Wood Block Print: Step Two – Carving

Posted on: September 27th, 2014
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Sharpening your carving tools regularly is an important skill and will greatly improve your experience and your final outcome. To sharpen carving tools, use honing compound (this looks like a giant yellow kindergarten crayon), along with a block of wood and a swatch of leather. Make a groove into the wood with the carving tool that needs sharpening. Colour the groove with the honing compound and draw the tool towards you, pressing firmly into the groove (always sharpen in the same direction). Repeat until the compound has a silvery sheen. To test how sharp the tool is, cut into the block against the grain. Repeat process until your tool is nice and sharp. Finish sharpening by colouring compound onto the leather and drawing the tool in one direction. Be sure to angle the tool’s blade against the leather. The leather also works particularly well for chisels.

You have five knives in the Japanese carving kit purchased at Lee Valley. This is a great starter set and if properly cared for will last a lifetime.

1. Straight Chisel

2. V-Groove, Parting Tool

3. Small U-Shaped Gouge

4. Large U-Shaped Gouge

5. Skewed Chisel


Make sure your hands are well away from the blade and that you are carving away from your body. Use common sense – please be careful. The knives are sharp. You can also use a bench hook to hold your block, which will catch the tool if it slips.

Note: Band-Aids are kept in the First Aid Kit, or in a box outside the woodshop.

Categorised under: Woodcut