How to clear a large area when wood carving?

Hello All,

I’m working on my steam roller block to have it ready for the end of the month to print at the Deep Ellum Steam Roller event. I have been using a Dremel tool for all the detailed carving, which I’m almost finished with. However, I need to clear some areas of the MDF block which are pretty large and I’m not sure how to clear those areas. I have pictures of my detailed carving attached here. You can see in the second picture I have a large border around the artwork that I want to print white. I’ve been carving into the MDF just slightly to give the block a slight relief, but now I need to clear the outer frame (border) of the block. Any suggestions on how to clear a large area in relief for steam roller printing?


The easiest thing would be to simply cut off the sides that aren’t to be printed. Reserve (and bring) the cutoffs so they can be slid next to your block for support when the steamroller rolls.

You could just get a gouge and chisel off the unneeded area.
You could use a router to do the same. (@jeffbob may have a router and be willing to help you with that.)

The downside of the “removing stuff on either side of the letters” is that during inking, some ink will invariably get on that area. The texture can be cool, but if it’s not part of your design vision, you may get frustrated.


Lisa, I am a former DMS member who happens to own a CNC router that would make quick work of milling off the borders. Shop is in the Alliance area between Fort Worth & Denton. If you want to bring it to the shop, I could mill it while you wait. Drop me a message if you want to proceed.
Bert Rabbe

PS: You don’t want to know how fast all that Dremel work could have been done!


Could you place triangular waste pieces of paper over the print paper in the waste areas such that any inadvertent contact in that area would transfer ink to the waste paper?

Would there be any image transfer if that part of the block received zero ink?


I too vote for a small router.


It depends on the person doing the hand-inking. The ink roller is large and heavy. Since Lisa’s design is placed in the center of the block, the ink roller will have to lean over to get to the part to be inked, and, well, tipping of the roller can happen.

But yes, masking with paper is an option either during inking or during printing.


Masking during inking sounds more reliable to me. Hadn’t considered that as an option.

Thanks Judy. There is so much I don’t know about the steam rolling process and I’ve been doing this on my own in quarantine. My original vision was to do this on the Multicam at DMS, but then the lock down happened so then I thought I would try my hand at the Dremel. It has taken hours to carve this.

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hmmm, that’s an idea

So, then if I use the masking option should I still visit @bertberaht at his shop and remove the areas I will mask off also. Is it necessary to do both or could I just mask off during inking or printing on the day of steam rolling?

Well, I think you still need to cut away what you want to remain white. Otherwise that hard edge will be lost. Bert cutting on his equipment will be the most painless and efficient.

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Hi printmakers! :wave: I’ve worked with @bertberaht and he is wonderful! I would take him up on his offer :grinning:

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