To demonstrate how to cut out an image into lino I have chosen to use my oak leaf design.  For information on how to transfer a design onto the lino, please take a look at my page 'Preparing a linocut image'.

I started with my oak leaf design transferred onto the lino and I placed it on the bench hook so that I didn't damage my table with the cutting tools.


First I wanted to cut out the outline.  I chose to use a small v-shaped cutting tool for this as this would let me make narrow cuts.  I began by lining up the blade of the tool slightly outside of the pencil line and gently pushing it into the lino to make small cuts.  It is better to try to make smaller cuts rather than big long cuts as this gives you more control with the tool and makes you less likely to slip and take out chunks of the picture that you didn't mean to!  Also, remember that you must always cut away from your fingers and other hand.  This is why it is useful to use a bench hook as you can wedge the lino up against the edge of it to prevent it slipping, rather than having your hand in the way of the sharp tool.

Continue to make your way around the entire design outline.


Once you have cut out all around the outside edge of the design then do the same to the detail on the main part of the design, as shown below.

Next, I change the blade of my cutting tool for a larger U-shaped blade.  This is better for cutting out larger areas.

Using the larger blade I worked around the outside of the oak leaf to remove the excess lino that I didn't want showing up on my finished print.  To begin with you do not need to cut too deeply into the lino.  You risk making holes in your stamp if you gouge too deeply.  Remember that you can always cut more away but you can't put it back once it's cut!

Wherever possible, it is best to cut away from your design picture rather than towards it as it is very easy to slip and cut into your picture.  This would spoil your entire print and mean that you may have to start all over again if you cannot adapt the damage into your design!

Once this stage is complete you should have a roughly cut out image of your finished piece.

My next step was to go over the outer area again to tidy up the parts of the design that I didn't want to show up on my finished print and make them a little deeper.  I continued to use that large U-shaped cutting tool for this to clear the large outer area.

To make a good, sharp edge to my image, I then needed to clear away the excess lino around the very edge of the oak leaf.  To get into the fine detail edges I changed the cutting tool blade for one with a straight edge.  This meant that I could get right into the fine points between the curves of the leaves, as shown in the picture below.  I used this tool to make the cuts like a knife, but not to remove any of the lino


Finally, I switched back to my original small V-shaped tool to tidy up directly around the edges of my design.  I also went over the fine detail on the face of the oak leaf design to make these marks a little deeper and more defined.

The finished linocut should stand up away from the background if you don't want any of the background to show on your print.

I cut around the edge of my linocut design leaving a small margin for holding or mounting.