Free Printables, Houseware Crafts, Tips and Resources, Tutorials, Uncategorized

Yardstick Tray and an Easy Image Transfer Tutorial

Easy Image Transfer on WoodOK, I realize, this project sorta falls under the  “yes you CAN do that but..why?” category.

And I wouldn’t argue too much with that.


I have my reasons.

OK, to start at the beginning.

My sister who was either trying to inspire me or make me insane pinned  this terrific project from Betsy at My Salvaged Treasures  to our shared Pinterest board.tray tutorial from My Salvaged TrasuresLike all of her stuff it’s super cool and very creative.  And, of course, I immediately HAD to make one.

Stumbling block?  Not enough yardsticks.

And unfortunately, I live in an area where anything remotely inexpensive, cool and popular instantly goes from affordable to crazy.  So old, beat up yardsticks in LA cost $12 each which sorta takes the fun out of it.


I had just learned a new image transfer technique via The Oracle at Delphi The Graphics Fairy.  It’s quick, easy, pretty affordable and GREATLY lessens the chance of me burning down my house!

I’d tried it on my new, stained, candle holders and it worked greatTea Light Holder by Cheltenham Roadand I wanted to try it out on a painted surface so why not make my own yardsticks?

Here is what I used

  • 5″ Poplar craft wood from Lowes 2 pieces 16″ long and two pices 11.5″ long
  • 1/4″ MDF for the base A piece of 1/4″ MDF cut to 16×11
  • a section of metal roof flashing (also from Lowes)
  • E6000 Glue
  • Red craft paint
  • Wood stain
  • A scan of a yardstick
  • Polycrylic
  • Wood glue
  • Metal shears
  • Pin Nailer (not absolutely necessary)

I painted the craft wood with some slightly watered down red craft paint and then, when it dried, I went over it lightly with a bit of wood stain just to give it an aged look.  Here is the before and after.Painted Slats for DIY Ruler Tray

A light sanding blended the two even better.

I then cut my roof flashing to size and, using the E6000 glued it to my MDF base.Image Transfer and a Rustic Ruler Tray by Cheltenham Road

I scanned the yardstick that I had and, using Photoshop removed everything but the numbers.  Then, for fun, I added my own text.  RULER NO BACKGROUND 4TH STREET MASTER

Here is the blank version if you’re keen on doing something similar.  Just right-click to download the high res version

ruler no background appliances

I reversed it and printed it out on legal sized paper using my laser printer

Now the new transfer technique.

It’s the same as all the other ones except you use PolycrylicPolycrylic

You simply brush on the PolycrylicImage Transfer Technique Using Polycrylic by Cheltenham Road

Lay your image downEasy image transfer to wood technique by Cheltenham Road

Use a roller or an old credit card or whatever to smooth out and get a good seal between the paper and the wood, and set it aside to dry.

It’s sunny and hot here so I just left it outside for 3 hours.

Then you just use a damp towel and rub away the paper to reveal the image (I forgot to take a picture of that part.  Trust me.  It’s just like all the other wet paper rubbing I’ve done.  Like this)Image Transfer using Wall Lenk Tool

After that  I just glued and pin-nailed my sides into place around the base and gave the “yardstick” a sealing coat of Polycrylic and I was done.DIY Yardstick Tray by Cheltenham Road

So, I know what you’re thinking.

“You just went through all that to make….a yarrstick?  I mean, it looks exactly like a yardstick.  You just made something you can buy.  Your sister has succeeded.  You’re insane”Image Transfer Yardstick Tutorial by Cheltenham Road

And you are correct.


This told me that the transfer technique works great on painted surfaces.

AND I am no longer subject to the tyranny of the Yardstick Pickers of Los Angeles.  HA!!! I can make my own yardsticks and I can make them say whatever I want them to say and I  can make them whatever color suits me!Image Transfer Technique Tutorial by Cheltenham Road

See?  Victory!

Actually, I just like that I have another easy  technique in my arsenal for image transfer.   Polycrylic is readily available and pretty affordable (you don’t use much) and it really allows the wood to show through.  This could be used for any kind of graphic transfer and, trust me, I have a lot more ideas coming down the line with this technique.


18 thoughts on “Yardstick Tray and an Easy Image Transfer Tutorial”

  1. ‘HA!!! I can make my own yardsticks and I can make them say whatever I want them to say and I can make them whatever color suits me!’

    David, you forgot…’So THERE.plplplplplplp! (With plenty of saliva). Just sayin’. That transfer method is pretty nifty.

  2. i think this is way cool, and the transfer message can be used on so many things you do inspire and make me laugh too and in this crazy ass world that is something to be proud of xx

  3. David–you are F U N N Y! Your yardsticks look pretty real, and I’ve made my own style of yardstick trays too—but I think I’ll still buy the real McCoy! Fortunately, around here they’re still “reasonable.” I’m iso old screen door handles for varying things and THEY have gone ca’rAzy in pricing those now (sob-sob).
    BUT David–I’m trying your method on something else–looks amazing!!!

  4. Yardsticks here are even more than $12 if’in you can find one! I think it’s fabulous how you made your own and the idea you can personalize it to your own city, store, etc. is way cool. Polycrylic, really? How did you figure that out, spill it on something? I must try that out!

    1. Yikes! I thought it was bad here.
      All credit for the polycrylic idea goes to the Graphics Fairy as the source and the gentleman who made the video she posted as the genius.

  5. What a great way to transfer images. Now I don’t have to go buy a Lenk tool and possibly burn my apartment down!!

  6. Have you thought of making “old” yardsticks to sell for $11?? You might make a killing! 🙂 Great project, good tip on the polycrylic; I’ll have to check Home Depot for that.

  7. I want to put a final finish over the transferred graphic. Can I put another coat or two of satin poly over it, or will it make the graphic run? How about poly over regular acrylic craft paint? will it run? (both water base…) Thanks for your help-and humor!

    1. Hi Debbi. Yes, the transfer is quite durable so you can use Polycrylic to seal the images. As far as poly over craft paint I have never encountered a problem BUT there are, of course hundreds of different kinds of craft paint so if you’re concerned I’d do a tester piece first. Hope that helps. Would love to see your project if you happen to snap a pic!

  8. how does this process work or look on rough saw wood like pallet wood or old barn wood? Does the image come out ok or does it have to be completely flat smooth wood to get a good transfer? i dont mind a bit of a distressed look but overall i would like the transfer to be 95% there.

    1. I haven’t tried it on pallet-ish wood but it’s worth a shot. I would suggest that you for sure use a breyer and press hard when you are adhering the image to the wood to get the maximum surface-to-surface contact. It will definitely come out distressed but it might look great. The only real problem I have with this technique sometimes is that the graphic transfers too well and I end up having to go back in in and distress it later. It’s such an easy process you could do a test version without being out too much in materials or time. Let me know how it goes!

    1. I confess I’ve never tried it using anything other than plain old copy paper. If I had to hazard a guess I would say that the method of printing is more important than the medium it is printed on. If your print is laser/toner based (rather thank ink) it’s definitely worth a try. Sorry not to be more definitive but if you try it please do let me know what the result is.

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