How to Varnish a Photo Onto Wood

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Things You'll Need

  • Pre-sanded piece of wood

  • Laminating equipment

  • Photograph

  • Clear lacquer or varnish

  • Double-sided tape

  • Fine-bristled brush

Varnishing a photo onto wood is a simple craft that can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. For best results, use a traditional photo rather than a computer print-out, as the inks in print-outs may bleed or smudge. For a more rustic look, one may choose to use this process with untreated wood.


Step 1

Size the selected photograph to the selected piece of wood, trimming where necessary. Laminate the photo. This will protect it from potential scratches during the varnishing.

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Step 2

Select your varnish. Several different types are available at most hobby stores and include fast-drying, high gloss, matte finish and scratch-resistant.

Step 3

Affix your laminated photograph onto the wood in the desired position using a thin piece of double-sided tape. This will keep it from sliding over the wood during the varnishing process. A thin coat of household glue can substitute for double-sided tape if necessary, but you must wait for it to dry before proceeding with varnishing.


Step 4

Apply the varnish or lacquer with a fine-bristled brush, quickly coating the surface using long, even, vertical strokes from the top to the bottom of the wood. Spread the varnish or lacquer as evenly as possible, leaving no bubbles or bare spaces.

Step 5

Wait for the varnish to dry. Apply two more coats of varnish, waiting for each to dry before adding another.


If you cannot find appropriate varnish, you can make your own substitute by diluting plain white glue with water to help it spread smoothly and evenly. As with varnish, allow each separate layer to dry before adding another.


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