DIY a wooden sign using freezer paper to transfer your design to wood and get that handmade vintage feel in your home WITHOUT having to learn time-consuming methods!
First I want to thank Kaylee White, who brought this tutorial idea to my attention, and for providing the images and intro here:
Arts and crafts projects can be intimidating to people who don’t feel that they have are creatively inclined. But we all have some creativity in us, and can all accomplish some do-it-yourself projects if we all have a little guidance. And it can be good to take a trend and imitate it for your own home.
Take wood signs: They’re rustic and interesting and actually easy to make — you don’t even need to have any particular lettering talent. And the supplies you need not anything out of the ordinary, or even that expensive. The one thing that you do need is a printer — but the rest you might be able to find around the house.
It starts with freezer paper, a ruler and scissors, and an image. For that, you can look to the internet for all sorts of inspiration. And once you’ve done the whole process, you can put different effects into action to make the wood look different, distressed, or even colored. This graphic explains it.
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The full article that explains in depth how it all comes together! You’ll want to refer to it to get all of the steps down pat; but I have paraphrased in my own words the “nitty gritty” of it.
To get started mastering the freezer paper transfer to wood, you’ll need a few straightforward items you may already have access to, like a printer (Note: it MUST be inkjet ; not laser type – something about the freezer paper potentially being a fire hazard!)
Also: freezer paper, coarse grit sandpaper, printer paper, scissors (or a paper cutter), painter’s tape, a ruler, and clear varnish or sealant.
And last but not least, a piece of unfinished wood. You may have some laying around that is just the right size or you can check your local craft/hobby venue for a good piece.
According to the author, Laura Newcomer, you can also use transparency paper (and some people who have tried this approach say it has worked as well as freezer paper.)
💻 Creating the Graphic
For this, you’ll need to have access to a solid graphic program like Photoshop, MS Paint, Illustrator, Corel Draw, or a similar one that you can do basic design in 😁.
Proceed as you normally would with creating a new design when prompted, choose layout (portrait or landscape), size (8.5 by 11 is good) name your file.
Start work on your message – it can be inspirational, funny, cute, sentimental, you name it. You can use a good quote you heard somewhere, anything that puts you in good spirits.
Whatever you come up with, when you have your quote in the colors and fonts of your choosing, use the “Mirror” function to flip the message in reverse, so it appears backwards.
Preparing the Wood and Paper
Make sure to sand the piece of wood so the ink will be able to stick to it well. Use one of those computer dusters to blow off the dust left behind.
Measure and cut a piece of freezer or transparency paper to a standard letter (A4) size…which is pretty much what most standard printer paper measures too.
Apparently, freezer paper has a shiny side…place your trimmed sheet shiny side up over the piece of printer paper and secure it with some painter’s tape.
Printing the Image
Now we come to the printing part! Take your sheet of freezer paper and feed it into the slot correctly so that it will print out shiny side up (this usually means feeding it upside down).
If you’re unsure, it may be a good idea to do a test print on another sheet of printer paper first. Be sure to do something like draw a mark on one side so you know which way it should be fed through. Alternately; if you are using transparency paper just feed it on through.
Check your finished job to see how well it turned out! If it looks good, now you’re going to take it and apply it to the piece of wood.
Transferring the Image to the Wood
Place your image ink side down. To make sure it doesn’t get out of place or smudge, you may want to get some painter’s tape and secure the perimeter of the printed message down so no accidental “oopsies” happen.
Get a smooth firm object…I have one of those clay rollers I use for rolling out a slab of clay flat….that would work very well for this. Press down firmly all over the taped message.
You may want to roll/run over it a few times to be sure it will make its mark well. Now slowly peel back the printed message to reveal its imprint on the wood. How’s it looking??
Protecting Your Finished Wooden Sign
When you are pleased with your design, let it dry….apply a coat of sealant, clear polyurethane, etc., over it to preserve your work. A lot of people like to showcase their signs outdoors …this will give an extra layer of protection against the elements!
Helpful Transferring Tips
The author includes some tips for altering the appearance of the message, or what to do if it didn’t turn out well at first:
👉 You may want to practice this technique first on a less desirable scrap of wood to be sure you’ve got the hang of it.
👉 You can use a little water to make the letters appear lighter; just not too much water as it might make the ink run.
👉 If you’d like to give the message a more vintage, rustic or distressed look, sand the letters with a piece of fine grit sandpaper.
If your sign is a little on the big side (like, 15″ by 20″ or something),you could break the message down and print it in two or three parts …or you could create embellishments, like hearts, stars, or other designs, and follow the same technique, saving it and printing it using steps 1 through 6.
Now you know all the in’s and out’s of using freezer paper to transfer your image to wood and create an AMAZING piece of art to hang in your kitchen, living or family room! Have fun with this – I know I’ve collected my share of wood scraps over the years; I want to try this out sometime.