The best lino printing kit, supplies and tools to buy
Printmaking is an enjoyable and versatile art form! In this guide, we'll show you all of the lino printing kit you need to create your own beautiful designs
Lino printing is a fun, creative art form and once you give it a go you're bound to be hooked! This printmaking technique involves carving a design into a block of lino before covering it with ink and printing your finished design.
In this guide, we'll be exploring the materials you need to make your own beautiful lino prints, covering everything from what printing inks to buy to whether you should invest in a printing press. If you're new to lino printing, we'd recommend checking out our lino printing for beginners guide before you get started – it explains the basic techniques you'll need to make your first lino prints.
Lino printing is a popular medium used by artists and lino printing kit can be very expensive, but there are more affordable sets available. Many people get their first taste of lino printing in school art classes using very basic sets and are still able to produce stunning original prints. In this guide, we'll look at lino printing supplies to suit a range of budgets with a section on lino printing presses for more experienced printmakers.
You'll also find some recommendations for lino printing kits, which often contain everything you need to get printing right away. Read on to discover what lino printing kit you'll need to stock up on.
Follow the links below to jump to a section:
- Lino printing ink
- Lino printing presses
- Lino printing paper
- Lino printing tools
- Lino printing rollers (brayers)
- Lino printing kits (everything you need to get started)
- Lino printing books
Best lino printing kit to buy in 2022
Lino printing inks come in two forms: water-based and oil-based. Choose the right inks to add to your lino printing kit can help to take your prints to the next level, resulting in a more professional finish.
When you're learning to print, you'll probably start using water-based inks – these are usually cheaper and wash out of your clothes easily. They're also suitable for children to use. They come in a wide selection of bold colours and are a good choice for beginners to buy. You can find lino printing inks in most art or craft shops and they are sometimes referred to as block printing ink.
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Oil-based inks are often more expensive, but they're much better quality and will allow you to produce more professional-looking lino prints. A little ink will go a long way, so they'll last you for a long time. When choosing your inks, it's a good idea to look for a renowned brand such as Schmincke or Cranfield to make sure you're getting the best possible quality. However, some online art shops produce their own inks, which can be very good. Unlike water-based inks, oil-based printing inks can take longer to dry – especially if you apply them thickly – and may remain tacky for up to a week. Some oil-based inks can be used on textiles as well as paper, so you can also use it to create your own unique printed fabric! (Please note that if you use inks for printing onto fabric, you usually need to heat seal them following the manufacturer's instructions so that your design doesn't wash out.)
If you're a vegan, make sure you check the product specification before buying your inks as some brands use animal tallow, but fortunately there are plenty of printing inks on the market which are suitable for vegans.
Essdee premium block printing ink
If you're new to printmaking or if you're printing with children and don’t want to spend lots of money, this set of water-based lino printing inks is a good choice. If you get it onto any surfaces, it will wash off easily. It includes five generous tubes of ink, which can be blended to create any colour you can imagine! This ink will create vibrant prints in bold colours, which is great for printing simple designs. Essdee also has a selection of metallic inks if you want to add a bit of sparkle to your prints. When you’re ready to create more detailed or intricate prints, I'd recommend uploading to an oil-based set. Top tip: if you find your ink is too sticky, just add a drop of washing up liquid to the inks before rolling it out.
Schmincke Aqua linoprint ink set
Schmincke has a good reputation for producing high-quality printing inks and this set is no exception. It's a water-based acrylic ink which comes in a selection of light-fast shades. Although the tubes are fairly small (20ml), you'll find that a little ink goes a long way so this set is great value for money. This lino printing ink set includes five colours for you to blend together and experiment with. The ink dries very quickly (within 15 minutes!), which is great if you want to layer inks on top of each other.
Schmincke College lino printing ink
Schmincke's College range includes some eyecatching colours such as neon magenta and bright red. They're not too expensive, starting from £5.73 for a 75ml tube. If you're planning to do a lot of black prints, opt for a larger 237ml tub – it will definitely last a long time! These inks are water-based and dry very quickly, so they're great for beginners or students to use.
Permaset Aqua Supercover printing ink
Permaset's Aqua Supercover is a great ink to use for block printing on fabric. They're highly durable and won't fade much over time and come in a good range of colours. When you use these inks, you'll need to heat-set them using an iron so that the colours won't come out in the wash. The inks come in large tubs and will last for a long time.
Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash ink
Cranfield Caligo Safe Wash ink is my go-to range for lino printing. It's very reliable and is available in a wide range of oil-based colours, including metallic inks. The printing quality is excellent and you don't need to use a lot of ink each time, so it'll take a long time to use up your inks. I've always had great results with this range and the colours won't fade over time. It's available in small tubes and larger tubs, so you can try them out before buying the ink in large volumes.
If you really get into your lino printing, you may wish to invest in a lino printing press. These come in a variety of sizes, the smallest ones are usually around A4 size, but they can be much, much bigger. If you're an amateur, you're unlikely to need a larger press and may find that you can do everything you want to do with an A4 or A3 press.
Lino printing presses come in different forms – some use a lever to press the paper against the lino block, while others use rollers or a screw. You can also use a book press to create a small prints or even a die-cutting machine for smaller designs.
If you're printing at home, a small printing press is probably going to be the most practical choice if you don't have a dedicated craft room or workshop. Here are a few which we would recommend:
Pooki presses are an excellent choice for amateur printmakers. They're made by a small company in the Forest of Dean in the UK and use a lever mechanism to apply pressure to your paper and printing block. The resulting prints are very clear and crisp!
Pooki presses are available in variety of sizes from A4 up to A2, so you can choose the right size for your printing needs. As an added bonus, you're able to buy your printing press in a variety of funky colours, such as Luscious Lime and Tantalising Turquoise. They're very well-made and sturdy, so they should last a lifetime. Prices start from £200 for an A4 press.
Woodzilla hand lino press
This reliable lino printing press comes in a range of sizes from A5 to A2 and uses a similar mechanism to the Pooki presses. Woodzilla's printing presses are good value for money and are hugely popular with printmakers. It has a good selection of colours to choose from too. These printing presses are manufactured and shipped from the Netherlands, so check you're happy with the delivery costs before you order!
Book binding press
Don't let the name fool you! Book binding presses can also be used for lino printing. The screw mechanism allows you to vary the pressure applied to your block very easily. This press applies even pressure to the block, resulting in clear prints. This printing press allows you to create prints up to A4 size.
Fome manual lino press
If you're looking for a small press, the Fome manual lino press is another good choice. It's quite small (the maximum print size is 20 x 25cm), but it's robust and very straightforward to use. You can adjust the pressure of the press by varying the thickness of the blanket you use with it (felt blankets are often used with printing presses).
Blick Econo Etch Model II Press
Looking to buy a lino printing press in the US? Art supplier Dick Blick has a good range of printing presses to choose from, such as the Blick Econo Etch Model II press. This printing press uses a wheel and solid steel rollers to apply pressure to your printing block, unlike the lever presses we've mentioned previously. This portable press is a good buy for a printmaking novice who wants to take their art to the next level. It produces excellent quality prints and means that you don't have to spend ages burnishing your print by hand! It also comes with a two-year guarantee.
Blick 999 Model II Etching Press
Another great printing press from Dick Blick, the Blick 999 Model II Etching Press is designed for artists to use. Like the smaller model, it uses steel rollers to produce your prints, but this press is larger and can make prints up to 17 x 35 inches (43 x 89 cm). This is a robust printing press that's easily adjustable so you can apply more or less pressure to your prints. Choose this press if you're a more experience printer and you're looking to produce larger designs.
You can't get printing without lino! Lino for printmaking comes in a few different forms: soft cut, see-through, mounted (for block printing and stamping) and traditional battleship grey lino. Some brands will add a colour to their lino to make it easier to carve.
Lino blocks vary in texture – grey lino will flake away as you carve it, while soft cut lino has a more rubbery texture. If you struggle to carve your designs into grey lino, then opt for soft cut. Soft cut sheets are made of polymer and can often be carved on both sides, so you get two sheets for the price of one. If you're planning to stamp a design or create a block to reuse regularly, go for a mounted block – it will last well and won't warp. Some lino blocks may bend, so try to store them lying flat.
If you decide to progress to making larger prints, some art shops stock large rolls of lino and will be able to cut it to the size you need.
When looking for lino, popular brands such as Essdee are a good choice and lino is often sold in multi packs.
Essdee traditional grey lino
Essdee is one of the biggest suppliers of lino for printmaking. It produces packs of lino in various sizes, from 15cm x 10cm up to 30cm x 40cm and each pack usually includes two sheets. Traditional grey lino can sometimes be tricky to carve, especially in a cold room. For best results, try warming your printing block before you start – a hairdryer is really useful for this! Or you can leave them on a radiator to soften a little before you start carving.
- Buy the Essdee 15cm x 10cm lino pack of 2 from Amazon for £2.75
- Buy the Essdee 30cm x 20cm lino pack of 2 from Amazon for £8.72
- Buy the Essdee 40cm x 30cm lino pack of 2 from Amazon for £12.74
Artway lino packs
When you're ready to start creating larger prints, Artway's lino packs are great value for money. The quality of the lino is comparable to Essdee and it's available in much larger sizes. You can order a pack of three lino sheets from A4 (21cm x 30cm) up to A2 (42cm x 60cm) and they're brilliant value for money.
- Buy an Artway A4 lino pack of three from Amazon for £14.99
- Buy an Artway A3 lino pack of three from Amazon for £23.99
- Buy an Artway A2 lino pack of three from Amazon for £42.99
Essdee Mastercut lino
If you find the traditional grey lino difficult to carve, then you may prefer to use a softer lino like the Essdee Mastercut range. Like Essdee's grey lino selection, the Mastercut range is available in lots of different sizes from 10cm x 10cm to 30cm x 20cm. If you're used to working with grey lino, you may find that the Mastercut lino is more rubbery in consistency, but it's a good choice if you find it hard to apply enough pressure to carve your designs.
- Buy the Essdee Mastercut lino 10cm x 10cm set of 2 from Amazon for £2.75
- Buy the Essdee Mastercut lino 15cm x 10cm set of 2 from Amazon for £3.49
- Buy the Essdee Mastercut lino 20cm x 15cm set of 2 from Amazon for £6.49
- Buy the Essdee Mastercut lino 30cm x 20cm set of 2 from Amazon for £10.04
Zieler Easy Cut lino carving sheets
Some people find it difficult to see pencil marks on traditional grey lino – if that's something you struggle with then you might find a tinted lino easier to work with. This soft polymer lino produced by Zieler is green, so you'll be able to see your carving more clearly. This A5 pack contains 5 sheets of lino, so it's a good choice for beginners. You can carve on both sides of the lino too.
Essdee mounted lino block
If you're planning to do some stamping or block printing onto fabric, a mounted lino block is extremely useful! Essdee produces a small 7.5cm x 7.5cm block that's perfect for this. These lino blocks are very durable and will last a long time, so these are ideal if you want to create a design that you'll use regularly.
Lino printing paper comes in a huge variety of different types from rough-textured khadi paper to smoother Japanese washi paper. The type of paper you choose may vary, depending on the kind of prints that you want to produce. It's a good idea to experiment to find the type of paper that you like to work with. Some online art shops sell sample packs which contain different kinds of paper – this is a really great way to try different kinds of printmaking paper and see which you prefer.
Here, we're going to share a few different types of lino printing paper for you to try, including some Japanese papers.
If you'd like to create prints that have a rough and rustic feel, you should opt for khadi paper. Khadi paper is a handmade thick cotton paper that's made from recycled t-shirts. It has uneven edges and a slightly textured surface. It's available in packs of various sizes, such as A5 and A4.
- Buy an A5 pack of khadi paper from Amazon for £12.49
- Buy an A4 pack of khadi paper from Amazon for £13.50
Pro-Art Strathmore printmaking paper
This printmaking paper is good quality and not too expensive, making it a good option for beginners. It's fairly thick, which helps to give your prints a more professional feel – ideal if you're planning to sell your finished prints. These packs come in a range of sizes too.
- Buy the Pro-Art Strathmore printmaking paper 8in x 11in pad (20 sheets) from Amazon for £12.79
- Buy the Pro-Art Strathmore printmaking paper 11in x 14in pad (30 sheets) from Amazon for £15.83
If you want to try using Japanese paper for your prints, hosho is a good one to start with. It comes in large pads of thick paper and it absorbs ink very easily. You're bound to see good results with this printmaking paper. It's really good value for money! Don't be confused by the fact that it says sketch paper on the pad – this paper is ideal for lino printing.
Masa paper is a soft, white Japanese paper that's machine-made (some Japanese papers are handmade). This is a good all-round printing paper and will produce great results. You can order masa paper in very large sheets and trim them down to size if needed.
Fabriano Rosaspina paper
This Italian-made paper is extremely thick and is made from 60% cotton. Rosaspina paper is specifically designed for printmaking and is a great choice for more experienced printmakers, as it's more expensive than some of the other options we've included. However, it does come in large sheets which can be trimmed down to the size you need.
Somerset printing paper
Somerset printing paper is extremely high quality and is often used by professional artists. It's a lightfast, archival paper, which means that your prints won't fade much over time. This paper isn't recommended for beginners as it's more expensive and it's best to use cheaper papers when you're starting out. However, it does come in large packs so you're likely to be able to make a lot of prints out of one order.
Lino printing tools (sometimes called gouges) are used to carve your design from sheets of lino. If you're a beginner, you can buy a basic set of lino printing tools fairly cheaply. When you get more into printing, you can upgrade your lino printing tools for ones that are sharper and more precise.
Jackson's wood cut knife set
These might be described as wood cutting tools, but they're an excellent option for printmakers too. Cheap lino printing tools with plastic handles are widely available from craft stores, but you're likely to end up frustrated if you try to use them to carve lino. Wood carving tools are an affordable alternative: they have similar blades to lino cutting tools and are usually very sharp.
Pfeil lino printing tools
If you don't want to spend loads of money on expensive lino printing tools then it's worth investing in just one really good gouge. This will allow you to be able to carve detailed areas with ease, while using cheaper tools for other parts of the print. Pfeil tools are strong, durable and super sharp, making carving your lino incredibly easy. You will need to sharpen your tools occasionally if you make lots of prints, but these tools will last a lifetime with proper care. You can even send them off to be professionally sharpened to keep them in top condition. If you're going to buy one tool, it's a good idea to buy a small tool that's 11/1 size.
Flexcut Micro Palm set
This small set includes extremely sharp tools that are ideal for lino printing. Although they're marketed as wood cutting tools, Flexcut's Micro Palm set is perfect for printmaking and the tools sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. They're excellent quality and will last for a long time.
Pfeil B set of 6 tools
Once you've got a taste for using Pfeil tools, you may want to purchase a larger set. The Pfeil B set contains a good selection of Pfeil gouges and is likely to suit most of your carving needs. It includes some finer lino cutting tools, so you can create more detailed prints. Pfeil tools work well with both grey and softcut lino.
If you fall in love with Pfeil tools, you may wish to invest in a full set. This set of 12 includes a selection of tools with different-shaped tips to suit all of your printmaking needs. It also comes with a sturdy linden wood stand to store and protect your lino printing tools. This set is a real investment in your printmaking tools, but the results will definitely be worth it if you can afford it.
Barens are a tool that's used for making prints by hand. You simply place your paper over your inked lino block and rub the back of the paper with a baren to produce the print. While you can use the back of a spoon to burnish your prints by hand, you're likely to see better results if you use a proper baren. Barens are traditionally made of bamboo, but modern versions can be made of wood, glass or other materials. Some of them look too pretty to be used as tools!
This traditional Japanese bamboo baren is great for when you're using thinner papers. It's an affordable way to print and produces lovely results – just try not to press too hard if you're using more delicate papers.
Sycamore printer's baren
This lovely printer's baren is carved from sycamore wood. It has a smooth base and rounded edges, so you can tilt the baren to apply more pressure to detailed areas of your print. The base of the baren is burnished and coated with linseed oil and beeswax cream for a polished finish. It fits comfortably in your hand and can be used to create clear lino prints.
This baren is made from real marble! It's beautifully smooth and will help you to get very crisp and even prints. It's easy to use and clean, plus it will look great in your crafting space (or double as a paperweight!).
This delightful baren is made of lightweight resin and swirled with beautiful colours. It looks like a work of art, but it's a very effective baren and a pleasure to use. This would make a wonderful gift for any printmaker. Boise barens are produced in limited runs, so look for other designs in the FlyingFootPress shop.
Ball bearing baren
This large ball bearing baren is designed for people who want to produce larger prints by hand. It's 12.7cm in diameter and is made using 600 small ball bearings. This Japanese-made baren will save you time and energy if you want to print larger designs and the little ball bearings will easily pick up all of the fine details.
Lino printing rollers (or brayers) are essential lino printing supplies. It's a good idea to have a few sizes in your lino printing kit, because you'll use them in different ways. Smaller rollers are handy for when you want to apply ink to a small block or to a section of your print, while larger rollers will make it easier to ink up a large block or try more advanced printing techniques such as rainbow rolls (this is where you create a tonal effect using more than one colour).
Lino printing brayers don't need to break the bank! Here are some rollers that I would recommend:
Essdee lino printing rollers
Essdee lino rollers are good quality and very durable. A basic 100mm or 150mm Essdee roller will suit most of your printing needs, but they also produce brayers in slightly smaller or larger sizes.
- Buy the Essdee 75mm roller from Cass Art for £9.50
- Buy the Essdee 150mm roller from Cass Art for £12.95
- Buy the Essdee 200mm roller from Cass Art for £15.95
Artway lino brayers
Artway sells a range of sturdy lino brayers in a selection of sizes from 5cm up to 2ocm. These are a good alternative to Essdee rollers and are much cheaper, starting from £5.99 for a 5cm brayer.
Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of lino printing supplies available? Buying a lino printing kit can be a practical and cost-effective way to get into printmaking.
Essdee lino printing kit
Essdee lino printing kits are widely available in craft and art stores and are a good way to have a go at this fun artform. These lino printing kits are suitable for beginners and for children under adult supervision.
Zieler lino printing kit
This 30-piece set is a good pick for new printmakers. It contains a range of tools and lino printing supplies, including a gouge with five different blades, a generous amount of softcut lino, a tube of black lino printing ink and an ink tray. This lino printing kit also comes with a starter booklet to explain the basic skills you'll need to make your own prints.
Love to Print lino printing kit
This lino printing kit has been thoughtfully put together. There's a selection of different linos for you to try out, a roller, test blocks to practice on, non-slip material so you don't injure yourself while carving, 20 sheets of printmaking paper and much more. It also includes a detailed instructional sheet with lots of helpful hints and tips.
Ikigai lino printing kit
This lino printing kit has been put together with artists in mind. All of the materials included are excellent quality and this kit is great value for money. The kit comes with a selection of lino printing supplies, such as high-standard Schmincke ink, sharp woodcarving tools and a few handmade papers to try. This would make a lovely gift for an artist.
Premium lino printing kit
This lino printing kit is one of the best out there. The kit includes 18 items with several types of lino to try, an inking tray a range of inks in different colours, a booklet packed with tips, three projects for beginners to try and much more. Again, this would make a brilliant gift as the set is beautifully presented.
If you need some advice to help you get started, a lino printing book can provide the inspiration and guidance that you need. Add these books to your lino printing supplies…
Block Print by Andrea Lauren
This fun book by Andrea Lauren explains the basics of lino printing and is packed with lots of creative project ideas for you to try. It's the perfect book for beginners or anyone who wants to dabble in lino printing. There are lots of tips and advice to inspire your crafting and you'll be making beautiful art in no time!
Linocut for Artists and Designers by Nick Morley
Nick Morley's book is an invaluable resource for lino print artists. It covers everything you could need to know to start lino printing, covering all of the technical side, how to correct common printing mistakes and how to do more advanced printmaking techniques. Although the name of the book suggests that it's aimed at professionals, there's a wealth of information and ideas for beginners too. It'll help to build your confidence and it's a useful reference if you're not sure how to do a particular technique. Highly recommended.
Featured image by Unsplash/Clay Banks.
Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints