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Work Bench for a lefty

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wellywood

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G'day all. Apologies if this question has been covered before but I'm a first timer here.
My grandson (14) has shown an interest in woodworking and I want to build him his own workbench at home - mainly to get him off mine.
The thing is, he's cack-handed. Should I build his bench to suit i.e. with vice on the 'wrong' end or should he just get used to living in a right-handed world.
Are there any lefties out there who can advise/comment on this or any other bench features that might help him?
 

tim burr

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I'm a leftie and to be honest never found it a problem using a right handers bench.
The ones we used at work had no tail vise and just a record qr on the left hand side. Any long boards/doors I had to shoot were clamped in the vise and I planed away from it, instead of the more traditional planing towards it and it never caused any issues.
The only problems would be if he intends doing a lot of hand prep on the bench, everything I had was pre done on the planer/thicknesser. If this is the case then it's probably best setting it up for a leftie, depending on the design of bench it should be easy enough to swap around to what suits him best

Cheerd James.

''everyone is born right handed, only the best can overcome it! '' :lol:
 

Cheshirechappie

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A few months ago, we had a bit of a discussion about left-handed tools from a historical perspective - tool-history-left-handed-tools-t68673.html . (Basically, until recently, left-handedness was beaten out of people, so they had to get on with using right-handed tools. In consequence, there are very few historical left-handed tools.) There are some left-handed tools available now (at a price, usually!), but I'm not aware of (for example) a left-handed plough plane.

I don't see any real problems in a left-hander using a left-handed bench, except when L/H tools are not obtainable. However, where there's a will, there's a way....
 

wellywood

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Thanks James. It seemed a bit of a dumb question but I was trying to see myself as a leftie and what I would find easier to use. He will be using hand tools (coming to me for any prep work that needs a power tool) and will be doing a lot of carving which seems to be his main interest.
 

tim burr

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He should be fine with either set up then, I don't know if I speak for all left handers but I've become so used to living in a right handed world that using anything specifically designed for a left hander feels a bit odd and unnatural.
 

wellywood

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Thanks to all for the replies. I think I will make his bench for a left hander with the front vice on the right and the tail vice on the left-hand end. If it makes life easier for him he can concentrate more on his work.

Mind if I stick around? I've had a skim around the forum and there's a lot of good advice here and some inspiring photos of work that's been done.
A bit about myself. I'm a self-taught woodworker and into cabinet and box making. Toolwise I have a good range of hand tools and like to restore old planes. On the power side I have a table router (1/2" Triton), Bosch hand router, Ryobi planer/thicknesser, Ryobi compound mitre saw, drill press and the usual selection of electric hand drill, planer, jig saw etc. I'm looking to add a small bench-top lathe soon - probably a Jet.
 

fetteler

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As a left handed person, may I say that I find it strange that in this modern world we can still ignore being referred to as 'cack' handed; and that a right hander can openly accuse us of using the 'wrong' end of the bench. For us left handers, the end we use is, quite naturally, the correct end.
As for the OP asking if he should make a left handed bench for a left handed person, well, I'd ask the question, "Should you make a right handed bench for a right handed person?". If you think the answer to that is 'yes' then you can draw your own conclusions as to what one of those weird left handers would prefer!!!!! Anyone left handed who has skinned their knuckles working stuff on a 'right hand' mounted vice will well understand the mixture of anger and frustration behind this post.

Whilst I'm at it, after a lifetime of using right handed power tools, I cannot believe that in these enlightened times, left handed alternatives are not provided at the same price and with the same ease of availability as the right handed versions. Some right handed tools are just plain dangerous or impossible to use left handed.

To put this into perspective, I've been amazed at the complaints from right handers when they try to use my left handed scissors - just try playing a bl**dy piano is what goes through my mind every time I hear it. ](*,)

Apologies to all if this sounds a bit over the top but there's a lifetime's worth of steam to let off :wink:

Steve.
 

wellywood

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Steve. Sorry if I rarked you up with references to 'cack handers'. My old Dad was a leftie and that's how he referred to himself.
It can be difficult for right handers to appreciate the problems faced by those of the opposite persuasion.
Glad it gave you the opportunity to have a rant :)
 

nathandavies

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my grandfather (90 odd) is left handed. when he was at school if he was caught writing with his left hand he would have a beating, due to this he can do everything both left and right handed. can't remember whether he used to smack me and my brother right or left handed when we were kids though.

and I've realised that apparently I have my vice on the wrong end of my work bench. never noticed a problem.

nathan
 

Phil Pascoe

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Many moons ago, I had a kayak. Although I'm right handed I used a left handed handed paddle, which caused great amusement if one of my friends borrowed it without knowing - it's near impossible to use one that's wrong for you.
 

Eric The Viking

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fetteler":23yk5d57 said:
To put this into perspective, I've been amazed at the complaints from right handers when they try to use my left handed scissors

Left-handed scissors are brilliant!

1. They're comfortable, at long last.
2. Right-handers hate them.
3. As I'm the only leftie in the house, it means I get to keep my scissors, in my desk drawer, where they belong and I don't have to look around for them.

The only frustration is that they are relatively hard to find. I have three pairs: two 'dressmaking' ones, both Fiskars, and one Victorinox pair that are smaller. Even then, only the Victorinox ones have the label on the correct side!

To get back to benches and tools though, I really like my bench left-handed for planing and cross-cutting operations. I too find it awkward and annoying to use a right-handed bench and I wouldn't want one, if I had a choice again. I'm very glad I made mine the way I did.

My other pet hate/frustration is specialist planes. All fenced planes seem to be for right handers. My father-in-law has kindly offered me his Record one, which is one of the more expensive sets. I've borrowed it in the past, and although I'll gratefully accept, I do find it very hard to use.

I've heard it said though that lefties are much more ambidextrous than right handed people. I used to be able to write with either hand, but haven't tried for ages so have probably lost the knack. When I played cricket at school, I would annoy bowlers by taking a left hand and then right hand stance for alternate balls. It didn't help my batting though!

Has anyone ever seen a commercially-made left handed hockey stick? I'm not sure if they're even allowed. I used to play right handed, and that too felt odd.

E.

PS: the modern standard-issue SA80 can only be used in a right-handed stance, otherwise you get the cartridge ejected into your face.
 

MickCheese

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My daughter is left handed and when she was young we took her to a left handed shop if memory serves me right in Covent Garden, London where she bought a pair of left handed scissors and a left handed pencil sharpener.

Unless you live with a leftie you just don’t appreciate how sometimes the smallest things are made more difficult due to living in a right hand world.

As for power tools being made 'left handed' that seems fine, but costing the same? I really don’t think the manufacturers would swallow the additional cost for what is a relatively small proportion of the population.

Mick
 

fetteler

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wellywood":3gd0i7de said:
Steve. Sorry if I rarked you up with references to 'cack handers'. My old Dad was a leftie and that's how he referred to himself.
It can be difficult for right handers to appreciate the problems faced by those of the opposite persuasion.
Glad it gave you the opportunity to have a rant :)

Thanks for being understanding Pete, I appreciate it. Re-reading my post I se that I was maybe a little too forthright... :oops:

Steve.
 

rannndy

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I am left handed as well, 50 years a cabinet maker, served my apprentiship learning from 5 cabinet makers and 2 joiners all right handed. didnt think about being left handed just took in what i was told watched all 7 different ways of doing things and then found my own way of doing it. never had a problem being left handed. like they say where theres a will theres a way
 

Andrewf

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I'm right handed. But my bench is left handed. Actually prefer it to a right handed one now. When planing against a bench stop on the left hand end, don't keep banging my hip on the vice.
 

Shrubby

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The shop in London is called Anythinglefthanded , they have a website
The left handed traditional bench sounds a good solution - lots of workholding options for his carving
Matt
 

tim burr

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Eric The Viking":25y16u9r said:
PS: the modern standard-issue SA80 can only be used in a right-handed stance, otherwise you get the cartridge ejected into your face.

Yup, I had a few months of dealing with this back in 1999-2000, to be fair they're bloody awkward rifles to use whether you're left or right handed :?
 

Mike-W

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Interesting thread,
I’m a lefty - old enough to have learned how to use equipment designed for right handed people and most of the time I get on well with RH’ed tools and yes I have fired a pre production SA-80 designed for left handers- that’s one ‘tool’ I felt quite uncomfortable with!
I re-built my bench several years ago with a Veritas twin screw vice at the LH end and a tail vice at the right end. Because my bench is now just 6 feet long rather than my old bench which was 8 feet long I have found the vice is in the “wrong place’ particularly as the vice handles protrude from the bench and when I am planning left to right. My bench can be a little short if I stand beyond the vice. As Andrewf said it can be uncomfortable if your hip is knocking the vice when planing. I mentioned my old bench being 8 feet long, I did not have a problem with my Record 52 ½ set into the bench on the LH end as I still had plenty of length along the remainder of the bench for working on.
So I guess its mainly a question of what you are going to be using the bench for and how big you can build it?

Mike
 

Mark A

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I'm also left handed but have learnt to use my right hand when there isn't an alternative (apart from using scissors - they don't seem to work with either hand).

Eric - a while back I had the opportunity to fire a Brown Bess musket and that had to be done right handed as the pan was situated on that side of the gun, otherwise I wouldn't have had any eyebrows left!

Mark
 
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