Mei’s Fabriano Residency

Terry McKenna Mokuhanga Workshop

Print club April 2016

Print Club is an opportunity for members and associate members to meet, print, discuss processes and share news.

Inky Dog's sharpening method for u-shaped tools

Inky dog’s sharpening method for u-shaped tools

Focus in April: Sharpening lino, woodcut and wood engraving tools. There are many different sets of instructions on the Internet about how to care for our tools. At Print Club I demonstrated the method that I was taught at Carbatec, which applies to all V shaped steel tools, large or small.  Using an oil stone, you push the tool in circular movements, ten times on each facet, making sure it is precisely angled. This differs from the simpler method demonstrated at Inky Dog Press.  But Inky Dog also show you a challenging way to sharpen U-shaped tools. Compare their method with Carbatec’s, which is just to push the tool forward and rotate it at the same time. McClain’s Printmaking Supplies gives a similar description to Carbatec’s method here, using a wet stone.

The other method of sharpening is with wet stones. This video from David Bull’s e-book ‘Your first Print’ gives a very good example of how to sharpen the Japanese Mokuhanga tool, the hangi-toh. Here’s another link in David’s Encyclopaedia of woodblock printmaking.

'Crocker' sharpener, available from McClain's

‘Crocker’ sharpener, available from McClain’s

Wood engraving tools can be sharpened in the same way, but use only the finest grain oil stones. Here are two helpful references: and the ‘Crocker’, a special tool available from McClain’s.

Feeling confused? We might arrange a Print Club trip to Carbatec some time. But remember: you will have to sharpen your tools far less often if you regularly hone them (every day, or more often if you’re carving all day!) with a honing block or for v-tools and u-tools, a flexcut slip strop, which Carbatec may be able to obtain for you.

A well-used strop and the flex cut slip strop with the yellow polishing compund. Image from Renaissance

A well-used strop and the flex cut slip strop with the yellow polishing compund. Image from Renaissance

Julia (Print Club coordinator)

Grace Myers Exhibition