Trouble printing block or linocut on a C&P 10x15

Hello community,

Experienced hand printer here - but newbie to letterpress.

Quick question -

I am primarily a linocut / blockcut printer. I recently purchased a 10x15 Chandler and Price old style. It works great, ran through a couple operational beginner courses, bought the ink etc. etc.

I’ve done up a single color linocut block set, carved and in its form. It’s based onto 3/4 plywood and shimmed up with pressboard until type height.

I’ve run ink onto it, adjusted tape onto the truck tracks, until the relief just gets kissed, then started playing with packing the make ready.

Here’s the problem.

My knife marks keep receiving ink. Now I know, this is most likely to roller height … since the roller needs to touch it. The cuts are almost down the the burlap at this point so they are low.

When I raise the rollers all the way so they no longer contact the cuts, I am also missing a small, central area in the middle of the block.

I’ve tried making a frisket and bringing the rollers back down, but even the impression seems off on the central area, even if the makeready is really packed.

To miss this would suggest the block is uneven. I’ve seen many of you using linocut successfully without inking your cuts.

How are you getting your rollers to not ink those cuts? Is it a different, harder base than plywood?

are you running actually wooden type all around your form to create a “box” that the rollers hit first?

I did look extensively and wasn’t able to find a particular conversation around this.

PS - I’ve had to hand pull these again with a wooden spoon just to get them done.

Not sure if images would help here but I have a pinterest link to some on this project

Thanks in advance from a newbie!

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

Great looking work!

Proper roller height but too much ink? Take some ink off. Also, try rotating the linocut block in the chase and see if the rollers interact better with an alternate direction of your cuts?

Also, try putting a piece of paper tape or thin backing behind the central spot on your lino block that wasn’t inking when the rollers were well-adjusted. Sometimes I find lino blocks to be slightly uneven and that is the simplest “cheat” to getting an even inking.

Thanks lizabam -

So stupid, I’ll definately try shimming the bottom of the block and see if that helps … thanks!

Also, do you scorp out the blank areas, where you say the cuts are inking, completely? You could try setting the block on a convenient surface and resting a wooden straightedge lightly on the block, move it over the cut-out areas, then look carefully to see the clearance under the straightedge. You may find that the raised uncut ribs between the cutter marks are nearly as high as the printing surface and thus picking up and transferring ink. If you’ve adjusted the roller height and the blocks are type-high (not over or under) the need to clear the non-printing areas completely may be the problem.


Probably anybody would have trouble not printing your cut marks which are beyond the printing area.

What a commercial printer would do is: first, put that block on a printers’ table saw and cut the block back to a square which is only about 1/8” bigger than the closest edges of the image area. Then they would use a router or knife and cut all the lino off the underlying wood block, all the way around, up to about 1/8” from the image area.

That will solve your problem of printing your cut marks in the non-image area. Then you can adjust your impression, packing, etc., without having to worry about inking those cut marks, because they won’t be there anymore.

One of the things I learned in a letterpress shop years ago was to keep the overall size of your made up form as small as possible with respect to the printing area.

Thanks for the feedback Bob and Geoffrey.

I hadn’t thought about cutting the actual block, as I am so used to registering by hand and having identical blocks to help with consistency.

Cutting this block and the next one down as you say, would eliminate identical block sizes for registration … but then again I am using a letterpress now, so my registration doesn’t work like that anymore. It’s all a process I suppose.

Regardless - cutting the block seems to make sense and would remove anything those rollers would strike first.


Eric, if you don’t want to cut the block, you could just cut the extra lino back almost to the image and strip it off. I don’t know how hard it would be to remove, but after you cut it all around the image, maybe you could get under it with a sharp knife or a chisel.

Also, consider the pressure your getting from the C&P. It’s a lot more than a ‘spoon rub’.

Proofing with a spoon works because you are using a lot of pressure in a local spot. As the area to print increases in a forme the amount of pressure at any spot decreases so you compensate by adding packing on old presses to increase pressure or cranking up the pressure on a Heidelberg. A proofing press gives a thin line of pressure as you roll across which is why artists get good prints on a proofing press or using a needle roller and wonder why they are getting poor prints on a platen.

As already stated you could have saved some time by cutting all the excess off around the outside before you started.

Any high ridges inside creating marks should be cut back. If the rollers are pressing down too hard they will compress on the solid and sink into cut areas. The kind of lino you are using could make a difference, some is very soft which may compress.

Also as already stated if you have a low spot interlay with a piece of tissue between the lino and your base.

There was no need to tape the tracks, you leave them alone and gradually bring up the block. For lino cuts everything doesn’t have to be type high. If you were using an old Columbian or Albion or old hot foil press you wouldn’t worry about being type high.