Care of Your
Tools and Supplies
the tools and supplies you use for soft-block carving are not costly,
there is no need to throw your money out the window by neglecting your
tools. A little preventive maintenance will save you a lot of money and
your carving media away from heat and sunlight, and make sure you
keep it away from any corrosive materials.
your lino and X-Acto blades in a small watertight container with
lightweight oil. This will prevent rust.
the sharpness of your blades. (See instructions below.)
sure your brayers are dry before storing them, and if they stop
rolling smoothly, oil the side holes very lightly. Replace rollers
if they become damaged, pitted, or gouged.
all all inks and ink pads tightly and store away from heat and
you are concerned about cuts, replace your glass plate with a
custom-cut piece of tempered glass, requesting that the edges be
ground for safety. Otherwise, use masking tape to tape the edges of
brand-new, store-bought blades should be sharpened before use. There is
nothing more frustrating than working on a nice carving and having your
blade suddenly skip across the surface of the material, ruining it.
Following is how you sharpen your lino blades, both inside and out.
whetstone (fine grain)
oil (any lightweight oil will do, or even water in a pinch -- the
purpose of the oil is to carry fine shavings away from the blade as
or 600-grit wet/dry sandpaper
a drop of oil to the whetstone.
the blade to be sharpened into the handle.
the bevel of the blade onto the oiled area of the stone at about a
25-degree angle (see below). Check the existing bevel of the blade
and use that as a guide.
a circular motion, rub the blade on the stone to the count of 10.
For blades 1 and 2 ("V" blades) turn the blade over and
repeat. For blades 3 and 5 (rounded "U" blades), rotate
the blade around, maintaining the angle, until the entire
"U" is sharpened. For blade 4 (squared "U"),
sharpen all three sides. For blade 6 and X-Acto blades, sharpen each
sharpen the inside of the blades, apply a small amount of oil to the
inside curve. Fold a small piece of sandpaper and shape it to the
inside curve. Pull the folded paper through the inside of the blade
several times, always in the same direction.
a soft cloth to remove excess oil and shavings from the blade.
the sharpness periodically on a piece of scrap carving block.
You should use freshly sharpened blades every time you carve.