Instructions for your lino printing starter set

Once your interest in linocut print is sparked, you want to stock up on the necessary tools and products asap, right?

But where do you start? A quick search on Google will spit out beginner sets for you, and that seems all too convenient! But – these sets often consist of inexpensive products that are not very beginner-friendly. Dull blades, hard old linoleum blocks, ink that starts drying during the process. In the worst case, you’ll be frustrated quickly.

I don’t want to criticize all products on the market, but unfortunately this is true for most of the sets you will find during your research.

If you are serious about your hobby and want to have fun with it, you should put together your own starter set from high-quality products that can “compensate” for your (still) missing skill.

If you don’t have time to read, just download my lino tool guide as a PDF and you have a list of useful products for all stages: Design and Transfer, Carving, Printing, Cleaning.

If you’re not sure if you’ll enjoy printing yet, you can sell the products later. In all likelihood, however, you will probably NOT enjoy it if you buy the cheap sets – then the money is definitely wasted.

My recommendations therefore refer to products and tools that I have been working with for years out of conviction – which I present to you now.

Linocut print - What do you need?

For your design you can start on paper, in a sketchbook or on copy paper. If you are brave, you can also draw directly on the linoleum block!

Tracing paper is a great choice for creating designs with multiple layers of color! You can also use tracing paper to store excess ink, more on that later.

Choose your design rather simple and in A5 format. Accordingly, I advise you to buy your linoleum blocks in A5 (or divide an A4 block in the middle). Traditional gray linoleum is less crumbly and softer than brown linoleum. The blocks from Essdee UK are great, I’ve been using them for years.

Note: Lino from your local creative supply store CAN be rock hard. I buy these online only, there’s a higher chance of getting a relatively fresh (and softer) block!

You can transfer your design to the linoleum block using carbon paper or charcoal paper. You place this between the linoleum block and your printout/ drawing and trace all the lines of your design. These are then transferred to the block by the pressure of the pen.


A mat to protect your workspace is useful – whether you use grayboard, a tablecloth, or a cutting mat is up to you!

The heart of the process is the carving tools. I highly recommend the ones from the Swiss brand Pfeil. Yes, they cost about 16 Euros each (in Germany) – but you won’t need more than 3-4 different sizes. They are a long-term investment in your hobby and an essential factor that decides whether you will find fun in linocut or not. Cheap tools almost always have the disadvantage of not being sharp enough. This makes carving an incredible feat of strength, and what’s more, it can be really dangerous. With blunt tools you slip much faster than with sharp tools!

Which sizes you should get depends on how you want to work. For many fine details you need other sizes than for a reduced style like I have. So my favorites are: Pfeil L 12/4 or L 11/0.5 for line work, L9/5 for coarser work, and L 7/10 or B 7/14 for large-scale background removal.

Useful: a sharpening kit to keep the blades of your tools sharp. This set from Flexcut comes with a sharpening paste and an abrasive and is very easy to use.
Also useful: a hand sweeper to remove linoleum scraps (alternatively: a wide bristled painter’s brush) and large spring clamps to fix the linoleum block to the table. This way you have your hands free while carving.

Printing without a press

Must haves are paper, brayers, a mixing pad, an object to apply pressure, painting knives and inks.

  • Paper: I use basic paper from a print shop. 160 gsm from the brand "Design Offset White". Generally, smooth drawing paper in a 120-180 gram range is very suitable and easier to print on than heavy or even textured paper!
  • Ink roller: Two different sizes will do for now, like a narrow and a medium size. My favorites are the Speedball Soft Rubber. I do not recommend to go for the rollers with thin steel wire frame and hard rubber. In the beginning, you don't have a feeling for pressure and ink application or application quantity, so the inexpensive rollers are often rather frustrating to use.
  • Color mixing pad: For mixing and rolling out the ink you can take a glass plate (IKEA glass shelf), a big tile or a similar smooth surface such as plastic. About A4 size is sufficient.
  • Painting knives: To mix ink so-called painting knives are suitable. Two pieces are enough. They are available in sets made of plastic or metal. Here you can reach for cheap products first!
  • Pressure: First of all - you do not need a printing press! In the long run, you will certainly want to buy one, but you absolutely do not have to in order to achieve excellent printing results!
    A good alternative is the combination of a wooden spoon and a Japanese baren. The baren provides the initial pressure, the wooden spoon (cooking spoon or from salad cutlery for example) is used specifically to rub over the paper and bring the ink from the linoleum block to the paper.
  • Inks: oil based AND water soluble inks are the best you can buy. Oil based gives great color results and you are not under time pressure when working. Cause water-based inks often dry during the printing process! Then the print becomes very blotchy or in the worst case you have to tear the paper off the linoleum block. If you want to make use of the whole color palette, you only need 5 inks! White, black, blue (Prussian blue), magenta, yellow. The inks from Cranfield are the very best, I have been swearing by them for over 4 years! The exact name is Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink (green label). Easy to clean with soap and water!
  • Drying: Also useful is a clothes rack with pegs to hang the damp prints until they are dry. This takes at least 1 day or longer for oil-based inks. Protect your clothes, the stains from the ink won't wash out. An apron or an old large t-shirt will do the trick.


If you use the ink I recommend, you don’t need much for cleaning. A plastic box with cold water, a few old dish towels, a sponge, gloves and soap.

Please never hold the linoleum block under running water! As soon as the jute fibers on the back get wet, the block will warp and be ruined. Therefore, a small plastic box that you fill 1/3 full with water will do. I have linked the cleaning process in this article!

The tracing paper helps you to save excess ink. Cut out a small rectangle (10×10 cm). Use the paint knife to scrape the ink together and wipe it off on the paper. Fold the paper several times and you will get a small package of ink that you can close with a strip of tape. You can get a good insight in this reel on Instagram.


And that’s it for the start! I do not own much more beyond that. Okay, I have accumulated more than five inks and three carving tools over time, but this list gives a very good insight into what you might need in the beginning. Just download my PDF for a quick overview. It contains all the products as a handy list, if you want to put together your own starter kit. I’ll tell you where to get all the products in this blog article.

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

These 5 products have frustrated me as a lino printing beginner

When you want to start a new hobby, there is a big fascination at the beginning. You want to understand how everything works and, at best, you already see yourself doing it! Often you are so hyped that you want to start right away. So you watch countless videos and slowly understand how the processes work. If you then want to start yourself, you are faced with the question: What do I buy now? I don’t want to throw money out the window – who knows if I’ll stick with the hobby? So you are often inclined to start with inexpensive products. Totally understandable! HOWEVER, I have to admit that some inexpensive supplies have the opposite effect. Namely, when frustration arises because it simply does not work. And as a beginner, you don’t know if it’s your own technique and lack of knowledge or if the product is unsuitable.

From my experience I can say: There are products where you can save money and don’t have to use high-priced products. And some professional products are much more beginner-friendly than their cheap alternatives.

Therefore, today I present you my top 5 frustration products and their recommended counterparts.

Ink rollers

Round steel frame with hard rubber rollers versus soft rubber roller. The former are probably the cheapest rollers you can find, while my favorites from Speedball Art are in the midfield price wise. Although this is relative, since there are rollers for 60 euros upwards, which are too expensive even for me!

The disadvantage of the round steel frame is that it does not tolerate much pressure. Unfortunately, however, the application of ink is so poor with these rollers that one is inclined to press on harder. Overall, applying ink with these inexpensive rollers is no joy … So the result remains rather uneven, which can have a negative impact on the print.

The soft rubber rollers, on the other hand, are a dream to work with. The ink can be easily and evenly distributed. In cleaning, hard rubber rollers are ahead, but for me the printing result has priority over cleaning a utensil.

Ink - water or oil-based?

I started with large tubes of water-based ink and these Schmincke inks. A well-known company, should be working. Little did I know! While printing, the inks have partially dried, and to print in the summer was almost impossible. With a lot of pressure I tried to achieve an even result. In the end, I had to tear my paper off the linoleum block because it was sticking to it due to the dried ink. Pretty frustrating!

So my answer will always be: Ink for lino printing has to be oil-based AND washable. With oil-based inks, you automatically think of the tricky cleaning issues of having to handle smelly substances. I wouldn’t want that either 😀 Fortunately, there are the wonderful Caligo Safe Wash Relief Inks from Cranfield that combine the best of both worlds. Excellent printing qualities and very easy to clean with soap and water.

Carving tools

Here too, my credo is – please do not save money at the wrong end! With three different blade sizes you can already cover a lot of functions and are wonderful for a starter set. I used this interchangeable blade set during my time at university. A horror! Those in combination with a hard, old linoleum block spoil your fun right away. Because actually, carving can be meditative and relaxing.

Sure, carving is physically demanding – but the difference between a really sharp tool and a blade that gets dull after a short time – is huge! Sharp blades are also much safer for beginners, because you won’t slip as quickly as with dull blades! Mastering your tools and having a feel for them is also paramount for safe work – yet the “cheap carving tools” require much more control and experience than the high quality blades.

Apply pressure with the baren

My first baren was not really suitable for my project. You can use the felt baren for small stamp motifs for sure, but it’s nothing for lino printing. You can’t build up the pressure you need with it. Instead, the Japanese baren has been working wonderfully for almost 4 years now! You only make the first initial pressing with it and then switch to a wooden spoon, but it’s still part of the routine!

Paper - you can save here!

Fancy watercolor paper or heavy handmade paper with 300 gsm are eye-catchers! They feel luxurious and convey a certain value. However, these papers are not necessarily recommended for beginners and printing by hand. For a homogeneous print result, you need much more pressure and time. In contrast, papers in the 130-180 gsm range are much easier to print on, especially if it has little or no texture. My favorite paper comes from the print shop, 160 gsm, paper type “Design Offset White”. Similar papers can be found under the name “Cartridge”. Paper is certainly a matter of taste and also depends on your design. Monochrome floral designs can be perfected with a handmade paper. For beginners, I would advise choosing a paper that is easy to print on and then playing around as you gain experience.

Poor print results can be so frustrating. And even though trial and error is part of learning a hobby, we also need the “quick wins” to motivate us. The more often we do a thing, the better we get at it – but the “wrong products” can quickly take away our enjoyment.


If you are not sure whether you want to stick with a hobby permanently, it is understandable that you want to save money. Good inks and tools can be resold.

If you already work with one of these products and get along with them well – all the better! I don’t want to say, that they don’t work at all! This might be personal experience and maybe I gave up on them too quickly. But all the products shown were game changers for me so I don’t want to withhold them from you. 😊

If you want to know which products can be useful for a lino printing beginner, download my PDF tool list! And if you want to get really serious about this hobby and make your first multicolor lino printing with the help of step by step instructions that are guaranteed to be frustration free, my online course is certainly interesting for you 🥳.

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

Where to buy lino printing supplies?

If you’ve been following me closely over the past few weeks, downloaded my freebie tool list, watched my videos, then you probably now have an idea of what you need as a lino printing beginner (and advanced printer). But where do you get all these products? Since I communicate internationally and you follow me from all over the world, this is not an easy question to answer, as it is difficult for me to put myself in different locations around the world. In this article I also list a bunch of products I use.

Companies websites

Fortunately, some companies whose products I love have listed on their website where they are distributed worldwide. That’s always the first place to look. Alternatively, if your country is not listed, look up neighboring countries and their export rules.

My ink rollers are from Speedball Art
My carving tools are from Pfeil
My linoleum blocks are from Essdee UK
My relief inks are from Cranfield


There are some art material stores that I like very much, because I can buy everything bundled in one place there. For Germany this is gerstäcker or (the stores are identical). Boesner also sells the Pfeil tools and has some stores in Germany, but they don’t sell the inks I’d recommend, so Boesner is only second choice for me. The Dutch store is also recommendable (although the website is a bit strange).


In the UK, I like to buy from* or – I also buy the metallic inks from Cranfield there, as I haven’t discovered them in Germany yet. You can also check out amazon – in Germany the selection there is rather poor but in other countries this could be a good source.

Specific links to the products I use:

Inks: Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash *
Cutting Tools: Pfeil *
Rollers: Speedball Soft Rubber Roller *
Brayer: Japanese Bamboo Baren *
Sharpening: Flexcut Slip Strop *

*) Affiliate link/advertising link – The links used are affiliate links. Through a purchase via the link I receive a small donation. But this has no effect on the price for you!

Some more shops that sell printmaking products (found on Cranfields website):


If you can’t find what you’re looking for, do a direct Google search. Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you because the search results are in languages I don’t understand 🤭 Maybe you can find lino printers in your country who you can ask for advice? This will make things a little easier.


Of course, you don’t have to buy the same products that I present to you. These are always personal recommendations based on my experience, which is why I highlight them. If you can’t find them at all in your area, and you can’t import them inexpensively, see what’s available to you. Because as with any hobby, it will probably not remain with a one-time order of products and you don’t want to go through a difficult ordering process with long shipping times again and again.

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

How to clean your relief inks

What is the best way to clean the printing block and roller after printing? Do I need special cleaners? Depending on which ink you use, cleaning is quite easy. Water-based inks are generally easy to clean, so they are particularly suitable for schools and other educational institutions. If you prefer to work with oil-based ink, you can choose between water-soluble and non-water-soluble.

Oil based and washable

The best of both worlds, as I like to say. Some companies have special inks on offer that are ideally suited to lino printing, print perfectly and deliver brilliant, silky glossy print results. Sounds too good to be true? My favorite since the beginning has been these: Caligo Safe Wash Relief Inks by Cranfield Colours. hey asked me to be their printmaking ambassador for a reason because I have been recommending their inks to everyone for 3 years now with 100% conviction.

Other companies also have oil based and water soluble inks available, for example: Speedball Art Professional Relief Ink, Charbonnel Aqua Wash and many more. Just Google “relief ink oil based washable/water soluble” yourself and you should quickly find what you are looking for. So far I have tested Charbonnel and Cranfield myself but I did not like the consistency of Charbonnel

Soap and water

So, how do you clean the oil-based water-soluble inks? With soap and water. I like to use washing-up liquid or curd soap, whereby curd soap cleans a little more thoroughly. Some rollers are not as easy to clean, then you can use a little baby oil or vegetable oil and dissolve the residue.

I clean all my devices at my work table. Put the block on an old cloth, then the back side is protected – because this should not get wet under any circumstances. Otherwise, the burlap incorporated on the back will cause the block to warp, and that can hardly be undone and is really a hindrance for future prints!

Now I get some fresh water in a (by now very dirty) small plastic box, dip a dishwashing sponge into it and wring it out again. Then I put a dash of dishwashing liquid on it, spread that on the sponge until it gets foamy. You can dissolve the ink on the lino block, mixing plate and roller beforehand with a little water from the spray bottle. Then you just rub the sponge over the block and all the ink comes off. Wipe it off and let it dry, done. It really is that simple. The blocks will no longer become completely clean, but that doesn’t matter, as long as the printing surface is!

Useful tools

Gloves are useful in any case – whether dishwashing glove, latex or nitrile you decide. I personally like nitrile because the gloves do not tear and fit comfortably tight. You should wear some to protect your nails from stains.

If you use oil-based inks that are not water-soluble, then vegetable oil is your best friend – you can dissolve the ink with it. Also useful is a stronger cleaner, such as Zest-It! This does not smell bad and gets off stains from rollers easily (unfortunately not available in Germany).


So, if you want to make it easy for yourself and achieve fantastic printing results, try one of the inks mentioned. I work exclusively with the Caligo Safe Wash Relief Inks from Cranfield, because they are easy to buy in Germany and many other countries.

More useful products can be found in this article: Linocut Printing Tools for Beginners

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

Do I need a printing press?

To make a long story short: It depends, as always. I worked without a press for the first 1.5 years and it worked well. But once you’ve had the pleasure of a press, you probably won’t want to miss it. But this is certain: you don’t need a press to get good printing results from your linoleum block! It just takes more effort.

The alternatives

But first I would like to show the alternatives to a printing press. Very useful are the so called barens. There are many different variations, the bamboo baren is the traditional tool in Japanese woodblock printing and also works very well for linoleum printing. It has a handle by which you can grip it and rub it across the paper in circular motions. I wouldn’t rely solely on that, though – I use it for a first pressing of the paper onto the linoleum block.

The other baren shown in the pictures is by Speedball Art and has a hard padded surface. This glides very nicely over the paper without damaging it, so it’s a useful tool I do recommend.

Wooden spoon

However, the wooden spoon is indispensable. You may be asking yourself whether a metal one is possible as well? Basically yes, but the metal can get quite warm, depending on how long and consistently you rub the paper! My wooden spoon was once part of a salad servers, you can also use those for cooking as long as the surface isn’t rough, cause can damage the paper.

You rub the spoon in circular movements over the ares of the design on your block, means you spare out the background, that you carved away. Therefore, the paper must be placed ON the block – and not, as is often done when stamping, block on paper.

Over time, the areas of the spoon that you rub over the paper will become polished and shiny but there are no disadvantages to this.

Another option are “pinch rollers” – these look very similar to the ink rollers and can also be used for this purpose. They are not my personal preference, cause you can’t build up the necessary pressure with these alone. I also find these less handy and user-friendly in comparison to the barens.

The hand printing press

Now let’s move on to the printing press. There are many different models in many different price ranges available. I limit this blogpost to the hand printing press that I bought in 2020 from Jan, known as Woodzilla. It cost 300 euros plus shipping from the Netherlands, and I was able to choose the color from a RAL color chart. It has the size A3, means an A3 paper can be printed with it wonderfully, also everything smaller A3. It was delivered with a felt mat, which distributes the pressure evenly over the entire surface.

Anyone who prints a lot and enjoys printing should consider making this investment, I have never regretted it. My first print with it was a revelation! Because the print result was so evenly and comparatively easily produced that I could hardly believe it.

The fact is that printing by hand (handburnishing) is wonderful, but also requires more patience and strength. You stand in a slightly stooped position for several minutes while you’re printing by hand only! At least, that’s how I always did it. It really goes on your back and causes pain! A high working table can help, but probably not everyone has this at home.


So my advice to aspiring lino printers is to learn to love the hobby before you buy a press. And as soon as you are ready and can afford it, do it! You won’t regret.

What else you will need as a lino printing beginner, you will learn in this article: Linocut printing tools for beginners

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

My style changes in linocut

To start with: I already developed my creative side as a child, much later even studied design and discovered my love for illustration during my studies. So in 2018, when I started with lino printing, I already brought a lot of motivation and creative background with me.

Still, at first I didn’t really know where I wanted to go stylistically in lino printing. And I’m honest – if I hadn’t found a style so “early” that I felt comfortable with, that was also suitable for lino printing and that I could reinvent again and again – maybe I would have lost interest.

But see for yourself how I approached piece by piece my current colorful works. I was inspired mainly by works of great tattoo artists like Imme Böhme, Susanne König (Suflanda) or Amanda Toy.

The comparison

In the summer of 2018 I started with lino printing. This black and white image of a Viking woman was basically my first girl and the beginning of a long series! I named her Lagertha, because I was so impressed by the same-named protagonist in the series “Vikings”.

Funny that I depicted my first motif right away “without eyes” or with closed eyes – because I was afraid that a too “rigid” expression could look lifeless. I eventually made this original thought a “trademark”, but rather out of necessity. Nevertheless, I would not want to change it any more!

Classical Linocut

These works from 2018 look somehow “typical” for linoleum, and although I liked that, I did not feel it 100% – totally okay, I was just starting out! More “one-dimensional” works in black color only followed. But it wasn’t really working out for me.

Using Color

The snake and skull print was my first experiment of layering colors. I had two blocks and two designs that belonged to each other. Well, who recognizes the theme? It’s a bit abstract I know, haha – it’s “The Dark Mark” from Harry Potter! And I was one step closer to multi color printing as I do today.

Then I created the picture with the cicadas and the peonies – I understood how important colors are to me and how much you can change the expression of a picture based on the colors.

The hype was real

In October 2018 I designed the first girl that was formative for my work today! THIS was absolutely what I wanted to do in linocut! I was totally hyped by the result and drew the next design right away. And the next and the next. In the process, I put more and more symbolism into the individual elements. Well, and the rest is history. I’m so excited to see if my work in 3 years will still look like it does today or if my style will change again.

Serial work

I love it, it’s incredibly easy for me to design new theme girls because this “framework” is infinitely expandable. This has given me a lot of “security” and support to be creative. Because the structure is always the same, I can concentrate on the “creative” part, on the symbolism, the colors.


Most important: Give yourself time! Finding your own style is not something you can force. Mostly it’s a development that takes its time and sometimes it happens faster, sometimes it takes longer. Also it’s always in flux, because the more secure we feel in drawing, the more willing we are to make excursions in other directions and take inspiration from here and there.

If you need more input on lino printing and finding your style, then this article will be exciting for you. Here I show which simple styles I think are good for lino printing beginners!

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

4 simple illustration styles for linocut

Are you good at drawing? Do you think you have to be good at it to make “beautiful” art? Or do you just lack inspiration? These and similar questions concern many creatives, and they can inhibit us from creating anything at all. But art lives from the fact that we do things differently and bring in our own view of the world.

For a quick win, I’m going to show you 4 “simple” illustration styles that are best suited for multicolor lino printing – and simple is not meant in a judgmental way, but more on that later.

#1 Abstract shapes

Abstract shapes have something very timeless, classic. Here, the colors and their harmony with each other play an important role. But also the proportions and the arrangement of the forms make the charm of this style. A motif can express lightness or heaviness, it can appear balanced by a symmetrical arrangement of elements or dynamic if you work with an asymmetry. This is a very beginner-friendly style for anyone who wants to learn lino printing.

The results are sure to succeed, as carving the shapes is easy even for the inexperienced. In addition, the shapes can be arranged in any way each time, which invites experimentation.

#2 Floral

Floral shapes are always something for the eye – and not at all difficult to draw! Forget about realistic illustrations – you can’t do much wrong here. Because the organic forms of nature encourage abstraction. The overprinting of different leaves and branches in various colors can thus become a bouquet of flowers or a jungle. Good to combine with some abstract shapes.

#3 Minimalistic landscapes

A style that has been particularly trendy for a few years now – and with good reason! You can hardly get enough of landscapes. Our choice of color decides whether the landscape is rather in a hot place or whether a cool fjord is part of the picture. If you love traveling, you can perfectly express this passion in your pictures.

In principle, the pictures are always structured quite similarly. We can depict hills or dunes by building up the lower half of the picture in a wave-like manner. A sun or a moon on the horizon, done! This style leaves quite a lot of room for individuality.

#4 Typography

I have to admit – typography is a design discipline all of its own, and one that I have a lot of respect for! The challenge here is not so much in carving and printing, but rather in having a feeling for a font and finding the “right words”. Still, it counts as one of the “simple” illustration styles for me (please forgive me, dear typographers) because it’s easier to craft than some other styles and you can set the entrance lower ut still create something beautiful!

Words are powerful – they can strengthen and motivate us, bring us closer to each other. Therefore, I can only encourage everyone to dare to try this art.


These are just 4 examples of how you can create wonderful art with reduced shapes and all of them are perfectly suitable for lino printing. They also leave room for your drawing development and you can always modify them, reinvent them or change them by using a different color set. Find more inspiration on my Pinterest board.

I personally love serial work because it gives me a “safe” framework within which I can experiment. If you know my work, you can tell that the basic structure of my girls never really changes. But the theme does! So it’s incredibly easy for me to come up with a new design because I start with a “safe framework” each time – and not from 0.

My advice to those who want to start with lino printing: Pick a (simple) style that you like right away and stick with it for now. Please don’t copy, that should be clear! But with each work that goes in the same direction as the previous one, you will gain confidence and all by itself more and more own thoughts flow in. Find out more about my journey in this article.

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide

Linocut printing tools for beginners

The question of all questions: What tools do you need as a lino printing beginner? Of course, you don’t want to spend a lot of money at the beginning and certainly not on the “wrong” materials. Still, I can only advise not to go for the cheapest materials, because they have one major drawback: without practice and skill, they can frustrate you very quickly.

I have read many horror stories about lino printing in school. They all have blunt tools and hard linoleum plates in common – and sometimes bad injuries! So I think a mix of beginner and professional products is a better choice.

In this article, I’ll tell you which products you can save money on and which you’d rather spend a little more on.

Carving tools

A tool that either makes your work much easier or much more difficult. Here I would not save money and advise to rather reach for the more expensive knives that professionals also use. Because in the beginning 3 different sizes are quite enough! The cheap set blades, however, blunt very quickly and often can not be sharpened. The result: the blade slips easily, which significantly increases the risk of injury.

I find a v-shaped blade very useful for line work. My choice would be a medium size, because with little pressure you can carve fine lines and with more pressure you can carve deeper grooves! A very wide and flat blade is best for carving out larger areas, such as backgrounds. Third, you can do little wrong with a wide u-shaped blade.

Ink rollers

With ink rollers, you can go for cheaper models. I prefer soft rubber rollers, because they distribute the ink more evenly over the block. For starters, two rollers are enough, for example, one narrow and one medium width. Of course, this depends a lot on the size and detail of your design. I work exclusively in A4, so I get along very well with these sizes.


Oil-based or water-based? My advice: Always oil-based – but they should be washable! Because indeed, there are oil-based inks for which you need special cleaners. But also there are oil-based inks that you can clean very easily with water and dishwashing detergent – it works like a dream! “Caligo Safe Wash Relief Inks” from the British company Cranfield Colours belong in this category and they are the hot tip for anyone who wants to work with linoleum.

The disadvantage of water-based inks is mainly the processing time, because the water component dries very quickly. So if you want to make a lot of prints of a design, you quickly get frustrated because the mixed ink dries on the roller and the lino block which negatively affects the print result. With oil-based inks, on the other hand, you can work for hours – of course, the print doesn’t dry immediately either, so you have to keep that in mind!

The print result also differs: that of a water-based ink feels a bit rough and looks matt, that of an oil-based ink silky soft and slightly glossy.


In my experience, you don’t need expensive, fancy paper for a high-quality look and feel. I buy my paper at a print shop and have it cut to my preferred standard size of 30×40 cm. It is 160 g heavy paper, which is also used for printing flyers, magazines and other print products. The very specific one I use is called „Design Offset White“.

Note: The heavier the paper, the more difficult it is to achieve a consistent print result, especially without a press.

Lino blocks

Traditional grey lino is my favorite, often found under the name “Battleship Grey”. Brown linoleum crumbles faster, and softcut or vinyl panels cut differently. Personally, these alternatives simply lack the feel of “real” linoleum – the smell and feel matter to me.


If you do not want to invest in a press at the beginning, you can work perfectly with a wooden spoon and a Japanese baren. You need a little more time and patience, but you can create just as beautiful prints as with a press!


Two things that are not worth saving on: ink and carving tools. They make the massive difference between fun and frustration later on. On the other hand, you can compare prices for paper, ink rollers and printing tools. When it comes to lino blocks, there’s not that much difference price-wise – the combination of sharp carving tools and traditional grey lino blocks is ideal I think.

Linocut Tool Guide

Still unsure which tools and products you need for your lino printing starter kit? Just download my guide with product recommendations for linocut beginners – on 6 pages I list all the materials and tools I need to make my colorful prints – and you can do it too!

Get that Guide