DIY Pet Memorial Photo Bench

Build a Pet Memorial Bench that incorporates your pet's photo. Easy weekend project.
One of our Golden Retrievers, Scooby, died from cancer back in April of 2012, right before he would have turned 11 years of age. We buried him at the back of our property and ever since then I have been meaning to turn the area he is buried into a pet memorial garden. I have been planning to purchase some kind of stone or statue to put over his grave, but just could not decide on one, plus they were all really expensive. Recently we had a close call with our remaining Golden Retriever, who is 14 years old, and I thought we would be burying her next to Scooby (you can read about that story here). Luckily, her health issues ended up being fixable (for a small fortune…) so she is still with us. But it reminded me that I had yet to make a decision as to how to mark Scooby’s grave.
Instead of buying something to mark his grave, I decided to make something. I would like to plant some nice flowers in the area to create a small memorial garden and figured a bench would be perfect idea for the memorial garden. Back at Christmastime, I found instructions (through Pinterest, of course!) showing how to transfer photos onto wood. So, I decided a wood bench with Scooby’s photo and dates of life would be perfect.
Here are the supplies needed to make this bench:
1 – 1x12x4 (for picture and wording)
3 – 1x4x8
3 – 2x4x8
2 1/2″ pocket hole screws
3 1/2″ exterior wood screws
2 1/2″ exterior wood screws
Kreg Jig (pocket hole jig)
counter sink drill bit
Liquitex Gel Medium (for photo transfer)
Mod Podge
Foam brushes
Outdoor wood varnish
First, you’ll need to transfer the photo and any wording onto wood. I used PicMonkey to create the photo with the “Forever in our Hearts” message on it, and then I used Microsoft Word to create the name with the paw prints and the dates of life.
Once you have your photos and wording ready, you’ll need to print them reversed on a laser printer (inkjet image will smear with the process, you must use a laser printer). You will also need to make sure the photo and wording fit well on a 1×12 piece of wood that will be cut to 13 7/8″ in length. I printed the main picture on a 8 1/2″ x 11″ full sheet of paper, then I made sure the lettering wouldn’t make the full image longer than 13 7/8″.
Photo and wording printed in reverse
You’ll need the following items to create the wood transfer:
reverse print pictures and wording
1×12 board
foam brush
Liquitex Gel Medium
Mod Podge
Items needed to transfer photo onto wood.
First, using the foam brush, spread an even, but somewhat thick layer of the Liquitex Gel Medium onto the area of the board your photo and wording will be transferred to. Place the pictures and wording face down onto the gel medium on the board. Use a plastic card, such as a credit card or gift card to remove all the air bubbles from under the photo.
Use foam brush to apply Mod Podge to board.
Use a plastic card to remove air bubbles
Now let the board with the photos sit overnight. After the gel medium has dried overnight, take a very damp towel and lay it over the pictures on the board for several minutes (until you can easily see the image underneath).
Lay a wet towel over the images on the board.
Once you can clearly see the image through the paper, you can remove the towel.
Remove towel once image is visible
Using your finger, begin gently rubbing off the paper from the image on the wood. Continue doing this until all the paper is removed. Rub gently, if you rub too hard the image will be removed as well.
Use your finger to gently rub away the paper
Once all the paper has been removed, let the wood dry and then apply a layer of Mod Podge over the image to protect it during the bench building process.
Apply Mod Podge over image
Once the Mod Podge has dried, cut the 1×12 board with the image to 13 7/8″ in length using a miter saw or table saw.
Next, time to build the bench! Here are the cuts you’ll need to make for the bench:
4 – 2×4 @ 16 1/2″ (legs)
2 – 2×4 @ 46″ (front and back of the frame)
5 – 2×4 @ 12″ (left and right frame pieces and center supports)
1 – 1×4 @ 49 7/8″ (bench top)
8 – 1×4 @ 19 1/4″ (bench top)
1 – 1×12 @ 13 7/8″ (photo board that was cut in step above)
First, build the frame. Using the Kreg Jig, drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of one of the sides of each of the 5 2x4x12″ boards. (If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, you can instead attach the boards using 2 1/2″ exterior wood screws, predrilled with a countersink bit).
Pocket holes drilled into each end of boards.
Use wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws to attach the 2x4x12 boards to the 2x4x46″ boards. Two boards attach at each end of the 46″ boards, and the three remaining 12″ boards are evenly spaced between them.
Begin building frame
Using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws, attach the 2x4x12″ boards to the 2x4x46″ boards. Evenly Space the remaining three 12″ boards in between two end boards.
Completed frame
Next, attach the legs(the four 2x4x16 1/2″ boards) to the inside of the frame using wood glue and 2 1/2″ wood screws. Predrill with a countersink bit. Once all four legs are attached, place the frame on the legs so it is standing on all four legs.
Attach legs
Now for the top! Mark the center line of your bench and mark the center line of your 1x12x13 7/8 board with the picture on it. Align the middle of the photo board with the middle of the bench frame. Make sure the photo board hangs off the top edge of the frame by 1″. Attach the photo board with wood glue and 3 1/2″ exterior wood screws (predrill with a countersink bit). The screws will be attached through the bottom of the frame up through the 2×4 pieces into the 1×2 boards that make up the bench top.
Next align the eight 1x4x19 1/4″ boards on each side of the photo board, four boards on each side. The boards should evenly line up with the top and bottom of the photo board. Attach with wood glue and 3 1/2″ wood screws, predrilled with countersink bit from underneath. Lastly, attach the 1x4x49 7/8″ board with wood glue and 3 1/2″ wood screws (predrill with a countersink bit from underneath) as the final front piece on top of the bench.
Assembled top
Coat the bench in at least three coats of Varathane Outdoor Spar Urethane. I would recommend more than three coats to help protect the image on the wood from UV light and rain.
Here is a pic the finished bench. (For more pictures, see the link below).
Completed pet memorial bench.

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Pinspired to DIY

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Alisa
    on May 8, 2017

    Thank you for this wonderful suggestion... I'm wondering, do I need to use photo paper or regular copy paper for the photo and words/paw prints? TIA,

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2 of 40 comments
  • Itsmemic
    on Mar 31, 2018

    very nice way to honor Scoobs. I am not all that talented in the carpentry area. But I have the perfect bench to do this..but I will not even TRY the never worked for me :) I will just modpodge a photo to the wood, then more on top..then poly the whole thing...layers. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Tracie
    on Apr 3, 2019

    Thanks for the great idea! I built the bench yesterday and finished the photo transfer today. It is a fitting tribute to an old and faithful friend.

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