Laura Boswell ARE – Printmaker

How to raise grain on wood for printing

Here’s how to turn a smooth plank into a beautiful raised grain woodblock.

I always rely on burning wood to raise the grain rather than chemicals. This way I know the print’s not going to be in contact with any lurking chemicals. This is a cheap pine plank - pine often gives a fantastic grain, but you can try this with any wood. I recommend a nifty self igniting blow torch (easy to find at the DIY store) - so much more superhero than fiddling with matches... Burn the wood until it is cracking and blistering which will take a few minutes and then work over with a wire brush. Wire brushes come in all sizes so choose your weapon to match your wood and be brisk, but gentle. You want to clear the soft burnt wood away leaving the harder grain, not scratch a whole new texture into the wood. Finally scrub well with soap and water until the water runs clean. (Your wood may need clamping while it dries to prevent it bending - this plank’s too thick to warp) and you are good to go. Happy Printing!