One of the many ideas bouncing around in my head for how I’m going to use my Glowforge is for wood block printing. I’ve already designed a registration frame that will hold the blocks and have triangular protrusions which will match triangular cutouts on the paper to assure the paper aligns correctly with each block. That’s a method that’s been used by Japanese printers since the 1600s at least.
What I’m wondering about is how deep an etch am I going to need to prevent rolled on ink from getting down into the “void” areas. In traditional block printing, the cuts can be quite deep indeed, and in my experience with linoleum printing I’ve found it difficult to avoid getting ink on my tool marks. Additionally, for large blank areas on the block it will probably be faster and/or more efficient to make a full 1/2 inch cut all the way through the wood around a 10x10 inch square than it would be to engrave the entire 100inch^2 surface area to say, a 3/16 inch depth. That also leaves the problem of weakening the structure of the block.
Two solutions for the large surface area problem that I’ve come to are
Have a two pass cut that cuts out a regular grid to remove large portions of the block without compromising the structure, then ‘planing’ the rest by engraving it down to the desired depth.
Engraving a ‘buffer’ area around the design to the desired depth, then engraving a tight grid at the same depth over the rest of the “void” area. I would then go over that area with a wood chisel with the grid cuts making clearing that large area by hand a bit easier.
The first method would be harder on the laser, and the second method would be harder on my wrist and elbow. (lino-print elbow is no joke.) There’s still lots of time before I get my unit to build these insane layered vectors that I’ll need in either case, but I’m interested to hear what the other Glowsmiths out there think about the raw nuts and bolts of projects like these.
Just so folks don’t accuse me of being a tease, here’s one of the fractal designs I’ll definitely be turning into a 3 color block print.