How Do Wood Engravings Differ From Woodcuts? [A Detailed Guide]

Wood engravings and woodcuts produce quite a similar result though there are some differences in the making. There are some major differences in making. So, how do wood engravings differ from woodcuts? 

Wood engravings are created on end-grain wood, while woodcuts are created on plankwise wood. The woodblock of wood engravings should be cut across the growth rings. Wood engravings include more details than woodcuts. Also, wood engraving is made on a smaller block of wood.

Woodcut technique is much older than wood engravings. Go through the article to check more about the differences and processes.

Wood Engraving Vs Woodcuts: Check The Differences

Wood engraving and woodcuts are basically relief print techniques that are made using woodblocks. First, they get the drawing into woodblocks and carve the wood. The uncut areas will be inked with oil-based ink to transfer the print to wood.

Check the differences between the printmaking methods below.

TypeWood EngravingWoodcuts
Wood Made on end-grain woodMade on Plankwise wood
Block SizeBlocks are smallerLarger blocks
DetailsContain details of the artDon’t contain many details
InkMostly use oil-based relief inkGamblin oil-based ink

Major Differences Between Wood Engraving and Woodcuts: Check Now 

Wood engraving and woodcuts look quite similar. There are slight differences in the making. Here are the details about the differences.

Wood Type

There are different types of wood used for wood engraving and woodcuts. For wood engraving, it’s required to use end-grain wood. When wood is cut across the growth rings, it’s end-grain wood. On the other hand, plankwise wood is used for woodcuts. Plankwise means cutting the wood across the grain, not parallel to it.

Block Size

Wood engraving and woodcuts are usually made on different sizes of blocks. Wood engraving is made on small blocks of wood, while woodcuts are made on larger blocks of wood. 


As wood engraving is made on the smaller size of blocks, it usually contains much more detail than woodcuts. Woodcuts don’t contain many details and can be drawn easily. This is why wood engraving is quite popular among professionals.


The final difference is the ink type. Oil-based relief ink is mainly used for wood engraving. This ink does get the detail into paper better than the others. On the other hand, Gamblin oil-based ink is used for woodcuts.

I guess now you know what differentiates wood engravings from woodcuts. They both have lots of similarities in the making, but these facts are the reason why they are not the same.

How Do You Engrave On Wood?

Wood engraving requires detailed art and perfectly shaped woodblock. Here is a detailed guideline that will help you to make wood engraving yourself.

Step 1: Get Wood Block

First, choose a block for wood engraving. Wood engraving is usually done on a small piece of wood. Also, it’s a must to get wood from end-grain for wood engraving. Paint it with black ink to see the contrast between the marks you are engraving and the wood surface of the block.

Step 2: Trace The Art

Trace the part of your drawing that you want to transfer on the woodblock into tracing paper using a pencil. Trace just the outline, as it’s not required to trace the details. You will trace the details during the engraving process.

Step 3: Trace The Drawing Into WoodBlock

Place the tracing paper into the woodblock and retrace the outline. It’s recommended to use an HB pencil for tracing the outline. Once the outline is complete, check if there is any outline left. Complete the outline with a pen or pencil.

Step 4: Engrave The Drawing

The most popular tools for wood engraving are Lozenge Graver and  Spitsticker. These tools are effective in making curves in the woodblock. Draw the outline into the woodblock. Cut the areas that you want completely white on the print.

For printing, you are required to use a press and oil-based relief ink.

Step 5: Get The Ink

Use a roller and get the ink into the roller first. Place a small amount of ink into a smooth board surface. Take the roller and roll the ink till it’s very smooth. Now, roll the ink into the block you made by using the roller. Make sure the ink sparks all over the block. 

Step 6: Print Into The Block

Well, you are ready to get the print. Take a piece of paper and place it into the block. Now, place them into the platen of the press machine. Pull the arm to put pressure into the paper and the block. Congrats, now you have your print into the paper by using the wood engraving process. 

What Is The Process Of Woodcut?

Find a suitable wood block with a pencil, paper, ink, sharpening, and carving tools to get started for a woodcut. Check the step-by-step instructions for making woodcuts.

Step 1: Draw Your Image

The process starts with the drawing. Draw the object you have in mind. Take a piece of paper and draw anything you want. Add as much detail as you can to the drawing.

Step 2: Get Woodblock

Get the woodblock and make sure it doesn’t have any stains or marks on the surface. Take a perfectly shaped woodblock for a better output. Plankwise wood is best for woodcuts.

Step 3: Get the Drawing Into Woodblock

Once the woodblock and the drawing are ready, get the drawing on the woodblock. To get that, place the paper on the woodblock and make sure the drawing is facing the surface of the woodblock. 

Apply pressure on the paper with your hand or any other object but make sure the paper is not moving. You may draw directly on the woodblock if your drawing doesn’t include any number or letter.

Step 4: Complete The Drawing

Remove the paper and check how many details you got from the drawing. Complete any missing part with a pencil. Woodcut doesn’t usually contain much detail, and you can ignore the details if you want. Cut the paper with the exact size of the woodblock

Step 5: Carve The WoodBlock

Now, carve the woodblock. You can use the u-shaped gouges to complete the carving. Don’t carve too deep, as it may damage the woodblock. Just a simple scratch with the gouge will be fine for a woodcut. 

Step 6: Print Your Block

You are ready for the final step. Use a roller to place the ink into the block. It’s recommended to use Gamblin oil-based ink for woodcuts. Make sure the ink is placed evenly on the block.

Step 7: The Final Step

Here comes the final step of the woodcut process. Place the woodcut and the paper into a press machine and apply pressure to the paper. The paper can be pressed with a book or something that has an even surface if you don’t have a press machine. 


What Kind Of Wood Do You Use For Wood Engraving?

Wood engraving is an art and requires special wood. You will get better results by using the perfect wood. Lighter wood shades will make the art more visible. Also, look for wood that has minimal streaking for better detailing.

To get a better result for wood engraving, you may use Oak, Walnut, and Maple wood. These wood has very high resin content and also are light in color. Basswood and Balsa can also be two good picks for wood engraving. 

What Is The Easiest Wood To Engrave?

As you need to stamp or draw wood designs, choosing softwood will be better. For wood engraving, basswood will be the easiest wood. The wood slice of basswood is soft and can be completed with less pressure.

Basswood will hold the detail of wood engraving and will be a perfect choice for beginners and professionals as well. The brown streak will make any design look better.

How Do You Identify A Woodcut?

It is not a difficult task to distinguish between a woodcut and a wood engraving. Woodcut is basically relief prints that apply ink to the raised part of the design. The artist applies ink to the face of the block and prints using low pressure.

In the woodcut shading in a woodcut is achieved by making small cuts in the wood. That’s how you can identify woodcut art.

Can Woodcuts Be Printed In Color?

Woodcut is a popular form of art made on a block of wood. There are different types of woodcuts. You can even add color to your woodcut art. Creating a woodcut with black and white is the most popular among artists. 

You can add color to your woodcut. Once the image outline is printed, add color to the blocks. This will let you print the woodcut in color. 

What Is The Benefit Of Wood Engraving?

Wood engraving has a couple of advantages that made it popular among artists. Wood engraving is small art that contains better details. This way, wood engraving makes it easier to get the perfect print. 

Wood engraving differs from commercial printing and can be identified because of the fine details. The precise carving of lines in wood engraving makes the design more appealing than other designs.

Final Thoughts

I guess now you know how do wood engravings differ from woodcuts. People often confuse the making process and consider them the same. Wood engraving is popular among professionals as it includes more details and requires patience while making.  

The types of wood required for the techniques are totally different. Carving the art into wood is the most important step in making wood engravings or woodcuts.


Woodcut, Woodblock, and Wood Engraving Defining the Medium favored by Albrecht Dürer and Katsushika Hokusai. (2017, October 19). Fine Art News.

Wood engraving. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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