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POLL: Can you OR do you switch hands during freehanding?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by kreisler, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Yes, i can AND i sometimes do.

    35 vote(s)
  2. I can/could, but usually i don't switch hands.

    12 vote(s)
  3. No, i can't and i don't need/want to. I'm good :P

    16 vote(s)
  4. No, i can't but i'd love to be able to!

    15 vote(s)
  1. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    Just curious. On a guided system it's easy and natural to switch the hand which holds and moves the narrow sharpening stone.
    But freehanding on a benchstone (or 204-freehanding) is a different matter oh boy. Michael Christy does it in his youtubes but i can hold the knife in my right hand only during freehanding, what about yourself?
  2. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I used to do so all the time but I'd have to completely re-learn if I wanted to now.
    GABaus and kreisler like this.
  3. Some time ago, when I was still relying entirely on my dominant (right) hand for holding and controlling the knife, I saw a benefit in keeping the blade's edge towards me so I could actually see the apex make contact on the stone. I felt it made all the difference in getting better contact that way. Problem was, since I was relying entirely on my right hand for controlling the knife, I felt like I was giving something up when I'd flip the blade around to do the other bevel, and the edge was facing away. Couldn't see what I was doing for the sake of flush contact, when the blade's edge was facing away from me.

    That's when I made a commitment to teaching my left hand how to mirror what my right had been doing. Felt STRANGE for a good while, this way. And for some time, I noticed I wasn't maintaining the same angle in the other hand, with my hold a little bit more obtuse on the other side. But I persisted in making adjustments to my hold until things evened out. Surprising thing is, now that I've trained my 'non-dominant' hand (left) to sharpen this way, I keep noticing what seems to be a more finessed touch on that side. Bevels look a bit cleaner & steadily-controlled when sharpened from my left-hand side. Wish I'd figured this out a long time ago. :)

    Nowadays, I sometimes change things up for the sake of training muscle memory further. I do sometimes just flip the blade around and sharpen with the edge facing away. In all the time since I've been freehanding, my feel for flush contact has improved markedly, and I don't need to rely so much on actually seeing the edge anymore, for flush contact. So, my hands continue to learn.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
    GABaus and kreisler like this.
  4. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    I mostly switch hands when using a bench stone so that I can draw the edge toward me on both sides of the blade. Helps me keep a more consistent edge angle when I'm trying to be precise.

    That said, I probably only use that technique a third of the time...the rest of the time I sharpen with strong hand only.
    GABaus, Hard Knocks and 115Italian like this.
  5. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    yes, drawing the edge toward me is easier for me too. my left hand is very clumsy and weak and it would take by the end of 2020 to get it trained, and i am not sure if it's worth the trouble.
    the advantage of using the right hand only is the speed at performing blade side flipping after 1 balancing stroke. flipping the side after 1 stroke is a common technique for weakening and reducing the (macro) burr.
    GABaus likes this.
  6. annr

    annr Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 15, 2006
    Either way depending on the angle and other considerations.
    kreisler likes this.
  7. Been right-handed all my life, and the greater raw strength is on that side. Though, these days, now that I'm of a certain age, my 'strong' right hand also tends to get more sore and stays sore for a longer while, after doing heavy work. More prone to cramping, too. Same as with all of my aging muscles, anymore. I just don't quickly recuperate like I used to.

    My left hand is still physically weaker as well, and it gets fatigued much faster when doing heavy grinding on a blade. But, even being physically weaker, my left hand seems better at the things benefitting from a very light touch, such as in the finishing & deburring stages especially.
    GABaus and kreisler like this.
  8. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998

    Drawing with the edge toward me with the weak hand is facilitated by just using a finger or two from the right hand to help with guiding the sweep along the length of the stone. I don't bother doing it weak hand unassisted.

    I do practice shooting weak hand only...but that's based upon a career in law enforcement and something I continue to this day...because you just never know when it might be necessary.
    GABaus and kreisler like this.
  9. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    ah assisted freehanding (by 1, 2, or 3 fingers of the other hand). that's where "i can/could but usually don't" ;)
    hmmm.. I'll give it a serious try in future, switching hands, assisted or unassisted. of course it's better to have another skill in the repertoire than not.
    GABaus likes this.
  10. I also 'assist' with my free hand when using bench stones, on larger/longer blades especially. I keep a fingertip or two just behind the portion of edge being worked.

    For the last few finishing & deburring passes, I still go back to holding stone in one hand and knife in the other. I swap hands with each of them to do the alternate side of the blade, keeping the edge facing me. This is actually how I began to train my left hand, when I originally was doing almost all of my sharpening with smaller stones, and not using bench stones. My finishing touch is always better when I do it this way. And most of my touch-up work is also done in this manner, usually using a smaller stone.
    GABaus and kreisler like this.
  11. Craig James

    Craig James

    Oct 30, 2018
    I am just in the process of teaching myself to use my off hand, it’s tricky and slow going but I believe I will ultimately get better control.

    I also assist with the other hand - a consequence of mostly sharpening kitchen knives - I struggle with control purely one handed
    kreisler likes this.
  12. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Depends on the tool and the equipment I've got, but if it's more convenient and/or reliable for me to switch hands, I will.
    GABaus, eKretz and kreisler like this.
  13. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    There is a missing segment in the survey. i.e.( I can and always do.)
    I always do switch hands. (ambidextrous) I keep the spine of the knife always facing me. My thumb sets the lift / gap and my fingers rest on the edge bevel. This method helps me achieve a crisper & cleaner bevel. I know it's not for everyone but is was easy for me to learn. This could be difficult for others to learn that are one hand dominate. DM
    GABaus, willc, kreisler and 1 other person like this.
  14. When I 'change things up' a bit from my normal habits and try it with edge facing away, I do the same thing, using my thumb as the 'guide' to set the spine's height at a good place, and my thumb very lightly skims the stone as I sharpen. I agree, it does help 'crisp up' the bevels in doing so. I've also started occasionally using my index finger on the spine in a similar manner when sharpening with the edge facing me (spine away), for the same reasons.

    I've been happy with my freehand edges in terms of sharpness, before I started using the guide finger/thumb on the spine. Behind the edge, the 'bevels' were always a little more convex. But, with the thumb or finger working as the guide on the spine, bevels do end up looking crisper. :thumbsup:
    David Martin and kreisler like this.
  15. ecallahan

    ecallahan Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    I switch hands while stropping, but only use my right while sharpening freehand.
    kreisler likes this.
  16. Ourorboros


    Jan 23, 2017
    The poll left out I can and almost always do.
    I can sharpen both ways, but I switch hands so I can see the blade from the same viewpoint.
  17. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    For me freehanding is for putting on a working edge quickly with minimal faff. Since I typically end up with one hand covered in grit I don't want to switch hands, and I think switching would be a little slower too. If I want hair-splitting sharpness or pretty bevels and have the luxuries of space, time, and running water I get out an Edge Pro.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
    kreisler likes this.
  18. eKretz


    Aug 30, 2009
    I do when the situation calls for it. Usually on a larger knife like a kitchen knife. On tiny ones I can switch or not, depends on what feels comfortable. On a razor never, I always use the right hand.
    kreisler likes this.
  19. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    CB570FFD-4F4E-4BDE-A4F4-3B354154CABA.jpeg D7BDD8DE-4B3D-4257-9C3A-A658AA642A2D.jpeg I always switch on a flat stone pulling the knife toward me edge leading. On the V outfit there is no big reason to switch because the edge is moving toward the center of the earth.
    mycough, kreisler and David Martin like this.
  20. Pensacola Tiger

    Pensacola Tiger Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 25, 2009
    Yes, I can, and I usually do.
    kreisler likes this.

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