DIY Photo transfer to wood are a unique way to capture life’s memories. These are way more fun than a boring old frame!

Photo Transfer to Wood

DIY Photo Transfer to Wood

This process is pretty easy, other than some patience as you work at it and allow parts of it to dry. I created these for my hubby on our last anniversary (and he loves them!).

I had recently gotten a wood burning kit and wanted to use it for my gifts. I knew what I wanted to make, but I wanted a unique way for the photo transfer to wood. I didn’t want to simply glue the photos or mod podge over them.

I wanted to transfer the photos not place them. I found some instructions for a way to do so with gel medium and went directly to Michaels for the supplies.

Supplies Needed for Photo Transfer to Wood:

  • Matte Gel Medium (found in with the acrylic paints)
  • Wood plaque, or box
  • Paint brush
  • Cloth (a rag of sorts as it won’t be usable for other things again)
  • Clear coat of your choice (mod podge, lacquer, or a spray clear coat)
  • Laser print (color if you want your images in color)

Optional: A wood burning kit to decorate the rest of the wooden object.


  1. Choose your picture and print it on a laser printer. It MUST be a laser printer or this process will not work. Keep in mind the image will be mirrored on the wood so if you want it in the exact way you see it you will have to reverse the image before printing.
  2. Cut the image out from the paper. Paint a thin layer of the gel medium onto your picture. place it on the desired piece of wood. Make sure it is where you want the final picture to be.
  3. Flatten out the image. Use something like a ruler or a credit card to make sure it is completely flat on the surface.
  4. Let it dry for at least 8 hours.
  5. Get your rag and wet it. Ring out the excess water we don’t want it dripping wet. Place the cloth over the image completely. Make sure the entire picture is completely wet.
  6. Once the picture is soaked get comfy because this part is time consuming. Use your fingers to gently rub the wet white paper fibres (which should be sort of fuzzy at this point). If you want a more distressed look use a rag to rub off the paper.
  7. Let it dry a bit after rubbing off a layer of the paper fibre. As it dries you will see the left over fibres. Wet it again and start rubbing. Repeat this until the dried image looks the way you want.
  8. Once you are happy, spray it with your clear coat. Only spray the picture if you plan to wood burn around it (burning clear coat isn’t a healthy option).

You can use this on any wood surfaces. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a wooden coffee table full of photo transfers to wood!