woodcut (Scope note)

This term is a variety of relief printmaking using a wooden block, from which the background is cut away leaving the design standing in relief to be inked and printed. The distinction between wood-engraving and woodcut is between hard end-grain wood (usually boxwood) cut across the grain with engraving tools (wood-engraving), and soft-grain wood cut along the grain with a knife and gouge (woodcut). With Japanese prints, the term 'woodblock' is traditionally used in preference to ''woodcut'. The type of wood used for woodcut/woodblock is always a soft wood: in Japan it is usually cherry, in the West pear, lime wood or similar. A chiaroscuro woodcut is a variety of colour woodcut printed in tones of one colour; each tone is printed from a separate block.