Monday, November 20, 2017

Left Handed Moulding Planes

Notes: I have never had a left-handed student choose to use right-handed planes. I have never had right-handed students choose to use left-handed planes, unless posing for a joke.

I am teaching a class at CVSW this weekend. There are two spots open. Come learn how to use hollows and rounds, left or right. Come learn what appropriately tuned planes feel like, left and right. Come listen to Bob Van Dyke chastise me for listening to the soundtrack to "Hamilton", neither left nor right.

I continue to add pages to my FAQ page, this is one.

Finding the perfect plane for you lefties may be difficult, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum.

(1) You will want a specific ogee so you watch the various antique dealers hoping they will post it and you will be the first to buy it…now. It is possible. It is unlikely. You will think that "there should be a law."
(2) You want a missing pair of hollows and rounds to match your set so you watch eBay. With enough time, your desired pair will likely show up. Best case scenario you will get into a bidding war, you buy it, it is not exact, you sell it on eBay to your bidding partner at 40%. You will think that "there should be a law."
(3) You want any left handed plane. You wait, wait, read, and wait. It is not going to happen so you wish for a law to fix the left vs. right conundrum and realize there once was an unwritten law to fix exactly this.

Left handed antique planes essentially do not exist. Left handed planes are desirable for those that can not conform and may only exist because a few have not conformed.
I had a long series of paragraphs, pictures and illustrations typed out to explain the advantages of having the correctly handed planes. Having done that and now erased it, I think I can make this subject quick and apparent. You need to be able to see your progress, as measured by the shavings your plane is producing.

This is a right handed person using a right handed plane. He is working in the normal direction, right to left. Do you see how he is able see inside of the escapement?

This is a right handed person pretending to be left handed while using a left handed plane. He is working in a left handed person’s normal direction, left to right. He can also see inside of the escapement. While taking this photo he said “How do I place my hands? Wait, hold on, this? This feels weird, ok.”

This is a right handed person pretending to be left handed while using a right handed plane going in the left handed direction. While taking the picture he stated “I don’t know what I’m supposed to see. Are there two shavings? Why are you taking this picture?”

When using hollows and rounds we want predictable, desirable results. To get these results we need to be able to gauge our progress. We are able to measure our progress by watching the shavings being ejected from the mouth. If you cannot see the shavings then you cannot see the results. Additionally, if you cannot manipulate the plane to change the shavings because you cannot see the shavings or you’re not steering with your dominate hand then you will not get predictable results.

If you are told that you need to learn to deal with the situation because you don’t know what is best for you then you are dealing with somebody with an 18th-century mentality or somebody that doesn’t want to change the tooling in their shop to fit your desires, which is the exact opposite reason you’re purchasing new hollows and rounds. If you want new left handed planes and are told that you don't know what is best for you, just assume the person making the statement wants to slap your wrists with a ruler. (Note: stating there aren't enough lefties to pay for the tooling is different than stating you are wrong.)

Left handed planes are best for left handed people, as evidenced by every single left handed student I have had and given the choice. You may not choose to purchase all of your planes new and left handed. However, if you are left handed and you own some lefties while still owning some righties, the new lefties won’t make you worse with your old righties. You will be better overall.
This page is dedicated to my mother, the lefty, and Roger, the insistent:

1 comment:

  1. I, for one, have never regretted getting my sinister starter set of H&Rs from you. I may be challenged by a given task, but at least I am not working blind. [But I still can't read the edge grain:)]