Our interest was recently piqued by a review of some Pfeil Linocut tools which was left on the Jackson’s site, and which mentioned that the reviewer had years of experience in the medium. The comment turned out to be from the printmaker Paul Wilkins, who very kindly agreed to talk us through his artistic practice while also reviewing the Pfeil tools at greater length.
A review of Pfeil Linocut tools by Paul Wilkins
I was first introduced to linocut at art school back in the 1960s but I have always had a fascination with producing multiple images in one form or another.
One of my other passions has been collecting old books, particularly those illustrated with beautifully-detailed line engravings, and it was these that led me to produce my own end-grain wood engravings on boxwood and various fruit woods, and I still enjoy doing these today. However the desire to produce more and more prints in larger formats than can practically be done as wood engravings – and the wish to use more than one colour – prompted me to use lino as a less expensive and more appropriate material.
I have tried most types of lino but I have to say that I do prefer to use the traditional hessian-backed lino as I find this produces a much sharper and finer line, although it is slightly harder to carve than the vinyl types. Most of my prints are produced using the ‘reduction method’ of printing, where the same piece of lino is used for each chosen colour consecutively, carving away the previous colour before printing the next.
Up until a few months ago I had been using the inexpensive linocutting tools commonly available in your high street art shop – the kind with replaceable blades. In fact, I have had one of these since my days in art school back in the 1960s! However as a present my son treated me to one of the Swiss Pfeil linocut tools and I was so impressed with it that I now own four Pfeil linocut tools of various sizes, purchased from Jackson’s.
You can immediately see that these tools are extremely well made, with finely-turned hardwood handles, brass ferrules and beautifully-finished steel blades. They feel wonderful in the hand and are an absolute joy to use. They have been sharpened ready for use.
I have been using these tools now for almost two months and they are as sharp as they were when I bought them. I have purchased some fine ‘stropping’ compound and a leather strop to maintain this sharp edge but I haven’t had to use it so far.
I would certainly recommend these tools to anyone who is serious about producing good-quality linocuts or woodcuts, and whilst they are more expensive than the usual run-of-the-mill linocut tools, they are an absolute joy to use and will last a lifetime.
The image at the top of this post shows Paul Wilkins using Pfeil Linocut tools. Paul’s online store can be accessed here. His original review of the Pfeil L 11/2 Linoleum and Block Cutter read as follows:
I now own three of these tools and have just ordered my fourth. I have been Linocutting for many years and these are by far the best tools I have used, they are of excellent quality and retain their very sharp edge well and should last a lifetime.
The full range of Pfeil Linocut tools can be viewed and purchased at Jackson’s.