Relief Printing Technique
There are two main tools in woodcut to scoop out sections of wood, the curved gouge and the v-tool. The gouge makes broad cuts which are recognizable on a print for the round beginning of each stroke as the tool enters the wood. The v-tool hakes narrow cut which are recognizable for the sharp beginning of each stroke. On plankwood these tools can be used along and across wood grain; on plywood they produce smooth cuts following the grains. Other frequently used tools are the flat chisel and the knife. Chisels are used to remove large areas; knifes are used to cut along the shape of the image for a delicate result.
Woodcut tools are made in different styles from West to East. Western tools come with a thick handle. To use a gouge and a v-tool, hold the handle in the palm with index finger pressing the blade, cutting away from the body at a shallow angle to the wood block. Eastern tools come with a thin handle. To use an Eastern woodcutting tool, hold the tool like holding a pencil, with other hand reinforcing the hold, cutting away from the body at a deep angle to the wood block. To make cuts of different directions, turn the wood, not the tool.
The cutting tools should be kept sharp at all times. Use a sharpening stone which comes in two grades, coarse and fine. To sharpen a v-tool, push the blade forward, taking each cutting edge separately. To sharpen a gouge, turn the blade from side to side, using a downward, rolling action. At the finish wipe off the dust by a strip of tissue or rice paper and oil the inside edge for protection.Relief printing
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