Wood carving and linoleum carving have more in common than you may first think. Apart from the techniques, patterns, and transferring designs that can often be similar between linoleum and wood carving, some of the tools that are used in the process are also the same.
You can use wood carving tools such as the carving knife, U gouge, V gouge, and some types of chisels on linoleum. In addition to that, you will also need a bench hook to carve linoleum. A bench hook is not a wood carving tool and is unique to only linoleum carving.
The beginner set to carving linoleum usually consists of the following 6 items:
- Small V gouge
- Large V gouge
- Small U gouge
- Large U gouge
- Sharp carving knife
- Your favorite chisels of different sizes
It is important to have your V gouge and U gouge in two different sizes with one being larger and the other smaller because unlike in wood carving you can not carve over the same surface multiple times to make reach the desired size as it will look messy, instead you must have the right size of your tools.
5 Tips For Carving Linoleum With Wood Carving Tools
1. Keep your blades sharp
Just like it is very important that you keep your wood carving tools sharp when carving wood, it is just as important to keep your tools sharp when carving linoleum sharp for the same reasons: convenience and safety.
It is up to you whether you want to sharpen your tools or just replace the blade on your tool if you have the option to detach it.
2. Trace a pattern
Freestyling is of course always an option but if you are just starting out with linoleum carving it is best you stick to a plan and before you take a gouge in your hand, transfer a pattern using carbon paper.
This will greatly improve both the quality of your work and the learning curve of working with lino as you will be able to concentrate on “how to carve” and not “what to carve”.
3. Use a bench hook
A bench hook is a gadget that is unique to linoleum carving. If you are unsure of what it looks like, head down to the end of the article and see the video where using a bench hook is the number one tip to beginner lino carvers.
The way this gadget works is it restricts your blade to go past the end of your carving block and helps to keep the linoleum black in place, this helps to trace your pattern,
4. Don’t purchase new wood carving tools
Linoleum carving tools often happen to be much cheaper than wood carving because you can buy one that and only replace the blades, this means that if you don’t have two sizes of your U gouge, instead of wasting money on a gouge that you will never use anywhere apart from linoleum carving you should buy a lino tool instead.
Check out the Bestex 5 in 1 linoleum cutter tool which comes at a cheaper price than most wood carving tools and is specifically manufactured to carve linoleum which in theory should increase the quality of your work.
5.Use a non-slippery surface
Especially if you are a beginner control plays a very large role in linoleum carving. The less stable your carving block is the more tired you will get.
Linocutboy suggests you use some kind of non-slip matting to secure your linoleum firmly on the carving surface.
Cons Of Using Wood Carving Tools On Linoleum
While overall it is totally fine to use wood carving tools on linoleum there are still some negatives to it that will not be there if you use tools that are specially manufactured for linoleum carving.
1. Losing sharpness faster
When you switch between wood and linoleum your wood carving tools may lose form a little bit faster. This is not a huge disadvantage but it is something you want to keep an eye on.
Just another quick reminder that sharp tools are essential to creating a high-quality carving regardless of whether it is made of wood, linoleum, or any other material.
2. Less variety
This is a subjective disadvantage because while you can get all the different lino carving tools in the world, there will not be a job that the 6 essential tools listed at the start of the article won’t be able to do.
Yes, a little bit of uniqueness will be lost if you use a small U gouge instead of the “extra thin carbon fiber lino cutting blade”, however, nobody apart from you will even notice it.
3. Difference Between Wood Carving Tools and Linoleum carving Tools
Lastly, of course, is that there is a difference between wood carving tools and linoleum carving tools. While you can adapt to use wood carving tools, there will still always be a better alternative of tools that are specifically manufactured for carving linoleum.
This is a two-sided coin as your wood carving tools may be made of better steel and be sharper as well as more comfortable for you to use, but the cheapest linoleum carving tool will offer a tiny bit more variety and linoleum specific benefits that despite being less luxury than your wood carving tools, may be better.
Beginners Guide To Carving Linoleum
There is not that much available online about linoleum carving, so we thought in case you can’t find something too useful elsewhere we would include some useful beginner tips on linoleum carving in this article.
First of all, watch the below video to have a better understanding of the basics regarding linoleum carving:
We have mentioned the bench hook earlier in the article, this piece of equipment would be very useful for you if you don’t already have it (which we assume you don’t as it is extremely rarely used by woodcarvers).
You can usually get a bench hook for under $10. Check out the one we highlighted in blue! Hopefully, it delivers to where you live.
The next thing we want to mention is the carving tools that are featured on the channel. As you can see the tools that this artist used are specifically manufactured for linoleum carving, however, you can simply use a larger and smaller (forget about the sizes mentioned in the video) gouge/chisel to work the exact same technique.
To conclude wood carving tools should probably be used for linoleum carving if you are not going to carve linoleum too often. This way you will avoid the unnecessary expenses of buying lino carving equipment which is only so slightly better than casual wood carving tools.
With that said, if you are taking linoleum carving seriously you probably should go ahead and spend a little bit on a high-quality linoleum carving kit.
Thank you for reading our unusual article about a relatively distant topic from the usual wood carving stuff we discuss. As always we hope you enjoyed it and learned something new.