely be my first choice. The gel medium my second just because there’s a lot of extra effort on that one. Then acetone if you wanted something super quick and easy. Clothes iron, wouldn’t do it. And if you’ve got lots of money then I go with the laser. I’m gonna put some lacquer on here, and we’ll see how these change After I put the finish starting to change my mind a little bit. I tell you what, number one acetone it really darkened it up. I like the look of it. The clothes iron, what can we say that’s really not good at all. Polycrylic still by far my favorite one. Blacks are super crisp and also the finish on it is very very smooth. Gel medium this one changed my mind after the finish you can see here It is not very smooth at all. The finish brought out all the little bumps from the leftover paper And which means I would I had to spend a lot more time cleaning that off to get a really nice finish. I’m gonna knock that one down behind the acetone now. The CNC laser turned out great but it doesn’t darken up with the finish, and it’s not that black if you’re really looking for it. It’s much more of a burnt wood look or a pyography look. There you go guys now you know five different ways to print on wood and how each of them turns out. I’m going with the polycrylic I really enjoy that one the finish on it is great And it’s a nice combination between being easy as well as having a good product at the end. If you’re not subscribed to the channel already I’d love to have you as part of the team and until next time Get out there and build something awesome!

100 thoughts on “5 Ways to Print on Wood | DIY Image Transfer

  1. If you want a detailed write up you can see it here: http://fixthisbuildthat.com/print-on-wood-5-ways-diy-image-transfer/

    Also, all prints were mirror image from a laser printer and normal multipurpose copy paper. I do not own an inkjet printer anymore so couldn't test those methods.

  2. I tried to do the polycystic and the ink came off,but I used a washcloth to remove the paper,but I didn't press hard in fact I pressed harder with my finger to take the majority of the paper off and the ink was already removed. Any advice? I could use some.

  3. I tried the acetone ( I used nail polish remover). I cCouldn’t get it to work on a piece of old wood or a piece of smooth or plywood!

  4. You just saved my life…..my husband loves you and all your work…I am a pinterest girl myself, but I have to say, after today….you reign supreme my friend!!! Thank you

  5. What kind of printers are people using? I haven't had much luck with any of these using the Brother HL-L23DO4D series that I have.

  6. Hi I’m back ur technique worked
    I’m sooo happy that ur not one of those YouTubers that fake or lie
    For example 5 minutes craft

  7. I tried with the gel medium but it seems that the paper was transferred onto wood and not just the ink also it scrapped all in the middle of the picture and it came out faded. I used a laser print onto thin photographic paper. Maybe is the type of print that I have to change?

  8. I used the Polycrylic (same brand) and I let it dry. Later (2 hrs) I tried to rub it off and the whole picture rubbed off too. I used a damp cloth and my finger. I don’t understand how your results turned out so well. It’s cheap boards from the art store. Could the wood type be the reason?

  9. So I know I'm late to the game on this, but i have a question. In order to get a nice bond and no air bub les wouldnt something similar to the old clothes wringers be useful?

  10. Pretty disappointed with the results I received from the polycrylic and it seemed so straight forward. After I waited for it to dry, I tried removing the paper, but bits of the lettering came up with it. Hhhmm. I haven't a clue as to what went wrong. I watched the video clip several times. Oh well.

  11. At 0:38 You say you are using this method for a laser print. But then a few seconds later you begin the instructions by saying “To transfer the ink.”

  12. I tried the liquid gel some time ago. Gave up on it. Too messy and time consuming and inconsistent results. I may try the acetone and polycrilic.

  13. Does it matter which polycrylic I use? I noticed in video you use clear satin but the link is for clear semi-gloss.

  14. Thanks for Sharing this video. Every detail is captured carefully.
    Can you tell us the details of your printer, which company and model ?

  15. Hello sir hope u are fine
    Sir good explanation and clearify Plz tell me which paper u are using in this seminar so give me feedback I m waiting.

  16. Does the Acetone method work with color laser copies? I've been having a devil of a time with transfer medium peeling up the picture when I go to rub it off. Thanks!

  17. Have you tried the polycrylic method with an oil finish as opposed to lacquer? For instance for use on a butcher block.

  18. Does it work w/ colors from laser printers? Does DPI intensity makes a difference? (i.e. if too much color toner it would smear?)

  19. I use 8 1/2 x 11" Freezer paper, just print your image and transfer by same method as the card. Love the poly one here I'll have to try it.

  20. Good job. Your shop looks very organized. How about doing a photo on a CNC router using software like photoVcarve and some stain?

  21. I like the poly acrylic method best. The cleanup didn't look too bad. I was just wondering if by scrubing it, some of the ink would diminish. I did not like the laser printer method because the ink was not dark enough to my liking. This was a great video.

  22. I tried the Polycrylic method but the ink only half-way transferred and was easy to rub off. Is it possible I didnt use enough Polycrylic? Does anyone have any other suggestions I could do?

  23. Thanks for the video.

    I acquired a color Laserjet recently for this. Tried the polycrylic and I can't seem to get these results. Not sure if the heat/humidity is affecting it, but one test had the paper come off completely, no transfer. Another few sets I would peel and chunks of paint kept to the paper, ruining the project. Another sort of worked, but I had to keep going back to the wet/peel slowly to get so much of the paper residue off.

    What pieces of wood did you use? What grit were they sanded down to? Should it be rough like 80-120, smoother like 220+?

    I also tried the gel medium via Modge Podge. Works, but man is it ever a massive pain to peel material off.

    You ever try transfers with wax papers? Might try this route soon.

  24. Wow! Thanks for sharing! Was just thinking about how to put a photo of my ancestors on a piece of wood! 😁

  25. This video is amazing! I was looking for something totally different (transfer ink on cardboard, not wood) but I stayed and watch your video until the end cos it´s greatly done. Either you´re a natural or a pro. Maybe both. Well done!

  26. Another method to consider if you're doing a thick clear finish is printing on rice paper and embedding it into poly. The rice paper becomes transparent and anything printed on it remains sharp and crisp. Look for other videos for Rice Paper Under Fiberglass, which is commonly used on skateboards and surfboards. You don't need to use fiberglass and resin, the same method works under poly but requires extra coats to make the finish thicker than the rice paper.

  27. I tried the polycrylic technique 8 times, and every time it failed. When I took the paper off with a toothbrush the ink came off with it. I was applying no pressure and followed your video to the teeth….. any ideas?

  28. Hey there! Question, I see that what you printed isn’t backwards. And I saw u lay it down, face-down. How did it not transfer backwards?

  29. I use Liquitex liquid matte medium (instead of a gel). Whenever you use this transfer method it will always have a bit of a paper haze after the first "scrub". Just dampen a cloth, your fingers (or your toothbrush) and GENTLY rub in circular motions to remove as much of the remaining haze as possible. The areas that need the most attention, I find, are larger black areas. Finishing with a matte, satin or gloss varnish will bring the photo to life.

  30. Acetone is produced in nature and our bodies. Therefore it is not nasty, and is actually considered a Green Solvent.

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