The plate was rocked with 72 passes of a coarse 45 teeth per inch rocker, which ploughs the smooth surface of a plate up when rocked from side to side, creating pits and burrs that hold ink.
After the plate is rocked, I use scrapers and burnishers with light oil to remove and smooth the pits and burrs: the more I remove the less ink remains when the plate is wiped, so I can control how light or dark areas of an image will be.
This normally takes at least twice as long as rocking,
The image is of a Thomas Hall stockman's knife which belonged first to my great grandfather, then my grandad and now is mine- hence Three Generations. As far as I can tell, this knife is at least 104 years old, and I use it regularly on the allotment: the apple blossom behind the knives is my Laxton's Superb, a variety my grandad grew, so the knife was probably used by him at some point to trim or cut the very same apples.
I roughly filed and beveled the plate edges- at this point the corners are still square.
I have also filed the underside of the edges to remove any swarf.
At this stage, I can run my finger down the edge without fear of cuts, but it still needs work to prevent it holding ink and print cleanly.
Notice the burnishing marks at the edge of the image; this is one area where the rocker bit through the card at the start.
Also, the plate marks and margins are pristine from filing and polishing: prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance.