Learn how to create this unique handmade DIY Father’s Day gift for dad’s special day! Most fathers love a personal gift including their children’s photos.
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Transferring pictures to wood is a simple process, if you have the right method. I’ve spent the last two weeks trying every image transfer method for wood that I could find. After a lot of trial and error, I think this method yields the most consistent quality image transfers to wood. I’m hoping to write a full tutorial on the different transfer methods soon. This tutorial uses 5 X 7 laser prints on copy paper.
The three frames are attached with two hinges. Let me show you the process.
- 1 X 6 PINE BOARD (CUT IN 7.25″ LONG PIECES)
- 5 X 7 COLOR PRINTS (OFFICEMAX PRINTS THEM FOR JUST OVER A DOLLAR EACH ON PLAIN PAPER)
- PAINT BRUSH
- SANDING SPONGE
- HINGES (2.9 INCHES LONG)
- SPRAY ON TOP COAT
- VINYL FOR “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY” SAYING
- SILHOUETTE CAMEO (TO CUT VINYL)
- BONDO SPREADER OR PUTTY KNIFE
TEAR THE EDGES OF THE PICTURES
I found the easiest way to tear the edges of the photos is to hold a plastic putty knife along where you want the paper to tear. Place the photo face down on your work surface. Begin tearing one edge of the photo while rocking the tear strip left and right. The scraper prevents the paper from tearing too far into the picture.
It’s important to place the photo face down so the raw edge of the paper is facing up after tearing it. This will allow the paper to release easier from the Polycrylic later.
Repeat the process on all four edges of the photo. Flip your picture over and remove any bits of white that you may have missed.
HOW TO TRANSFER PICTURES TO WOOD
Using a paint brush or foam roller, apply a thin layer of Polycrylic to the surface of your wood. I tried Modge Podge and it doesn’t work as well. This may be because it is much thicker than the Polycrylic.
Once you have a thin, even coat of Polycrylic on the surface of your wood, align your photo above the wood and press it into place. You don’t want to slide or move your image around at this point. Hold your photo in place and run your fingers along the back and smooth it out.
Next, use your plastic putty knife to work out any air bubbles. Hold your photo firmly in place with two fingers, then slide your plastic spreader across the back side of the photo. Work from the middle out towards the edges.
Since there is Polycrylic along the edges, I ran the putty knife all the way off of the board. Then I wiped the extra Polycrylic off of the edge with a paper towel and worked in another direction. Repeat this until you have smoothed the entire surface. Check the edges of your wood for runs and wipe them with a paper towel.
Next, roll a brayer accross the back of the picture. These two steps help ensure good adhesion of the photo and remove any air bubbles. You will want to wash your putty knife and brayer with warm soapy water after this step.
Next, using a blow dryer or heat gun, dry the surface for about two minutes. Then set your board aside for an hour to finish drying. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s best to leave them over night.
Once the image is dry, gather a small container of water and a stiff bristle toothbrush. Using the toothbrush, wet the back of the paper until the image evenly shows through.
Once the paper is wet, move the toothbrush over the paper in a circular motion. The paper will begin to lift and ball up. Keep a folded paper towel to one side of your project, so you can slide the wet paper onto it for easy disposal.
Continue this process until almost all of the paper is removed from the surface. Note: Don’t press too hard with the toothbrush as this can remove bits of your image. Just apply light, even pressure in a circular motion. This process looks complicated, but it took less than 5 minutes to remove the paper.
When all of the paper is removed, wipe the wood board down with a dry paper towel. When the picture begins to dry, it will appear a little foggy. This is normal. You will want to apply another coat of Polycrylic over the image and it will clear the image and brighten the colors.
Once the Polycrylic is dry over the image, coat the edges and back of the wood with the Polycrylic. I recommend two coats.
To speed things up, I took it outside and sprayed the edges and back with 3 coats of Rustoleum Satin Clear instead of brushing on the Polycrylic.
ATTACH THE HARDWARE TO COMBINE YOUR WOOD PRINTS TOGETHER
Lay your boards picture side up, in a row. With a slight gap in between the boards.
Take a close look at your hinges. When folded in one direction, the hinges will close all the way. When folded in the other direction, the hinge will stay open. See the image below.
When completed, you want the hinge completely closed in between your boards.
Flip your first board on its end, so the right side of the board is facing up. Mark a center line exactly in the middle of the board. Take all of your measurements from the bottom edge on all three boards for consistancy.
Next, for measurement purposes, fold your hinge outward, so the hinge is protruding out. Line the center hole of the hinge up on the center line of the board. With the hinge pressed tightly to the face (picture side of the board) mark your three holes with a pencil.
Then, turn your second board on it’s left edge and repeat the process. Your holes should always be towards the picture side of the board. See the image below.
Then repeat the markings on the right side of the middle board and the left side of the last board.
Choose a drill bit that is smaller than the screw for your hinge. Place the bit in the drill so it is the proper depth for the screw.
Using your pencil marks, drill your pilot holes.
Then add your screws from the back side of your project using a Phillips screwdriver. See the image below.
When complete, add your vinyl to the bottom of the center board. I chose Happy Father’s Day, 2020. This file has been added to the free library. For access to my free library, subscribe at the bottom of this post.
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Hopefully this DIY Father’s Day gift idea gives you some inspiration for your own image transfer project!