Linoleum Plates-Wood Backing

Hello All,

I recently purchased a 12 inch by 25 foot roll of linoleum (from Dick Blick, battleship gray). My intention is to experiment a lot with carving plates, borders, letters, etc.

My current predicament is that the linoleum is from the roll, without wood behind it (the cheaper option always has a downside)

The question: What type of wood is best to use behind the linoleum?
What kind of glue should I use? Or is there something else?
Any information on making my own linoleum plates would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance :)

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Oh, perhaps I should add that I’m using a Vandercook Sp15 manual.

I purchase the same roll from Dick Blick. Go to Home Depot and buy an 4’ x 8’, 3/4” sheet of particle board. Then have them cut it down to 12” x 18”, it’s a small cutting fee.

Lay your linoleum down and place the particle board on top and trim (you can store your roll as needed). Then use Elmer’s wood glue to spread an even coat on the back of the linoleum and the top of the particle board. Then place 6-7 pieces of the particle board on top to give weight so it’s flat. Wait 2-3 hours until glue is dry.

Your’e ready to carve.

Casey McGarr
Inky lips Letterpress

That lino is great. Just make sure you use it in a timely manner— it does harden with age and gets difficult to cut eventually!

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY


Good point. However, I’ve had my Battleship Gray roll for 10 months and it’s still good. I have linocuts 10 years old and they print beautifully. It’s possible that they have remained in good condition being stored in a closet inside the house.

Casey McGarr
Inky Lips Letterpress
Jonesboro, AR

I would recommend MDF since it is very consistent in it’s thickness it also has no voids in it as a lot of plywood products do. Another product that I use is Baltic Birch plywood which is very consistent in thickness and during its manufacture any voids or knot holes are filled with plugs of the same wood so you do not have to worry about voids or soft spots which would be a big pain in the ^&^%( since you wouldn’t find most of them until after you have run the items through the press a few times. If it was going to be something I was going to keep and use repeatedly for as long as the linoleum stays good I would go with the Baltic Birch plywood. One other thing that I do that saves a little on wood is I cut my wood to a size I can lock up in my chase and then I get a sheet of metal maybe 22 or 26 gauge which you can get from Home Depot and I adhere this to the face of the plywood. I then use double sided adhesive tape to mount the linoleum onto the block. When I am done I just scrape off the old lino with a putty knife and stick a new sheet on and go to carving.

The Dog House Press

My experience is that the linoleum hardens with age. If this happens after you’ve cut it then it shouldn’t be a problem. It might even make it more durable.

But if you still have a whole bunch left on the roll and it is two or three years old you’re going to have a heck of a time using it. Cutting it is hard on your hands!



Oh yeah, I use Battleship gray for nice lines and Golden Cut for quick and easy cutting. The tools seem to slip across BSG and the GC’s easy as butter almost.


Hey thanks everyone. I really appreciate your input, I like the sound of the Baltic Birch Plywood, although I might have particle board lying around.

what about using spray adhesive instead of double sided tape? Too weak?

Dan, I intend on carving A LOT, so hopefully I won’t have any excess linoleum to worry about (although 25 feet is a whole lot).

thanks again

Be careful that if using double stick tape that the tape thickness doesn’t raise the linoleum higher than the spots without tape. Print variation where paper meets the linocut could be problematic.

Inky Lips Letterpress

Erin, a spray adhesive could work just as well as long as it is used properly. Depending on the type sometimes it is required to apply it to only one surface and sometimes you apply it to both. If I was using either spray or tape I would recommend that when you mount the lino give the adhesive time to set. I would also recommend placing a weight on top of the block to add some pressure. One of the things to be careful with if using a spray adhesive is there can be a tendency not to spray it on in an even coat which can lead to high spots. I usually get the widest double sided tape I can find and cover the back of the lino with strips. Be careful to but the tape edges as close together as possible but try not to overlap them. If you have wide gaps between the tape or it overlaps it will transfer through to the printing surface I can tell yo this from first hand experience. One other thing you are going to have to pay attention to because of the type of press you are using. There can be problems with the lino moving on the block which is caused by the cylinder contacting the front edge first and the pressure from the cylinder. Since the lino is a relatively soft material it can create a sort of wave in front of the leading edge of the cylinder. The best way to prevent this is to make sure whichever adhesive you choose has time to set and develop a good bond. One other thing you can do is allow a little extra on your lino block outside of your image area and taper the the leading edge of the lino so when the cylinder does come in contact with the block it will be more gradual as opposed to hitting up against the squared edge of the lino.

Good Luck, Robert

Very good info to have. I’ve wanted to break out the old carving tools for awhile now, and have always wondered about mounting my linoleum.


I’d think the longer the linoleum stays rolled, the harder it will be to adhere it flat. Consider cutting the roll into sheets and flattening them between boards for storage.
As it ages and hardens, you can use heat (say, a hotplate or heat gun) to soften it for easier cutting.
It also may help to use spray glue the same way one would use contact cement: apply to both surfaces, let it set up a little, then join, and weight. And with MDF you want to remove any dust or loose fiber from the surface before glueing, maybe even seal it.

Seems like a newby linoleum carver, is taking the cart before the horse to prepare his own blocks when you can buy them so cheap. My advice is to buy a couple of nice blocks from an art store, a good book on linoleum carving and really the best carving tools you an find. Try it out. See if you are really enraptured with carving. IF YES, then cut up your gray stock to a size that will fit your best size and shape media. Then lay them flat under a weight for a while, maybe for a month. Carve some more on store bought.
Then get some good backing wood cut to the right size and begin the process of glueing a pressing each block until you have all you want or can get from your stock.
Carve some more. Linoleum block carving is like writing. You must keep at it to get really proficient.
We’ll all be watching for your progress. BILL

I too carve linoleum. I like the speedball brand of mounted golden cut. It comes on very nice dense MDF. The problem is paying shipping on the backing. Storage is also a consideration. I recently bought a 36” x 25’ roll. Mostly because I wanted to do some larger cuts. Even truck freight was affordable when compared to shipping for large mounted blocks.
Can’t wait to see your work.
Here is some of mine.

Hi Boundstaff

Love your prints! Do you run regular linoleum blocks through a letterpress press? Or just a proofing press?

Can you run linoleum blocks on a platen press?


Mike, I have printed my blocks in an etching press, proof press, tabletop lever press, and my 10x15 C&P Craftsman. By far the best result is the C&P.
Be careful if you are using a light duty machine like a Pearl or Pilot. I have pushed passed the limit on my 6.5 x 10 lever press, and there comes a point where the little press can not deliver enough pressure to print a large image. Linoleum does require a little more pressure than wood, poly plate or mag cut. Be careful, and have fun.

Thanks Boundstaff. I have a pilot and an 8x12 Gordon. The blocks I want to print at the moments are fairly small (3x5 or similar) so I will probably try them on the pilot first. If it works I’ll move to larger ones on the Gordon. I’m looking forward to it.


I find that the old rule about using 1/4 of the area of your platen holds true with linoleum. Of course line work prints more clearly and with less pressure than large solid areas.