I decided to see how difficult it was to carve your own wood block for the letter press. The reason for this is because I couldn't find a reasonable sized no.3 in the collection we have in the print room. I wanted to create a number so I could incorporate it within my playing card designs and may use in the future.
I printed Times New Roman 3 out backwards - this way when it prints, it prints the number the right way. Used small amount of spray mount to tack it in place whilst I cut around outline.
After cutting around the number, I discarded the white paper leaving the black number. The tools used gouges, scalpels and chisels.
Slowly working away at the wood using the gouges was pretty easy, to gain a nice flat area I used the chisel to take a little off at a time. Small amounts each time as you cannot add what you have cut back if you go too deep.
The deeper the cut around number the easier it was to remove the wood around the number. I kept taking small amounts down until all the wood was the same level around the raised 3. Using the smaller gouge to get in close to the number, this way I could control the amount of wood being removed. As the gouge leaves uneven lines, using a small scalpel blade to flatten the wood around the tricky parts of the number I found useful.
The overall result, turned out pretty good for a first try. The only problem is the type of wood I used (pine) Pine is a really soft wood and I do not know how well it will cope under the press. Another issue is the treatment to prevent the wood splitting or cracking over time - this is an area where I shall research within to find out how to treat it.
Making this number for my playing card will work really well if it works under the press, I may hand press it, to see how it works. The last thing I want to do is put it under the press and crack and ruin it. It didn't take long carve but it would be a shame to ruin it. I may make another number out of a harder wood that way I have 2 numbers for my playing cards that I can then design the symbols for. At the moment i have a layout for the number 3 which will be added on here at a later date after I printed them.