Cutting wood ornaments

I was wondering if anybody cuts their own wood ornaments. If so what shapes are you cutting and what wood are you using? Do you treat the wood before use, if so what with?

I was thinking of having a go at cutting small ornaments using 22mm wood cubes in Birch and Beech available on e-Bay which would easily pack to type high.

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These gentlemen have cut some wood type ornaments. There’s some info on preparing wood in the blog section of Scott Moore’s site.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Hi Platenprinter…

I hand cut a lot of my own ornaments….. in all sorts of patterns from scrolls to ornate letters to clip-art style pictures. I’ve got a lot of experience in woodcut printmaking, so it comes rather easily for me.

Now… about the wood: if you are using your cut in a letterpress, it needs to be flat when you cut it and STAY flat later. I use several woods, depending on the level of detail in the cut.

For Super-fine details, I use end-grain cherry (which is overkill for most letterpress uses)

For FINE details, I use cherry.
For everyday work, like clip-art and logos, I use maple.
and for simple / one use blocks…. like a color background, or an arrow or highlight or something, I use cleargrain Aspen.

Your birch and beech would probably work well, as would many other types of wood. Even course grained wood like fir and pine can be used effectively IF you learn to work with the inevitable grain pattern in your print. I saw a birch like wood being used in Tibet not long ago, and it made an excellent cut.

no matter what wood I use, I like to let it acclimate in my shop for as long as possible before I use it….. and if possible, i let it age before AND after I run it through the planer. I’ve got many, many blocks in my shop…. some of which have aged for several years. I figure that if they are going to warp, they’ll do so within a year. AND many of them DO warp. When they do, I cut them into smaller pieces and use them for smaller cuts.

Other than letting it age, and running it through the planer if it’s too tall or has dings, and possibly a little sanding, I don’t do any sort of treatments, coatings or anything.

Now… about “type high” wood: I don’t try to plane my wood to be type high. It doesn’t seem worth the effort to me since wood tends to grow and shrink a little bit with seasonal humidity changes. Instead I plane it to about 7/8 and then shim it up on the press….. or use 3/4 inch wood with a 1/8 birch ply base with a small shim.