How to Transfer A Photo Onto Wood – 5 Simple Steps

Here is a project that I once thought was much more complicated than it really is.  I assumed you had to own some special kind of printer that runs pieces of wood through and prints the images onto them.  Sounds kind of silly now...

In all actuality, transferring photos onto wood is extremely simple and doesn't take any special tools or materials.  DIY mommy HeyKayli gives us the full scoop (video below)!

The best's only 5 easy steps!​

What you'll Need
  • Printed Photo (on regular paper)
  • Piece of Wood
  • Sand Paper (medium to fine)
  • Gloss Gel (medium)
  • Mod Podge (Antique Matte featured in this tutorial)
  • Water
  • Rag, Sponge Brush, Paint Brush (any or all of these will work)
  • About 8 hours of drying time (or overnight)
Quick Tips
  • The thinner the paper the better. So, if you go to Kinko's or some place similar, be sure to ask for the thinnest paper.
  • Ensure the photos are printed the same size as the piece of wood you are using.
  • Sand the wood before you start (especially along the edges)

Hope you're ready we go!

Step One

​Apply a generous amount of Gloss Gel onto the wood using your sponge brush.  The transfer will not work if the amount is not generous.  I can't stress enough...generous.  Ok, you get it.  Smooth it out a little but to ensure even coverage.

Be sure to include the sides of the wood if you want the photo to extend beyond the edges.  ​

transfer wood photo

Step Two

Place wood onto the face of the picture and firmly press down around the wood evenly.

transfer wood photo

Turn the wood over until the paper is on top and gently smooth away any bubbles or uneven surfaces.  Use your hands.  If you try to get clever and use something with a hard edge (like a ruler) you run the risk of tearing the paper.  

transfer wood photo

Step Three

Let the wood and paper dry overnight (or at least 8 hours) to ensure the transfer was successful.  

Place a wet rag over the paper side of the wood piece and press down for a minute or until the paper is thoroughly damp.

transfer wood photo

Step Four

Using your rag, begin scrubbing away the damp paper from the photo that is now transferred onto the wood.  

Try not to scrub too much after the paper is removed or the photo could be damaged.  

transfer wood photo

Go through a few iterations of letting the wood dry a few minutes and wiping it off until the paper residue is essentially gone.  

transfer wood photo

Step Five

Evenly apply 2-3 coats of Mod Podge to the wood photo and let it rest until dry. This tutorial features an Antique Matte Mod Podge, but it is up to individual tastes.  

transfer wood photo


Now, didn't I tell ya?  It's really that easy!

transfer wood photo

Add a few screws on the back to hang or let it rest on a table, and you're the envy of the neighborhood!

transfer wood photo
transfer wood photo
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Hi, I’m Brandon and I can’t express how excited I am that you chose The Saw Guy as your resource for project ideas, tool reviews, and all-around guide to the world of DIY. I spent years in the construction industry refining my knowledge of various trades and even spent a few years working at a major hardware store. ​If there is anyone who can help you make a well-informed, unbiased, budget-conscious decision, it’s me and my team.

7 thoughts on “How to Transfer A Photo Onto Wood – 5 Simple Steps”

  1. thank you so much for showing how to transfer the paper I have always wanted to know how my son races cars and he has many pictures

  2. Not as easy to do this as you make it look. It takes a lot of practice to perfect it.. What is the best way to smooth out any air bubbles? What is the best photo paper to use? How damp is too damp?

  3. Gloss Gel and Mod Podge would be considered “special materials”. A Pitcher is something that holds a liquid. Like a water pitcher. A Picture is what you would transfer.


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