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Carving Your Own Rubber Stamps From Lino

4 Jun

So you’ve just laid new lino in the kitchen and you have a lot of off cuts.  What do you do with it?  Well if the price of rubber stamps is as high there as it is here, you’ll jump at the chance of learning how to make your own!

You will need:

Need these

  • Carving tools (available from craft stores)
  • Lino off cuts (no lino?  Visit your local carpet shop and ask if they have any off cuts or spare samples)
  • Kitchen scissors
  • A pencil
  • The picture you want to copy
  • A cutting board

 It also helps to have available some spare cling (you get it free with certain brands of unmounted rubber stamps, though you could use double sided tape temporarily) and a clear acrylic stamping block.

 Mess: Minimal

Difficulty: Reasonable.  Not for children.


You will first need to get used to your tools.  Lets take a look at the tools I use, along with the type of cut they make in the lino.


A is a ‘V’ shaped tool and leaves a fine line in the lino.  This tool is essential to lino carving.

B is a flat chisel and removes a large area of lino.  I hate this tool as it is difficult to use and will avoid it at all costs!

C is a angled pointed tool and is used for fine lines.  This is the tool you use to go around the outline of the stamp you will carve.  You may substitute this tool for a craft knife.

D is a large curved tool and is used for removing larger areas of lino.  If you are only planning on making small of intricate stamps this tool can be omitted.

E is a small curved too and again is pretty much essential.  It removes a medium amount of lino.

Holding the tools:

Tool C is held and used the same way a craft knife is.  For the others you should hold as such:


With the end of the tool resting in the palm of your hand.  As you practice you will develop  the hold that is most comfortable to you.  I have found though that holding the tools as you would a pencil invariably results in a sore.

Getting started:

Take the picture that you wish to copy.  This can be hand drawn or printed.  Using the scissors, cut a bit of lino the approximate size of the picture.

 Blank and picture

Take your pencil and on the right side of the drawing (the printed side) draw along all of the lines.  Once you have done this turn the picture over, place face down on the lino and like you learnt in school, rub over the back of the stamp with the pencil.


Your picture will be transferred onto the lino.  Touch it up if needed.


Using the fine line tool (C), trace around the outline of the picture on the lino.  Make sure you go both sides of the line so that when you carve, the pencil line will be left on the lino.  Some people don’t do this step but I find that it leaves cleaner, less ragged lines and helps make sure your dog stamp has the right number of limbs!

Fine line

Using the ‘V’ shaped tool (A), carve around the outlines to remove some of the lino.  Some of the smaller areas will need to have all of the lino removed using this tool as the other tools will be too large.  The best motion I have found is single fluid strokes.

 First carve

Next, using the smaller curved tool (E), carve away the remaining lino.  If there are larger areas that need removing, you will need to use the larger curved tool (D).  You may find it best to use repeated scraping motions with this tool.

 Almost done!

Cut the excess lino off of the stamp. 

So as to better visualise the placement of the stamp you may trace the stamp onto the back using permanent marker pen.  I have found the easiest way to do this is to place the stamp onto the kitchen door window.  The light will show through the thinner part of the stamp and you will be able to see the outline through the back. 

Attach some unmounted stamp cling to the back to enable it to be used with a clear stamping block.


I like to try my stamps at least one if they are going out to someone else.   I would rather make sure that I haven’t missed anything than the stamp and that it looks as it should, but used than me send the stamp and it look nothing like the intended result.


Total time to create stamp: 20 min.

Here are all the stamps I have carved to date: