For those who are unfamiliar with this medium, wood engraving is a relief printmaking process done in much the same way as a regular woodblock print. The difference is the orientation of the wood grain in relation to the cutting tools. A woodcut print is made on the long plank side of the wood whereas in wood engraving the end-grain surface is used. And it can’t be just any old wood. End grain boxwood, maple, lemonwood, or other suitable tight-grained woods are prepared to make a larger surface to engrave upon. Handheld cutting tools called gravers are used to cut the design, some of which are similar to those used for metal or jewelry engraving. There are other non-traditional means of incising lines such as a Dremel type engraving tool.

Thomas Bewick of England adopted this technique for making many illustrations in the eighteenth century. It soon became a way of illustrating newspapers and other publications.

This art form enjoyed a revival in the early twentieth century by printmakers and small presses.