Essence of DIY: Easy Wood Transfer

Things have been so crazy this week prepping for our guests on Thursday that I didn’t even get to publish my weekly “A Few of My Favorite Things” on Monday! I decided we’ll save it for Thanksgiving morning, if that’s OK with you guys–so you’ll get a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday back-to-back-to-back posts this week, instead of Monday/Wednesday/Friday–are we cool?


I feel like this year I’ve really struggled with trying to figure out my Thanksgiving Day centerpieces. I was thinking I wanted to make wooden flower boxes and fill them with gourds and flowers, but let’s be honest: My carpentry skills are pretty sub-par. I have all these great ideas to make furniture and things, but I really don’t know how to use more than a screwdriver and a hammer…New Year resolutions?

Anyway, when Nicole and I went to the city for lunch last weekend, we stopped by the Brooklyn Flea, aka what I imagine heaven looks like, and one of our last stops was this cool booth with vintage crates and cheese boxes. Boom. The cheese boxes were well-made and the perfect size for sprucing up the tables. They won’t be in the way and will add a little oomph. It was the end of the day and I talked the dealer down on the price, taking three boxes off of her hands, but two of them were a little bland. The third was a vintage Cooper Sharp Cheddar box and is printed on all four sides, so I left it alone.

But the other two…


ZzZzZzZzZ…so I decided to get to work!

So many DIY transfers require a laser printer, which I don’t have and didn’t feel like purchasing, since my printer is perfectly serviceable (and also not even a year old), so I needed to find a transfer process that could be done with what I had. Alas! I discovered that if you use wax paper, freezer paper or the backing from label sheets, you can use an inkjet printer. Apparently if you use wax paper, there is a high probability of it jamming your printer, so if you want to test that out, be my guest, but I can’t say either way.

(If you fancy, here is a laser jet tutorial that has far more steps and requires a lot more work.)

I am not a graphic designer, nor do I play one on TV, so I decided to use my BFF Google, to help me find some cool logos, and then I transformed them in my other BFF, Photoshop. I found the logos here. All you have to do is sign up for their email list and they’re free to use! Try to keep your images at least 200 dpi or higher.

Boom. I chose the Pompadour and the Farm Fresh Chicken logos. It’s time to make our easy wood transfer!



Let’s make it!

  1. Open your image in Photoshop or Lightroom or whatever you prefer to use in order to edit.
  2. This is literally the most important step: Once you open your image, make sure you go to Image –> Image Rotation –> Flip Horizontal, or else your design will be backwards when you transfer it.
  3. Do whatever you want to manipulate the image further. I chose to make the rooster on the Farm Fresh Chicken box reddish, which definitely adds a little pizzazz.
  4. Sand your wood lightly with fine grit sandpaper to help the image transfer more clearly.
  5. Print your image on the shiny side of whatever medium you choose to print on–wax paper, freezer paper or an empty label sheet. I used the label sheets and they worked fine. I would recommend printing one image at a time, or else they do start to dry a little bit.
  6. Decide where you want the design, but don’t put it down until you’re sure.
  7. Once you’re ready, push the design into the wood with your fingers and then rub it vigorously. I also used the edge of a credit card for a little extra elbow grease.
  8. Peel back the paper, but don’t completely pick it up yet, and decide if you’ve got enough ink down on your wood.
  9. Boom. Let the ink dry and enjoy. I recommend sealing your designs with some clear satin lacquer so they don’t run or rinse off. If you decide you don’t like your design, or you mess up, you can always use some fine grit sandpaper to remove it and start over.

Print your design backwards.

Print your design backwards.


And transfer it!


TIP: I recommend not skipping the sanding step prior to transferring on your boxes. I skipped this step, but I was going for a more “vintage” look in my transfer, so not all of the ink transferred clearly.

Voilá! Enjoy your new DIY Wood Transfer and show me what you made! Stay tuned to see how I decorate these boxes for my Thanksgiving centerpieces!




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