Three Things; Work In Progress – Laser Cut Print Block With Type

Custom laser cut print block with letterpress type

It’s Wednesday again, and that only means one thing at Shore Cottage Studio – we show you our Works In Progress. This week Kris Heath has expanded on the laser cut print blocks and made a smaller block designed to fit with some letterpress type.

Typesetting - layout sketches

Kris starts, as he usually does, with a sketch to work out what to use for each line, spreading out across the studio with drawers of different fonts and sizes. He wanted to use a large Gill Sans Bold (“Obvious Fact” at the bottom) and also try out a newly acquired batch of Palace Script (“More Deceptive”).  The quote “There Is Nothing More Deceptive Than An Obvious Fact” is from the Sherlock Holmes novel “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”, and the classic Holmes silhouette sketch is repeated neatly and scanned into Illustrator before converting it for laser cutting.

These sketches are useful for working out the layout of the finished product, and then reversing everything for print – the silhouette must be reflected before being cut into wood, and the metal type must be set backwards in a composing stick to make sure everything is in the right place for printing.

The laser cutter mid way through an etch cut of a Sherlock Holmes silhouette


After cutting the block Kris raises it to type height (a very specific 0.918 inches) with wood and card to match with the metal type and sets about justifying each line of type so everything is locked in place for printing.

Arranging various sizes of type with the custom made print block

The finished product – printed onto thin textured paper and thick recycled cardstock, this silhouette and classic quote make a really simple but effective piece, a brilliant combination of a centuries old technique and new technology. Hopefully the first of many!

Finished prints with Sherlock silhouette and quote