DIY Double Whammy

Ooooh lucky you!! Today I am going to give you a double whammy DIY!! What? Two? Could it be? Oh yes it could! I’d love to show you how to take a plain wooden ‘thingy’ (yes this is the technical term here because I don’t know where to find another one of these babies pictured above, so you can use any old untreated piece of wood or wooden thingy!) and make it look aged with a graphic or words on it. How does that sound? Lets get to it then!

What you will need:

  • wooden thingy
  • freezer paper
  • card stock
  • glue stick
  • spoon
  • 2 paint brushes (foam or bristle)
  • computer/printer
  • rag

Stain (optional)

  • black tea bags (2-3)
  • a piece of steel wool
  • vinegar
  • 2 jars

Ok! Part one of this DIY is optional. If you want to use stain in your preferred look go for it, but if you are looking for a cheap, nontoxic (I believe? I should look into that… I don’t get dizzy inhaling so I just assume — wink) alternative to stain. This needs to be done ahead of time if you would like to use it for the next part of the project.

First you pull apart your steel wool and place it in a jar and pour vinegar over it until covered. Cover and set aside for a few days. I used regular vinegar, but I have heard that apple cider will give a darker tint. After a few days It will look like some pretty form of this. The vinegar actually eats away at the fibers until they are gone!


You can make the tea ahead of time as well, but you can also make it the day of if you would like. Place 2-3 tea bags (I used black tea for darker tinting, but you can use whatever you have) into the second jar, cover with hot water and let steep. When you have a strong jar of tea you can toss the bags.


Now your ‘stain’ is ready! How crazy is that? You made stain!

So apparently a compound in tea, called tannin, reacts with the vinegar to cause a more aged look. Want more info on it? Google it, it is real!

The first step is to brush on the tea mixture and let it completely dry. You won’t see much of a change in color. Just wait.


(not much change in the wood but love the photo bomb by Jed!)

When that mixture has fully dried, brush on the vinegar mixture and watch the magic happen!

You can cover it in a second coat of vinegar once the first is dry if you want, the desired look is all up to you!


If you were just looking to age the wooden thingy you had your work here is done! Great job trying something new!


(Here is the difference in the stain versus no stain. Different woods will bring on different tones.)

Onto the second portion of this fun project! It is transfer time!

First you need to select the graphic or word(s) you would like on your project. If you just want a word, create one in your computer’s word processor choosing the font and size you want. If you would like an old graphic like the one used in the after photo the is a great place to find them and learn more about projects using them! After you have selected the graphic you can choose to flip it so it is backwards/reversed for printing. Like this:


Once you have decided on your print, grab your card stock and run the glue stick all over it, especially concentrating on the edge that will go into the printer. Place a sheet of freezer paper shiny side UP on to the gluey card stock and rub thoroughly until nice and flat, without bubbles. Cut the excess of the freezer paper off along the card stock edges and you are ready to print!

Place the freezer paper- card stock into the printer with the shiny freezer paper as the printed side (I want to say up but all printers are different) and head to your computer. If you haven’t already, when you click to print the graphic, make sure that you choose your computer/printer option of flipping the graphic. My computer has a box to check ‘flip horizontally’ in the printing options. If printed normally the graphic will be reversed when transferred — and we don’t want that!


(Here is what mine looks like… notice the checked flip box.)

After printing it, we move onto the transferring! Place your wooden thingy on a solid surface. Dampen your rag and brush it across the surface of the wood. The moisture will help the transferring, but you do not want it too wet or the transfer will blur.


Hover the graphic, print side down, above the wood and align it where you want it to be. Then gently place the print onto the dampened wood and hold firmly. It is vital that you not move the print once you have it placed or smudging will commence! Once it is firmly placed, keeping one hand on the print at all times to keep it from moving, take the back of the spoon curve and rub gently across the card stock. You can pull up a corner and see how the transfer is coming, but make sure to solidly have it in place with the spoonless hand first. If it is not transferring to your liking, use the edge of the spoon to rub gently but firmly across the back of the print.


(Notice in this posed photo I am not holding the paper down with my left hand thanks to needing to photo document this moment… NOT GOOD! Keep your other hand on the paper firmly until you are done… trust me.)

When you feel it has transferred to your liking, remove the print without rubbing it across the wood and behold your handiwork! However, once you have lifted and removed the print from the wood, it is nearly impossible to re-apply and add to the transfer again, so peek a couple of times and when you lift, commit to it! I am sure it will look fabulous! Understand that the desire of this type of project is a more weathered look, and you are working with wood grain, so don’t expect crisp lines and perfection. Perfection is highly over-rated by the way. Highly. I promise!


If you want you can take a fine grit sandpaper to the top, ever-so-gently, to make it look more worn. If you do this, make SURE the ink on your wood is DRY! Yep, I may know this tip from experience. You are welcome! You can also cover it (once dry) with a spray of poly or a coat of clear varnish, poly, mod podge or similar-type sealant.

And there you go! A two-for-one DIY-selfer! I hope you enjoy your finished product!!