In this post I’ll be reviewing the Flexcut Lino cutting tools available in their Mini and Micro Palm sets.
I’m a big fan of equipping yourself with the right tools for the job, and frankly there’s nothing worse when you’re linocutting your next masterpiece than a crappy blunt tool. There are a lot of starter kits sold with criminally bad carving tools (see below) that must be responsible for putting a lot of people off. However, thanks to manufacturers like Flexcut and Pfeil, you linocut artists out there have salvation!
I’ve seen a lot of linocut printmakers using Flexcut lino cutting tools on channels like instagram, and for a long time I’ve been curious about how they might perform, so here’s my unbiased view. I purchased two sets both containing four tools. They were the mini and micro flexcut sets.
Flexcut Micro Palm Set
The micro set was the one I was most excited about as I like to use a lot of fine detail in my linocut prints. The set includes the following lino cutting tools;
- 1mm U – named the FR800
- 1.5mm U – named the FR801
- 2.5 mm U – named the FR802
- 1mm V – named the FR803
There is some other information but god only know what it means so i’m not going to bore you with that.
These are a really nice set of tools, and I particularly like the 1.5mm U shaped carving tool. The 1mm V is good for very fine details, but I found it slipped a bit when I first started using it so be careful if you use one yourself (you don’t want to cut your finger!). Like all things new, you just need a bit of practice and I found myself quickly adapting and enjoying these tools. The 1mm is very fine, and you will find it useful for small areas of extremely fine detail. The 1mm U shaped tool was also pretty useful for creating a really nice dappled effect – which I used for a bit of chain-mail on my knights.
Flexcut Mini Palm Set
The Flexcut lino cutting tools mini set is (not that surprisingly) made up of tools just a little bit bigger than those in the micro palm set. I actually thought I was going to find myself using these less than the micro set, but the reverse is true as it happens, and if you are not sure which set to buy I’d recommend this one. The tools are all great and the variety provides you a lot of mark making possibilities.
So what’s in the box then? I hear you ask. This also has three U shaped and one V shaped tool. This time the sizes are;
- 3mm Flat U shape – FR600
- 3mm U shape – FR601
- 2mm U shape – FR602
- 3mm V shape – FR603
Now, I’m going to start with the 3mm V…. because IT IS BRILLIANT. I just really really like it. You can cut a clean edge around your design with it really accurately, or create some beautiful traditional looking linocut marks with it in a variety of widths/depths. It’s like the workhorse of all the tools from Flexcut I tried and it was the absolute winner. If you can’t afford a whole set – buy this one.
My follow up fave was the 3mm U shape (FR601) which was great for clearing away larger areas of lino from the design but also has great mark making abilities. I’d still give an honourable mention to the 2mm U shaped tool and the flatter 3mm U shaped one. But… I would say that when using the flatter 3mm U shaped tool, because the profile is so shallow the whole cutting edge will go under and tear the lino above it, so you need to be careful when using this tool by making sure that that cutting edge doesn’t completely disappear. Again, this is something that’s easy to adjust to, and I’d recommend getting an old bit of lino off-cut and trying your tools on that first so you don’t muck up the next Mona Lisa when you’re carving away.
The Verdict on Flexcut Lino Cutting Tools
These are great tools that i would happily recommend to anybody thinking of investing in a nice set of decent linocut tools, or for people like me who may have a good set of tools from other suppliers like Pfeil but just want to expand their collection and try something new.
They are well made, go through lino like butter and are comfortable to use.
I personally found that they were great at creating marks that look like a very traditional woodcut or linocut mark. I’ve previously got lost (quite happily) in the level of extremely fine details I can achieve with a Pfeil, but these are somewhat different, not better and not worse, just different and definitely worth a try.
To find where the nearest supplier is for you check out the Flexcut website!