Best linocut tools for carving lino

Updated: Mar 31

In this blog I've compared a selection of lino cutting tools available in the UK. I've chosen 3 beginners linocut tools sets and one professional set.


Along with a brief description, pros and cons of each set, I've created a video showing each of the tools being used on different types of lino.


Beginners lino tools

  • Essdee lino cutter set

  • Abig lino cutter set

  • Japanese wood carving tools


Professional lino tools

  • Pfeil lino cutting tools


Linocut tools demo

In this video I've demonstrated each of the 4 different types of linocut tools on soft cut / easy carve lino and traditional artists lino.


Videoing myself carving isn't the easiest thing to do. My carving skills seem to go a bit haywire under the one take pressure! I thought that actually seeing the tools being used, rather than my opinion would be useful.


Note. I was carving the traditional lino on a cold day. The tools will carve the lino more easily if it is slightly warmed.


Essdee linocut tools and handle set

Beginners linocut tools

  • Set of 5 or 10 lino cutters.

  • Set of 5 includes 5 blades and one polypropylene handle.

Essdee linocut tools
Essdee linocut tools

Pros

  • 5 piece set contains 2 V-shaped cutting blades.

  • Replaceable blades.

  • Best variety of blades for carving easy carve or soft cut lino.

Cons

  • Essdee say they not to be sharpened once blunt.


ABig linocut tools and handle set

Beginners linocut tools

  • Set includes 5 blades and one wooden handle.

Abig linocut tools
Abig linocut tools

Pros

  • Replaceable blades.

Cons

  • Can’t be sharpened.

  • Only 1 V-blade.

  • Slightly burred edges when carving traditional artists lino.


Japanese wood carving tools

Beginners linocut tools

  • Set includes 5 tools with pencil shaped handles.

  • Suitable for woodcut and linocut.

Japanese wood carving tools
Japanese wood carving tools

Pros

  • Don’t need to keep changing blades.

  • Can be sharpened.

  • Best of the 3 entry level tools tested for carving traditional artists lino.

Cons

  • Only 1 V-blade.

  • I personally prefer tools which fit into the palm of my hand.


Pfeil linocut tools

Professional linocut tools

  • Single tools or sets of 6.

  • The set in the image are LSC Pfeil tools. L 8/7, L 8/3, L 9/2 are U-shaped. L 12/4, L 15/2, L 11/0.5 are V-shaped.

Pfeil linocut tools -  LSC set
Pfeil linocut tools - LSC set

Pros

  • High quality.

  • Can be sharpened.

  • Comfort in palm of your hand.

  • Wide variety of blades available.

Cons

  • Expensive if just trying linocutting for the first time.

Pfeil linocutting tools LSC set. From left to right they are L 8/7, L 8/3, L 9/2, L 12/4, L 15/2, L 11/0.5
Pfeil linocut tools LSC set. From left to right they are L 8/7, L 8/3, L 9/2, L 12/4, L 15/2, L 11/0.5

I tend to use V-shaped gauges L 12/4 and L 15/2 for most of my carved lines as I like the organic variation in line you get with a V shaped tool. I use L 11/0.5 for fine details. I use U-shaped gauges L 8/3 and L 9/2 for clearing smaller details. L 8/7 I use for clearing large areas.


 

How to Sharpen Linocut Tools

There are various methods to sharpening your tools. The best way is to maintain the edge by stropping or honing your tools each time you use them.


If your lino cutting tools have become blunt over time. Lawrence art supplies offer a sharpening and regrinding service. If you know of anyone in Yorkshire that also offers this service I’d love to know.


Note: Some beginners linocut tools can not be sharpened. I recommend checking with the shop you are buying them from.


How to use Flexicut SlipStrop

The Flexicut Slipstrop is used of stropping or honing your linocut tools. It’s a method to maintain a sharp edge on your tool by polishing and deburring the edge. I bought mine from Handprinted.co.uk


This is a useful Tube video demonstrating how to use the Flexicut SlipStrop. Watch half way through for sharpening your V and U shaped lino tools and gouges.


Sharpening carving Tools with Flexicut SlipStrop


Regrinding and sharpening your linocut tools

I'm quite adept at DIY etc but sharpening such fine tools is quite an art. If your linocut tools have become too blunt, I woud recommend getting them sharpened professionally.


Lawrence art supplies offer a linocut tools sharpening and regrinding service.

 

Resources


Hawthorn Printmaking Supplies

Specialist printmaking supplies. York and online.


Handprinted UK

Specialist printmaking supplies. Online.

Jackson’s Arts Supplies

London shop and online.

Intaglio Printmakers (Shop in London and online)

Specialist printmaking supplies. London shop and online.

Blossom Street Gallery (Shop in York)

Some beginners tools. Shop in York.

Fred Aldos

Beginners equipment for printmaking. Shops in Leeds, Manchester and online.

 

You may also find these blog useful:

What tools and equipment do you need to make a linocut print?

https://www.michellehughesdesign.com/post/2018/07/02/lino-cutting-equipment


Printmaking and Linocut Print Books

Find out more about my favourite printmaking books and magazines in my ‘Printmaking and Linocut Print Books’ blog.



I hope that helps get you started. If you need any more hints and tips get in touch.


Michelle

 

Would you like to learn how to make a linocut print?

Online courses

Online self-paced learning. Full access for one year, so that you can study at your own pace and home. Instructional videos and step-by-step guides.

  • Beginners guide to linocut printing

  • How to make a multi-block linocut print

Linocut workshops

My linocut workshops are all held in my York print studio. I teach in small groups of no more than four people, so that everyone gets lots of one to one tuition.

  • Introduction to linocut printing workshop

  • Follow on 'jigsaw' linocut printing workshop

See my linocut workshops and online courses page for links to each of my courses and workshops.



See step-by-step how I make my linocut prints

See examples of how I make my linocut prints in the Studio Diary section of my blog.


To be first to hear about my latest designs, online courses and workshops please join my mailing list.


Happy linocutting!

Michelle


 

About the author

Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.


Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour.


Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.

#linocut


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