Tiger Tailgate Table & Transfer Technique Tutorial

Ok, so I may have gone a little overboard with the triple ts, but it’s an homage to my alma mater, Clemson University, and our favorite watering hole. And that’s just how FREAKING excited I am about this post.

For you non-college football fans out there (first, what’s wrong with you?! … jk… sort of) college football kicks off THIS SATURDAY! And for you non-Clemson fans (again, maybe you should see someone about this… it’s a problem.) the Tigers have a BIG first game against Georgia. Everyyyyone is going to be there, so it really ups the tailgate anty. I knew I had to come up with something special for the occasion.

After a few days of work… enter, Tiger Tailgate Table. It’s hand painted with a chalkboard top, so you can label your food and booze er, beverages or play tailgate games.




So now that I’ve shown off what is probably my favorite piece ever ($10 table + $3 paint sample = not too shabby) I will give you the details on how I got the look, specifically how I transfer the letters for tracing (hint: my handwriting is not actually that nice).

Oh, and disclaimer– if you were a fellow sorority girl Greek woman at Clemson then you can stop reading now. You are probably already a master of this trick- one that’s been handed down from sister to sister to assist in the age old tradition of fraternity cooler painting. 

For the rest of you- here is what you need:

  • a print out of the design or text you want on your piece (preferably a reverse image)
  • a no. 2 pencil (no, you aren’t taking a test… don’t worry.)
  • a pencil sharpener (because this will wear your pencil down. I didn’t have one handy so I used my eyeliner sharpener… you gotta do what you gotta do.)


Note: Color doesn’t matter. I used red because my black was running low.

1.) Print your image the size you want it and gather your supplies.

2.) Use your pencil to trace the design on your paper, completely coloring in any thick lines or dark spots.

NOTE: If you have a reverse image printed, great, you get to color right on the ink side of your print out, making it a tad easier. If you didn’t print a reverse image, you are going to color/trace on the BACK of your page, just a little harder since you will be trying to see through the page. I didn’t have a reverse print, so that’s what I did. 



See what I mean? No reverse print- color on the back. Reverse print- color on the front.

Once you have traced your whole design (this can be tedious) you want to put your paper PENCIL SIDE DOWN on your piece- wherever you want the design or text to go.

Then you are going to rub on the opposite/not already penciled side with your pencil. You just have to make sure you scribble all over the part you penciled on the opposite side.


This is going to rub the pencil dust from your original tracing onto the piece in the design you want.


Do that over the back side of your whole design.



Then go over it with your paint, chalk, marker, whatever of choice. I use paint pens for detailed stuff like this.

And then you’ve got your hand painted, yet doesn’t look like a 5 year-old did it, text or design. 🙂


Other project notes:

  • I primed before painting the legs and the chalkboard top.
  • The chalkboard top got 3 coats before it was nice and even.
  • I protected the text with a thick coat of Modge Podge.
  • Before you write on chalkboard paint, you have to lay a piece of chalk on its side and cover the whole thing with dust. Wipe it off and it’s ready to write.
  • I used Behr “Startling Orange” on the legs. With a bold color like this I recommend a tinted primer. I still have some white showing through after like 4 coats.
  • The fonts on the table are from dafont.com. The print is Traveling Typewriter and the script is Chalk Hand Lettering Shaded. I love using fonts from this site, it gives all projects a more custom look.

Let me know what you think, if you have any questions or if my tutorial was unclear! (And most importantly who you are pulling for!)

And, oh yeah, GO TIGERS!!!!

PS: Julie from Follow Your Heart Woodworking has a great post on saving ink when doing projects like this! Check it out! I will definitely do this from now on! Thanks, Julie!

13 thoughts on “Tiger Tailgate Table & Transfer Technique Tutorial

  1. So cute and creative. I use that transfer method a lot and it works great. That table can be adapted to any entertaining. Yay for college football starting and college game day! I’m from TX, graduated from TX A&M, so yes it’s a BIG deal.

  2. Pingback: $5 French Chic Coffee Table | Figuring Out Fabulous

  3. Pingback: Table Top Turned Chalkboard | Figuring Out Fabulous

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