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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.

Can you AND do you switch hands during freehanding?

  1. Yes, i can AND i sometimes do.

    36 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

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

    17 vote(s)
  1. Kaibab270

    Kaibab270 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 20, 2019
    I've only ever done freehand and I should really try to use my left hand more because I've found I have a difficult time keeping my angle right when moving the blade away from me (left side of the blade, I'm right handed) but the other side is nice and even.
    kreisler likes this.
  2. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    Being ambidextrous is crucial to freehand. Only way to learn is to force yourself outside of your comfort zone.
    willc, David Martin and kreisler like this.
  3. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    GABaus and kreisler like this.
  4. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014

    Because you'll get a more consistent scratch pattern and can hold the knife in a better position that is more stable when setting the bevel. This also crosses over to power tools like a belt sander.
    kreisler and DaveDM like this.
  5. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    He gets his fingers of the freehand close to the edge bevel. :thumbsup:
    But wow he must be putting a 20* edge on that blade. DM
    kreisler likes this.
  6. Papilio


    Sep 6, 2019
    Would be great if I could. Great training for the brain, too. Would create new synapses:)
    kreisler likes this.
  7. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    Yes, a true sharpener puts the edge angle the end user needs, not what's best on paper.
    If it was my knife I'd go a lot lower. These users need this robust angle. It also compliments the lower hardness of this steel.

    Lower angles cut better and longer in controlled testing but it's the end user that determines if they can handle it.

    Once these folks aquire a taste for sharp they'll understand how caring they need to be with there knives with and not.letting a sharp edge ding and make contact with hard non cuttable materials, than they can appreciate a lower angle, especially if they learn to maintain their edges themselves.

    Until than, they need an edge that holds up to more than just cutting. Something less prone to damage from carelessness.
    GABaus, David Martin and kreisler like this.
  8. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    @DeadboxHero Since you finish with alternating strokes without switching hands the consistent scratch pattern cannot be a factor. I would argue that not switching hands is "stable enough" since many people do it effectively. For belt grinders and Edge Pro style jigs it's natural of course, but apart from that I cannot see how it is crucial.
    kreisler likes this.
  9. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    That's fine, I'm sharing my opinion, I feel it is crucial.

    Highly recommend.

    I used to only sharpen right handed until a few years ago.

    Made a big improvement to my performance, speed and consistency.

    Give it a whirl

  10. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    @DeadboxHero , yes it could be the user knows it's a lower hardened knife. DM
    kreisler likes this.
  11. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I used to sharpen swapping between hands. Had surgery on both wrists over a period of a couple of years, so had the experience of learning to sharpen using either hand in an enforced primary role while the other was in a cast with only fingers free.

    Personally I get the best precision across the greatest variety of edged tools (by far) using only my right/primary hand for grip control and left hand in a guide/pressure role. And this goes for consistent scratch pattern, angle control through the belly and tip, everything. In my case it was far easier to assign a single job with two variations for each hand than it was to assign two jobs with a single variation to each hand.

    For tools like chisels and plane irons where there is only a single variation being used I believe it allows me to hit a much higher level of precision. Of course with enough practice anything that can be done, can be improved upon, but I found not swapping hands to be the path of least resistance to the best possible outcome.

    kreisler likes this.
  12. annr


    Nov 15, 2006
    I also think it depends on the issue: I had a student bring in a knife she has “sharpened” to a trapezoid—started out as a straight edge and rectangular.

    I watched her technique, and when she flipped the knife over and “sharpened,” the angle/pressure was way off from tip to heel such that she was grinding one portion of the edge ~1.25x faster that the rest.

    We had to mod a couple of things for her to keep the edge at her desired angle on both edge bevels—preserving a straight edge. Bilateral hand use was not the problem or solution.

    So whatever works…
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
    kreisler likes this.
  13. Everybody learns differently. The most glaring example to me, in demonstrating proven, highly-skilled freehand sharpening, is set by Jason B. on the forum. I periodically go back and watch his videos on YouTube to study what his hands are doing with blade & stone. So far as I know, he always holds the handle in his left hand and flips the blade between edge-away and spine-away in doing both sides of the knife. He seems to have done pretty well with that.

    I've progressed a lot since learning to switch hands in pursuit of something emulating ambidexterity. But that hasn't stopped me from occasionally changing things up and flipping the blade over in the same hand, ala Jason B. style. And I'm getting better with that too, in discovering that the 'feel' for flush bevel contact, acquired in all my practice with both hands, is still helping me when I try it a different way. So, I'm convinced that if or when somebody really commits to teaching their hands to do it, the hands will learn, no matter which technique or style it may be.
    kreisler likes this.
  14. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    I am ambidextrous. I always believed everyone was. You had to learn to use tools with your right hand and practiced for years. So it only stands to reason you can teach your left hand to do anything your right can do.

    I’ve always strived to do things with both hands on purpose. Painting a house why move the ladder when you can start at your far left change hands and paint to the far right?

    One thing is when I write with my left hand I have to do it backwards. Right to left. Also if there is an adjustment knob on a machine that I always use my right hand on. If I grab it with my left I will turn it the wrong way every time.

    If you want to sharpen with both hands you need to cut with both hands. Try sharpening a pencil with the knife in your off hand. Until you can do it well you won’t be able to sharpen with your off hand.

    Another fun thing to teach yourself is to keep your fork in your right hand and cut the steak with your left. As opposed to switching back and forth.

    Try it with other tools too. Hammer from both sides. The benefits are huge. It cuts down on repetitive use injuries and will keep you from being an invalid if you break your dominant hand.
    willc, DaveDM, kreisler and 1 other person like this.
  15. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    Here is video footage of how Michael Christy actually does stropping(!) with either hand, incredible!

    The strop looks very nice. Was it made by you @NORTHWEST_KNIFE_GUY and do you make more of these for sale?

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