Also referred to as a woodblock, a woodcut uses various tools cut away the areas around the image into a block of wood. The artist draws directly onto the block (usually taken from a softwood plank cut lengthways) and then proceeds to cut away the areas around the design. Today this can also be done by a laser-cutting machine. Paper is then placed over the inked block and either passed through a press or worked over by hand with a tool called a baren used to burnish the back of the paper. This pressure transfers the ink from the block the paper creating the image.
The benefits of woodcut over other types of printmaking is the beautiful grain effect characteristic of woodcuts. The grain is often taken into account when carving and is used to create some beautiful effects. Although it is more usually cut lengthways artists often work end on also.
This process can be repeated multiple times however the softness of the wood often dictates the size of the edition as the pressure applied will eventually distort the block.