Printing on wood veneer

I’ve written before about transferring my inkjet images and designs to wood.  I’ve done some printing directly onto wood that I treated with Golden Paint’s Digital Grounds, but not much because I haven’t had great success finding veneer that’s flat enough to print.  I ordered some veneer online from Rockler, great price – but it was too warped to send safely through the printer, and although I found directions to flatten veneer, I just didn’t have the interest in doing that step on top of all of the others needed to get a good inkjet print. I have been using small flat pieces of the Rockler veneer to make wooden postcards using Transfer Artist Paper (TAP), more about that another day.  Oh, okay, here’s a photo of those wooden postcards – I will write a whole post about my process to make those soon.

Wood veneer postcards using TAP

Wood veneer postcards using TAP

So anyway, I had great hopes for the first inkjet-treated veneer that I’ve found, available through Cards of Wood, called SMartGRAIN™.  I was excited that it could go through the normal feed of my small printer.  Thicker wood veneer has to go through the straight path of my larger printer.  This veneer is thin enough to curl through the normal feed.   I got the starter kit from Cards of Wood.  Their price for the kit is $25 for 6 letter-sized sheets.  After that, you buy them by the sheet, and they’re $5.25 each.  They also paid the shipping for the sample kit, which was nice. For my first test, I chose an image that I thought would look good on wood, and one that I had printed on veneer that I coated with Digital Grounds, for comparison.  This is the original file for my Koi and Wisteria blended collage.

Koi and wisteria blend

Koi and wisteria blend

The image is abstract, but there are sharp elements, and I wanted to see whether the inkjet coating was of good enough quality to reproduce the sharpness.  This is the result on the new inkjet-treated product from Cards of Wood:

Koi wisteria collage on wood veneer

Koi wisteria collage on wood veneer

This is the same image printed on veneer that I coated with the clear gloss Digital Ground.

Koi wisteria collage on wood veneer treated with Digital Ground

Koi wisteria collage on wood veneer treated with Digital Ground

I much prefer the print that I made on the veneer that I treated with Digital Ground.  The detail is much better – part of the collage is a garland of wisteria blooms, and the Cards of Wood print is blurry, with no sharp detail.  The color of the Cards of Wood print is a bit brighter, and it’s close to the original image file, so that’s good.  I’m very finicky about detail and resolution in my prints, though — it’s very  important to me, and it shows how good the quality of the inkjet coating is. I should emphasize that I’ve printed on many unusual surfaces, and I never expect that a print on things other than paper will look the same as on good inkjet paper.  I do know that the color and grain of the wood will affect the quality of the print.  That’s why I did the comparison between the Digital Ground-treated print and the one on SMartGRAIN™ wood.   I’m not convinced that the Cards of Wood product is worth the money.  I will print the rest of the four sheets and let you know my final verdict.

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One comment on “Printing on wood veneer

  1. Pat (whyte) says:

    Heidi, wow, I think the “bad” one turned out fabulous! And I think you are really on to something! But I think the plain wood veneer came out brighter than the one treated with digital grounds, it looks great to me.

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