What is a Slipstone and why should I use one?

So what is a slipstone? Well, one of the most important aspects of ensuring your linocuts end up looking great is ensuring that you are not only using the right tools, but also taking care of them. As well as using a whetstone to sharpen your carving tools, any print maker should also invest in a slipstone to remove burrs from the tools when they’ve finished sharpening the cutting edge on a whetstone to.


What is a burr?

So what is a burr and how do they can formed whilst sharpening linocut or woodcut carving tools? Good question! Effectively it’s a build up of metal – normally very thin metal that compounds as you run the cutting edge of your linocut gauge up and down the whetstone. They typically form on the inside edge of the tool as you sharpen the outside edge. They can have a detrimental effect on the cutting quality of the blade.

What is a slipstone?

A slipstone is basically a stone tool that is shaped to fit on the inside edge of your U-Shaped or V-Shaped gouge. A slipstone can be run along the inside edge and neatly knock off any burrs that have built up. When you visit your art shop or specialist intaglio print shop they will normally have a mini selection of these, with a few different sizes so you can find and select the one that will best fit your tools. They are not very large, and will typically have one knife edged side that fits neatly into a V-Shape tool, and one curved edge that can slide along the inside edge of a U-Shaped tool.

A slipstone typically has a V edge and U edge so it fits inside the inside edge of your tools for removing any burrs
A blurry photo of me removing a burr after sharpening a tool. (There’s a bit of slurry from the whetstone to)

Where Can I get a slipstone?

There’s loads of places you can pick these up – especially online. I like the Arkansas Slipstone, and I’ve provided a few links below;

Intaglio Printmakers
Knives & Tools

Sharpening Supplies


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What is a Slipstone and why should I use one?