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How to Cut Lino For Printing

Equipment Needed

Lino Cutter

Lino cutter to carve the design.

Utility Knife

Use a utility knife to cut small areas.

Now you’re prepared to carve the lino. Please note, art-grade lino is easier to work with compared to floor lino. The process of linocutting, an essential step in creating a linocut print, involves a few key techniques and considerations.

Firstly, you need to ensure your design is already transferred onto the linoleum block. Then, using specialised tools like gouges and linocut chisels, you begin the meticulous process of carving out your design. The aim is to remove the areas of the linoleum that you don’t want to receive ink (known as the ‘negative space’ or white areas of your design where the paper is not printed with ink).

It’s important to carve in the direction away from your body for safety, and to maintain a steady hand for precision. The depth and angle of your cuts will influence the texture and detail in your final print. This step requires a blend of artistic vision and careful craftsmanship, as every cut will directly affect how your design will appear once inked and pressed onto paper. Remember, the uncarved, raised areas will form the printed image, so it’s crucial to consider carefully which parts of your linoleum to carve away.

Designing and cutting linocut with Pfeil Lino Cutting Tools

Tips for Carving Your Lino:

  1. Always carve away from yourself when working on your lino print. This helps prevent accidents should the tool slip. It’s prudent to have a first aid kit nearby, just in case.
  2. Begin with small, shallow incisions until you become more accustomed to the carving process.
  3. Lino varies in type: while some are soft and malleable, others can be tougher and may require heating before carving.
  4. Ensure all the carved-out lino bits are thoroughly cleared away.

Additional Tips for Carving Your Lino:

  1. Sharp Tools are Essential: Ensure your cutting tools are always sharp. A dull tool requires more force, making it harder to control and increasing the risk of accidents.
  2. Test Cuts: Before diving into your main design, make some test cuts on a scrap piece of lino. This allows you to understand the material’s resistance and how your tools interact with it.
  3. Use a Bench Hook: A bench hook is a tool that can help secure the lino block while you carve, preventing it from slipping.
  4. Lino Quality: Always invest in good quality lino. Cheaper alternatives may crumble or be inconsistent in texture, making them difficult to carve.
  5. Varying Tool Sizes: Different parts of your design may require different tool sizes. It’s beneficial to have a variety of cutting tools on hand to accommodate both large areas and fine details.
  6. Avoid Over-Carving: Be cautious not to carve too deeply, as this can go all the way through the lino and affect how it prints.
  7. Clean As You Go: Regularly brushing away the lino shavings helps keep your workspace clear and gives you a better view of your progress.
  8. Practice Makes Perfect: Like all artistic processes, the more you practice lino cutting, the better you’ll become. Over time, you’ll develop a steadier hand and a more intuitive understanding of how deep to cut.

Remember, safety first! While lino cutting can be enjoyable and rewarding, it’s crucial to always be aware of where your hands and fingers are in relation to the cutting tools.

Watch Our Video on Cutting Lino Blocks

Make sure to use the correct sized blade when cutting your Lino.

You can use a utility knife/stanley knife to today up rough edges.

Types of Cutting Tools For Lino Printing

Depending on how much money you can spare to buy tools for lino printing determines the quality of the tools available. Shown are a mixture of cheaper and more expensive tools, if you are a beginner I would advise looking for the red handled lino tools which allow you to change the size of the cutting tool. Read the lino cutting tools review to get a better idea of what may be best suited for you.

Linocutting involves a variety of specialised tools, each designed for specific purposes. Understanding the shapes and uses of these tools is essential for effective carving and achieving the desired effects in your linocut prints. Here’s a list of common lino cutting tool shapes and their uses:

  1. V-Shaped Gouge (V-Tool):
    • Use: Ideal for cutting fine lines and adding detail. The ‘V’ shape creates a clean, sharp line in the lino. It comes in various sizes for different line widths.
  2. U-Shaped Gouge (U-Tool or Gouge):
    • Use: Perfect for scooping out larger areas. The ‘U’ shape allows for smooth, curved cuts and is great for creating texture. Available in different sizes for varying widths of cuts.
  3. Knife (Cutting Tool):
    • Use: Used for straight cuts and for trimming the edges of the lino block. It’s also useful for clearing out large areas and creating sharp, defined edges.
  4. Chisel (Flat Tool):
    • Use: Best for removing large areas of lino quickly. The flat edge is perfect for creating straight lines and can be used to smooth or flatten surfaces.
  5. Rounded Gouge:
    • Use: Similar to the U-gouge but with a more rounded edge. It’s useful for creating softer, more rounded lines and textures.
  6. Micro Tools:
    • Use: These are smaller tools used for adding fine details. They are essential for intricate designs where precision is key.
  7. Spoon Gouge:
    • Use: This tool has a deeper, spoon-like shape, ideal for scooping out broader areas. It’s great for creating large, smooth curves or clearing big sections.
  8. Bent Neck Tools:
    • Use: The bent neck allows for a different angle of attack, providing more control and comfort, especially when working on detailed or complex areas.
  9. Skew Knife:
    • Use: A tool with an angled blade, used for cutting precise, angled lines or for reaching tight corners. It’s also useful for carving around detailed areas.
  10. Texture Tools:
    • Use: These tools come in various shapes and are used to create different textures within the lino. They can produce effects like cross-hatching, stippling, or other patterned backgrounds.

Essdee Lino Cutting Tool With Interchangeable Blades

Each of these tools can be used in different combinations and techniques to achieve a wide variety of effects in linocut printing. The choice of tool often depends on the specific requirements of your design and the style you wish to achieve. Experimentation with these tools is a great way to understand their capabilities and how they can enhance your linocut artwork.

Lino Printing Tools

Various Lino cutting tools.

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