Plate VI. Reproduction of an impression (reduced) of the key-block of a Japanese print showing admirable variety in the means used to suggest form.

Fig 9
Fig. 9.—Knife cuts in section.
Fig 10
Fig. 10.—Diagram of knife cuts.

The actual cutting proceeds as follows: Starting at some point where the surface of the key-block design has been oiled and made distinct, a shallow cut is made along one side of any form in the design, with the knife held slanting so that the cut slants away from the edge of the form. A second outer parallel cut is then made with the knife held slanting in the opposite direction from the first, so that the two cuts together make a V-shaped trench all along the line of the form. The little strip of wood cut out should detach itself as the second cut is made, and should not need any picking out or further cutting if the first two cuts are cleanly made. This shallow V-shaped trench is continued all round the masses and along both sides of all the lines of the design. No clearing of the intervening spaces should be attempted until this is done. It will be seen at once that the V-shaped cuts give great strength to the printing lines, so that a quite fine line between two cuts may have a strong, broad base (fig. 9). The depth of the cut would be slightly shallower than that shown in this diagram. In cutting fine line work a cut is first made a little beyond the line, then the cut is made on the line itself (fig. 10).

Where a very fine line is to be cut, especially if it is on a curve, the outer cut of the V trench should be made first, and then that which touches the line: there is thus less disturbance of the wood, and less danger of injuring the edge of the line.

When the V cut has been made outside all the lines, one proceeds to clear the intervening spaces between the lines of the design by taking tool No. 1 (fig. 5). The large spaces should be cleared first. The safest and quickest way is to make a small gouge cut with No. 1 round all the large spaces close up to the first cut, then, with one of the shallower chisels, Nos. 5, 6, or 7 (fig. 5), and the mallet, clear out the wood between the gouge cuts.

For all shallow cuts where the mallet is not needed, the Japanese hold the chisels as shown in fig. 11. With practice this will be found a very convenient and steady grip for the right hand. It has also the advantage that the chisel can be held against the centre of the body and exactly under one's eyes.

Fig 11