John Jānis Šteins

:: Artist ::

Oops! This is what happens with too much pressure.

broken wood engraving block This is what happens when the press pressure is too great. A broken block!

For printing, I’ve been using my etching press fitted with a carrier – illustrated here – to distribute the immense force generated by the steel roller over my wood engraving blocks. It works very well, producing beautiful impressions, assuming all the other variables are under control.

This engraving shows a crooked building in Dawson City and I was preparing to do a run of these prints tonight until I heard the crunch as I cranked it through my press while setting up the press, etc.

So, what to do? Out with the cyanoacrylate glue, otherwise known as super-glue, except, in this case, it’s formulated for wood repairs. It will hold incredibly well. The two parts mated together perfectly and after clamping I cleaned the squeezed out glue with acetone. Otherwise, I’d be trying to re-work passages filled with dried glue.

wood engraving block repair

On closer inspection, I noticed that both halves didn’t line up perfectly so we’ll see what happens when I pull the first print from the repair.

This is a block I prepared myself out of a single piece. A better practice would be to glue re-sawn boxwood onto a substrate like Baltic Birch plywood. It works well with smaller engravings.

Hopefully, this repair job will do the trick.


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  1. Martin South of France August 3, 2021

    Many thanks for this…..only a few years late. I inherited a number of woodbock engravings from my step father, Derek Riley (especially known as a designer of organ screens the world over and for his ex-libris wood engravings). Some were in perfect condition but others had been badly stored and separated over the years. With very careful attention I was able to save most of the damaged ones.

  2. John Steins August 3, 2021 — Post author

    Martin, thanks for dropping by and commenting. Designer of organ screens! Amazing. Talk about specialization. I found a few of his ex-libris online. Sweet! Yeah, I think the superglue remedy works in most cases. Glad you were able to save his legacy.


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