Part Four - Pasting down the Tracing

The wood and the tracing are both ready - time to put them together. Before trying to paste the tracing onto the wood, do a 'dry run' - placing the drawing face down on the wood without using any glue. The idea is to see if any possible flaws in the surface of the wood 'line up' with lines of the design. If there are small knots or blemishes in the wood surface, these can cause problems later during the carving or printing, but if such blemishes fall in 'open' areas of the design, they will be carved away without trouble. For the piece that is to become the key block, choose your smoothest and clearest piece of wood.

Once you have verified that the tracing is a good match to the block, the next step is gluing it down. In this photo I have just finished squeezing some glue out onto the wood, and am spreading it into a smooth layer with my fingers. I am using a kind of glue similar to the 'mucilage' that we used to use back in grade school ... Work under a light so that you can see the reflection off the shiny wet glue, thus making sure that there are no dry spots on the surface.

Too little glue will cause problems later, as unglued spots will lift up as you are carving them, but too much glue is also not so good, as the paper will start to slide around on the overly wet surface, and can become distorted while you are rubbing it down into place.

When the glue is all smooth and ready, hold the tracing in place (don't forget that it should be face down!), let it fall onto the glue, and then rub the back of the sheet with the ball of your hand to press down the wrinkles that will start to form as the paper absorbs moisture from the glue.

Keep rubbing for a few minutes, until everything starts to dry a bit and the sheet looks firm and stable, then set the block aside to dry completely before you start the carving. (While it's drying, perhaps it's a good idea to sharpen your carving knife! ...)