Modular woodblock printing

Hi everyone,
I have made some progress in my laser cut woodblocks for block printing. This is a continuation of the project with rubber stamps that I wrote about here:

This time, I went large, and made the blocks out of wood. Here are some prints. The large square in both sets is 4"x4".

4"x10" Lokta paper

10"x4" Lokta paper

12"x16" Unryu handmade Thai paper

12"x18" (linen blend)

Instead of using magnets to keep them lined up like I did with the stamps, I made sort of a peg board.

The peg board is modular, so I can add panels to make it larger (took me quite a few tries to get the L shapes to fit snuggly enough). So far I have 20"x16" total area.

Here’s what the blocks look like before I glue them together. They have 4 layers; the bottom three are hardboard from Home Depot (or Ghanal) and the top printing layer is baltic birch plywood. On the bottom most layer, you can see

  • the plus-shaped holes that fit on my peg board,
  • holes for the rectangular alignment pegs,
  • indents around the edge that make the blocks easier to pick up (especially if they are inked), and
  • two round magnets (already glued in), which hold the blocks still when I’m applying the ink (I stick them on stainless steel sheet metal when inking).

I use the two rectangular pegs to help me align my stack. The top printing layer is always exactly the same shape as the layer just below it, so I can align it when gluing more easily even without the pegs.

Here’s what a similar block looks like after it’s glued, right side up and upside down.

I have some non-rectangular blocks in this set. I just make the bit with the plus shaped hole only on the bottom two layers. In the picture below you can see the back and front of a little triangular roof. (These blocks have not been used yet, so they are not yet stained.)

Here’s a design laid out with the geometric set. I figure out what I’m going to do and photograph it, and then label the photo with which color will go where.

When I’m printing, I sort the pieces onto magnetic surfaces by what color they will be, and then ink them all up. Then I place the inked blocks onto the pegboard where I pull the print.

Here’s the state of my messy desk at the moment.

I set up an illustrator file where I can plan my buildings, so I can make digital mockups like the one below. I’m excited to get to the printing stage with this set!

Thanks for looking!


@josh15 and @ekla this might interest you. :slight_smile:


This entire post is about such an amazing process and incredible output of prints…I really have no words. You are very obviously a dedicated maker of prints and printing blocks. I am very much loving what you have done.


This is so cool. I love your modular approach. The possibilities are endless. Thank you for sharing!


Really like everything you are doing with this


Modular and magnets! Brilliant!


This is just amazing. Fantastic job!!


What an ingenious way to design the print blocks. It gives you such flexibility. I really appreciate the time and thought it takes to go through the entire process to get that first print. Thanks for sharing with us.


Beautiful designs and prints, plus great engineering too!


What’s the open time on the ink? That is, once you ink the stamp how long do you have until you need to print?


Thank you for sharing this write up. You have really put the effort and innovation into getting this process to work successfully. Your prints are beautiful!


Holy smokes this is cool


This is a really nice and nice looking solution. Thanks for sharing the details, this kind of thing helps build the old mental arsenal for future projects related or not!


That looks totally awesome! I never would have thought of making stamps from wood, or of placing them on stainless steel when inking, which I am sure makes for easy cleanup! Since I haven’t yet bought the rubber to make the stamps I want, I’ll have to try this! Not so elaborate as yours, I’m sure, but definitely will be trying this today! I do have plenty of baltic birch!


Thank you for being SO generous with your knowledge and process! It’s amazing and just as beautiful as the prints themselves :clap::clap::clap:


That is incredibly clever! Gorgeous results, too.


Wow! This is amazing!


Thanks so much for sharing the detailed write up as well as all the photos! Truly an inspired way to organize your printing process- so clever!




Thanks for your explanation! It was enjoyable reading about your progress and seeing the photo details. Can’t wait to see what else you do.