Woodcuts for Book Arts

So, I used to make a lot of fine-craft leatherbound books, and one of the things I rarely included was letterpress printing (because it’s a HUGE pain to do and typically involve a HUGE printing press). There’s something so wonderful about works–either illustrations or text–printed from inked 3D objects (lead type, illustration plates, whatever). They literally make the page dimensional, because the inked object presses into the page and leaves behind valleys filled with ink. It gives the work a whole other kind of gravitas.

ANyway, I’m really looking forward to being able to run some small editions of books using Glowforged illustration plates cut on acrylic and wood. I think if they’re small enough, I could use a die-cutting press like a modified Big Kick to run the paper and plate through.

EDIT: the images below are just examples of cool woodcut illustrations, not my work :stuck_out_tongue: .


really neat work. As a less interesting, but also less complicated form, you could just use the laser engraved blocks as stamps. wouldn’t have the texture (unless you pressed really hard lol), but would still be cool.

1 Like

Oh, you reminded me of an idea I had a while ago that i never looked into: building a press from a car jack. A family friend presses apples into cider every year using a homemade press that is essentially a captured car-jack and a wooden frame. Has someone made one for printing with? […pintresting…]
yes. of course they have.
Look, here’s one now:

with the glowforge in hand I think we can make one that is a little easier on the eye, but the concept is sound, and bottle jacks are cheap at the pick-n-pull.


This guy has a slightly nicer version of that for sale http://affordablebindingequipment.com/hydraulic-letterpress-printing-press/

He also makes a very nice proofing press that would work well for wood block since it does not require the blocks to be type high.


I know that I’d like to try to do some letterpress and woodcuts. I did linoleum blocks in high school and enjoyed that. Sourcing some natural linoleum for that. Delrin has been discussed as a good material for doing letterpress, embossing, whatever. The thread on printing fabric with woodblocks in India was an eyeopener. I have pinned this idea: of using an old laundry mangle for a press but also this gearing setup to help me understand how a press would work. It’s hard to focus. However, to make it easy. I have a cider press that will be just fine for small runs so I won’t have to have a press, but I’m looking. I have collected lots of old liturgical and religious books that have beautiful illustrations.

1 Like

Wow, those presses that Jim makes are really pretty.

I’ve always loved woodcuts. Not sure if anyone is interested, but here’s a site that contains book illustrations in the public domain. Given the age, I imagine most of them were originally woodcuts. I’ve just been browsing through them, imagining how good they might look engraved using the GF.


I am very interested. What a lovely resource. Thank you.

Lovely! I know @glenn has been thinking about letterpress too.

1 Like

Yes, this is a perfect tool for letterpress! Seattle has a pretty rich letterpress community (as does Portland and several other American cities), and I hope to connect them up with Glowforge. I’ll let letterpress folks I know cut stuff on my forge!

1 Like

I’ve had this sitting on my shelf for years. Could never figure out a use. But looking at some of the wood cuts and an other thread, I can’t remember which one recently, this seemed to do some similar stuff.

lee valley tool

With the GF ability to trace and engrave, this would be great for people to hand draw with .

1 Like