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ambidextrous - not!

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OK, so I had a bit of time after the demo visitors left this morning.

Thought an interesting exercise might be to forge an S hook with a twist - about as simple as it gets, but I decided to do it entirely with my left hand. What a learning experience! What would normally take me about 5 minutes flat, took almost half an hour and what a painful process. I finished up strangling the hammer to get some control and the forearm muscle cramped up quickly. And it was only mild 6mm square bar. Even the twisting was difficult and I wasn't game to smack the touchmark on.

I learnt three things from the exercise: 1. I am not ambidextrous 2. It gave me an understanding of how difficult simple processes may be for a rank beginner. 3. If I had to hit hard I would be dangerous.

So how are you with the hammer in the hand you don't usually use?

Here's the hook:

 

left hand hook.JPG

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I am left handed, and I'd say an s hook made with my right hand probably woun't be any better than that. Every now and then, I use my right hand to do a few hammer blows in a VERY awkward situation. I may just have to try that sometime...

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I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous. 

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One day I worked at the anvil and got things done, but it did not look correct for some reason. Next heat the same thing, it worked but did not look correct. Then it dawned on me. The anvil was pointed right handed and I naturally used my right hand for the hammer. I am left handed so it did not look correct, but it worked. From then on I trained my off hand to hammer. It took a while but the hand learned what I wanted it to do. Now I can work which ever way the horn is turned. The left hand is still used for the finer details, after all it has more experience.

Austere, try eating with the off hand, just a matter of training.  (grin)

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Glenn, which way should the Anvil be facing while hammering?  I didn't know that it made a difference.  I am Brand New to this, so I know the question is stupid, but I would really like to learn.  Thank you for your time.

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Anvil horn for me (left handed) is to my left. That way I can use the horn without the anvil getting in the way. If the horn is left and you are dominate right handed you have to reach around the anvil to get to the horn. Try it and see for yourself. 

When in doubt, point the anvil to North and use which ever side feels comfortable. (grin)

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3 hours ago, Glenn said:

Austere, try eating with the off hand, just a matter of training.  (grin)

I had my right shoulder repaired a few yrs. ago and being right handed I discovered fast there were a number of daily functions that didn't work  well using my left arm including eating.  I had had the left shoulder done 3 months before and breezed through that with little problems.   

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When I was a kid they tied my right arm behind my back in grade 1 because when I got tired using the left hand to write, I used to swap to the right hand. This was only a couple of years after they stopped forcing left handed kids to write right handed, so I suppose they were overreacting, didn't want anyone to see them having a left handed kid write right handed!

So, likely I am at least partially ambidextrous!

But over the years as I have got leg and arm injuries, I have had to "swap"  took me a little while, but heavy stuff like swinging a hammer or kicking a ball didn't take long to become proficient, but never could match the dexterity. Finer detail work though with the hands, left is my dominant, and I find I am just not able to do the finer stuff with my right!

 

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I use my left hand some. Im about half as fast that way but sometimes its fun to change it up. Technicus Joe on youtube has a good vid showing how to forge chain links left then right handed. Fun to watch. It looks natural for him. 

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Always tell my knife students one of the hardest things to do is make you right and left hand  work in mirror image with your left and right  hand  when grinding  knife blades. 

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Welcome aboard Slick glad to have you. How you orient your anvil is mostly a matter of personal preference though we take delight in poking fun at each other about it.

There are some good reasons depending on the situation. One as Glenn says is to get the rest of the anvil out of your way for some operations on the horn.

Another good reason is to take the taper of the horn into account. When using the horn as a fullering die the taper will cause you to draw a conic profile rather than straight flat. So you work both directions alternately for the easy correction.

Another reason also is because of the horn's taper, when truing up rings, etc. striking towards the end of the horn makes the work want to slide on the horn rather than effectively take the blow. To correct you can strike off handed, step to the other side of the anvil or turn it around. When striking towards the face the blow is more perpendicular to the horn so the work doesn't want to skid as much. 

Blacksmithing is hard physical work so you want to be as effective as possible, every operation has good methods and not so good methods, then there are the outright BAD ways to do things.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I learned a few months ago that I swing a sledge lefty (I'm right handed). I've tried switching and swinging right handed but it just doesn't feel right, I can, and after about 7 hours I do to give my left arm a break. Its good though, gives my left arm something to do.

                                                                                                                             Littleblacksmith

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I prefer my left hand, but I can swing a sledge righty style if I have to. I learned how to swing axes to cut fallen wood into short lengths by switching hands every three chops. I always split wood left handed, though. 

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It has been posted/presented on this site many a time; right handed/your anvil horn to your left. Left handed/your anvil horn to right.

Now I'm reading differently in this thread.

I dont subscribe to either method.  I do what I desire. Two anvils each opposite  one another. I have many suggestions from visitors and they must have good reason for me to change such as; if your anvil horn points south on a Friday, the heel will break off.

Until I hear something to the effect, i will operate my blower with  dominate hand and point the horn where I feel like.

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Well if you go back far enough you will see this discussion once where I went page by page through Practical Blacksmithing and whenever someone posted a drawing of how their shop was set up I recorded anvil direction---the first one the anvil pointed directly to the forge---they did a lot of rings in their shop and that was the handier orientation; otherwise is was a mix of both right and left and the mix did not mirror the prevalence of right vs left handers in the general population.  (so unless blacksmithing has a selection factor....)

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Thomas, I ran out of time to find the thread that you referenced, but this one from last year was pretty good, I think:

 

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1 hour ago, Anachronist58 said:

Thomas, I ran out of time to find the thread that you referenced, but this one from last year was pretty good, I think:

 

Link didn't show for some reason.

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