Hello again Noel,
Just re-read my previous note to you about wood. It was all good
but I dashed it off in a very great hurry and I am
embarrassed by the typos and some non-grammatical construction, i.e.
"from 19th century before when photo-etching reproduction had not
yet been invented" Huh?
I figure you’ll work out the intended meaning after only a little
head-scratching, but it is disturbing to see myself writing as if
semi- literate and I hope that doesn’t cause you to dismiss the
Also - to clarify something I wrote. You say you want to make 1" x
1" woodcuts. So here’s where I would start - with the proviso that I
am a good woodworker, but not a classic woodcut maker. And at the
scale you propose I think the proper term would be “wood engraving.”
I mentioned that end grain is where you can get the finest detail.
The reasoning behind this is that the structure of all wood, no
matter how fine-grained, is best visualized as a cluster of tiny
tubules glued together - like a bunch of drinking straws. If you cut
the design on the face of the wood, that is, on the surface parallel
to the sides of the tubes, then the ink will tend to run (bleed)
along the tubes or along the tiny spaces between them, either by
capillary action or by being squeezed in the pressure of printing.
That translates into loss of detail in the printing. Therefore if you
want to produce clean-edged impressions or finest detail, the
printing surface should be cut into the end grain of the blocks. In
that way the ink penetrates and is held in the end of each tiny tube
and when the block is pressed to the printed surface it is, in
effect, as if you are printing with many, many individual tiny
That is the limit of my knowledge of this particular trade. The
deficiency in my knowledge about this process is that I have no idea
exactly what shapes of gravers were used to do this work nor any of
the fine points (no pun) of the sharpening techniques for this
particular application. You’ll have to research elsewhere than in my
dusty brain. However, cutting in end grain, of all woodworking
operations, requires the most perfectly sharp tools. Don’t let this
daunt you, as sharpening can develop into quite a pleasurable
activity and as a jeweler, you will find it familiar, very akin to
fine polishing. I use a green rouge on a leather strop or on a firm
polishing wheel for my final touch on edged tools - which end up
being sharp enough to not merely shave, but to shave comfortably.
I imagine your best bet would be to get yourself some of the proper
wood cut into 1" x 1" sticks of convenient lengths. Start with one
end sanded perfectly flat, square, and very smooth - 600 grit paper
at the very least… Fix the stick in a vice (with wood or other non-
scarring jaws) and cut your design in the end. Then slice off that
end at whatever thickness appropriate - and parallel to the engraved
surface. That’s your printing block. Sand the newly exposed end
perfectly flat and make another, and another etc.
There may be lots of other details at which I can only guess - how
to treat the surface, how to clean it, whether you are able to use
water- based inks or cleaners (I suspect not), but you’d have to ask
a printer. And then - will you press the block to the printed
surface? Or press the printed material to the block? Does one stamp??
Press? Roll? etc.
I am curious as to what you are thinking of making - although 'tis
none of my business.
Anyway - I hope this is some help for a start.