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Digital Wood Block Printing

Paul Kaplan

Project by

Paul Kaplan

General Information

This is an easy way to turn your digital designs into printable wood blocks for making cards or posters! Using a CNC you can very quickly go from your computer to milled printing block, then you can use a cheap printing kit to repeatedly transfer your design to paper.

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Material Description Price
Bamboo Plywood

Bamboo Plywood

Thickness: 1/4 - don't use, Plies: 3 - don't use, Dimensions: 8 in × 12 - don't use

File Description Unit Price


The SVG file used in the photos.


Download Zip

from Inventables


Create a design

Create a digital design in your favorite vector editor; I use Adobe Illustrator. Keep it simple because the thickness of the drill bit will limit the amount of detail you the wood will retain. Also, consider which part of the image you want to be inked and transferred, remembering that the negative space is the space that has to be milled away.


Generate the toolpaths

I used MakerCAM ( to generate the toolpaths for a Shapeoko from the SVG file. In my case I needed to make a pocket around the entire design because I wanted the drill to be raised to take the ink. Make sure to double check all the settings and make sure they match your machine and material (especially step-down, feed rate and drill bit size).


Mill out the block

I used a Shapeoko and 1/4" Bamboo plywood to create my block, but really any wood would have been fine. I use the Universal Gcode Sender to control the Shapeoko. Make sure not to let your computer fall asleep (!) by using a program like Caffeine (for Mac).


Ink and Print!

I used a cheap roller and ink from a linoleum block printing kit from a local art store. Apply a generous amount of ink using the roller; you don’t need to roll over many times, as that actually removes ink rather than adds ink. Then simply press your design onto any medium you like: I used paper and cardboard