type-high wood for woodcuts?

I generally like to carve on Shina plywood.

But the options I know about are 1/4” and 3/8”, and make for a real pain when I want to try to use a letterpress to print.

Are there any already type-high suggestions for people doing woodcuts for letterpress?

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I’ve never used this before, but it sure looks good: http://www.art-boards.com/woodcutblocks.htm I’d be interested to see what you create with it.

Surely it’s not so difficult to shim a 3/8” block up?

Maybe I just like the fun(?) of throwing all sorts of stuff through the press after bringing it up to .918”

It’s not difficult to shim, and if you made a BASE for your blocks out of plastic or aluminum (better yet), used the same blocks every time (picked 3/16” for example), you could double stick tape them in place on the base wherever you wanted them to sit in the press. Quick and easy.

Just measure the thickness of your blocks, subtract that from .918, get a base a little less than the “difference” between your block height and type height, and then shim it up with newsprint or tagboard or tympan or whatever until it’s at the right height.

This also means you don’t have to buy the thicker wood and be paying more money for it. Your base cost is going to be a one time expense. I think the 1/4” stuff cuts just as well as a .918 block or 3/4 block, but it costs less, right?

I know nothing about carving, but i buy 1/4” mag dies and have them shipped unmounted, i mount them on my furniture with double sided tape then shim it with 2 pieces of chipboard under it, this should work for 1/4” wood also. Dick G.

Those blocks at art-boards.com are pretty expensive compared to what I’m used to. Looks like I’ll keep shimming.

Thanks guys.

The art-boards blocks are rock maple, which is much harder than the Shina you’re using, but will stand up to a greater number of impressions. I’ve used both and had good results with the Shina for short runs, but for my cards I spring for the maple blocks as the Shina was wearing down and rounding off on the edges after a few hundred prints. It’s worth it if you need find detail that lasts!
Just a last-minute two-cents.

thanks for the info on the art boards. i’ll have to try those. the maple sounds good.

i mostly carve linoleum, and i’ve had good luck with the mounted speedball blocks. i need to shim them with a couple of cereal box layers, but they’re almost type high. so far they’re holding up nicely, as well, though i’ve only had my press a few months and haven’t done more than 500 of any block yet.

Good Morning MegaH!

Here in my shop, we make our own type-high woodblocks for hand-carving and laser- cutting. What I do is buy ( or obtain from recyclers ) cherry and maple wood, then let it cure / dry for many months before I plane it to thickness. After it’s planed, I cut it into smaller blocks for use. I typically use smaller blocks, no larger than 5x8 or so, depending upon the wood. This results in a very stable piece of wood that doesn’t tend to warp later.

At the moment, I’ve got a bit of a surplus of 4x6, 3.5x 5, and 3x5 cherry blocks that I was considering selling in the classified section, if anybody was interested.

aka Winking Cat Press

How much for 4x6 blocks?

yes, let us know. i’d be interested too.


OK… to be fair to everybody, I posted an ad in the Briar Press classified for the wood blocks. As soon as the reviewers look it over, it’ll be available for you to see.

I start the topic and ask the question, and somehow I miss out on them. WTF!? Ugh.

I carve on Resingrave (which is 13/16” high). If you are interested in working in this medium, McClains offers a Type-high Shim that will boost the block up very close to letterpress height. You can use sheets of computer paper to even out the shim. This would work for shimming up any height block, I suppose; just keep adding material layers until you reach .918.

A wood and lino artist in my area recommended Jim Reynolds to me. I haven’t ordered from him yet, so I can’t speak for the quality or if he is even still in the business, but his page is still live: