Sublimation on wood is a fantastic time-saving hack for wooden décor. Tell your paints, stencils, and hours of time to move over because this is significantly faster and a great method to transfer intricate and multicolor designs to wood. Sublimation allows you to print the design that you’d like on a sublimation printer and then transfer the ink into a polyurethane coating on the wood with heat and pressure. The result is this beautiful, vibrant design!
I’m using an Epson WF7720 printer that I converted to sublimation ink earlier this summer. I’ve been having a lot of fun learning how to do various sublimation projects, and this wood project is high on the list of favorites. I think this opens up a lot of possibilities for different holiday décor and easily personalized items. Imagine stenciling and painting some of these! It would take days! Let’s dive into how to do sublimation on wood.
Equipment and Materials
* A note on the blanks: The thickness is dependent on your heat press. I have a clamshell heat press so I’m using 1/8″ thick blanks. I’d also like to try 1/4″ blanks. Swing away presses will allow for thicker wood blanks.
Sublimation on Wood
Step 1: Prepare Wood Blank
If you’re painting it, sand and paint it and let it dry between coats. After the final coat is dry, lightly apply Polycrylic and then lightly sand again. Wipe it clean. Allow it to cure for a few hours to over night.
Step 2: Print Design on Sublimation Paper
Size your design to fit your blank, but if you have a background pattern, make sure that the background goes slightly beyond your blank size so you get full coverage. *Mirror* your chosen design and print it on sublimation transfer paper. For the Epson WF 7720, I’m using the High Quality Plain Paper setting in the Printing Preferences menu. I’m using Cosmos Ink in my printer so I also go into the “More Options” tab of the Printing Preferences menu and under “Color Correction,” I select “Custom” and then hit the “Advanced…” button. On this menu, I select “ICM” for the Color Management setting. Hit OK and print your design.
Remember that it will be dull out of the printer and will become vibrant after pressing. I also changed the print quality to High because my first print had lines through it. If this is happening to you, the printer may be printing too quickly for a quality print.
For more details, I created a post with all of my favorite settings for color management, paper type, paper weight, quality, and speed for successful printing from Silhouette Studio. Check that out here!
Step 3: Prepare Wood Blank and Transfer
Cut your design out a little larger than your blank. My blanks are 5″ x 5″ so I cut out the design at about 5.25″ x 5.25″. Line it up with your blank and use heat resistant tape to secure it on. You want to make sure that there aren’t gaps or wrinkles so the general rule of thumb is to always use more tape than you think.
Step 4: Heat Press Sublimation on Wood
Preheat your press to 385F. Put a layer of butcher paper under your design and have another one to go on top to absorb any excess ink so it doesn’t transfer to future pressed projects. Press your blank with medium pressure for 60 seconds. Remove the transfer paper. Isn’t that beautiful??
There may be some transfer paper that sticks to the wood. Use a sponge with water to gently rub off the paper. This tends to happen more when the Polycrylic hasn’t cured overnight. You can also add another layer of Polycrylic to seal the design. I also noticed that my painted blanks don’t look as vibrant as the plain wood blanks. I will sand more aggressively next time, and I may also switch to an acrylic white paint instead of the chalk white paint. I’ll post an update when I experiment!
Update: Check out this post for Sublimation on Painted Wood and get your 220 grit sand paper ready!
Just think of the possibilities with this! You can also get wood round blanks to make the trending door hangers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions!
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