Printmaking is fun. But it also requires expensive materials and tools. And if these are not well organized, it can lead to tools being disrespected or stolen. So I made a few chisel caddies to hold our class sets of chisels for printmaking.
In terms of what chisels to buy, I tend to avoid the SpeedBall LinoZips and spend the money on Lee Valley's blockprinting chisels. We still have some LinoZips, but the students tend to race toward the chisels. The most popular ones are:
- Lee Valley's Block Cutter Set - (These are good, but the steel is cheaper and two of the six are not often used)
- Japanese Detail Carving Chisels - (especially the #11 gouge 1.5mm) I don't recommend the detail carving sets. Not because they are bad, but because students won't use most of the sizes of chisels.
- We tend to buy these: Japanese Detail Carving Tools - particularly the 1.5mm gouges. We get our chisels from Lee Valley. Art store chisels tend to be poor quality.
My wife and I tend to buy Dick Blick's Battleship grey linoleum in the large, heavy rolls, and then cut them into pieces and glue 1/4" plywood onto the back to keep it stiff and flat. I use Elmer's school glue and let them dry flat in one of our bookbinder's presses.
I designed three caddies. They all fit exactly into one of the shelves in our art room's storage room. One of them fits the Japanese detail chisels, and two of them have openings spaced for the linozips. I constructed the trays out of resawn 2x4s and used 1/4" plywood for the bottoms and dividers. I finished the caddies with many coats of water-based polyeurathane varnish tinted with red acrylic paint. Spray paint would have been much quicker, but less pretty.