Hand Tools Archive

One Hand Trains the Brain to Control the Other

david weaver
For several years, I have ripped with my right arm, and when it gets tired, I sit and rip from a seated position cutting toward me.

I have a table saw, but I just don't enjoy working with it or a thickness planer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was resawing some typical stock, and it occurred to me that I might be able to resaw indefinitely with a hand stock (I have a large frame saw, but it's not worth the trouble of getting out of ripping something 4 inches wide). I recall when I first started resawing, controlling the saw was a problem. Not for long, but it was a problem.

However, I had no issue at all resawing left handed, and by that, I mean marking a board and then making the cut without switching sides or any of that makework.

Last night, I was ripping trim for my kitchen, which isn't a quick process, I guess, and the average intermittent woodworker isn't going to rip 20 feet of 5/4 cherry in one shot with one arm. Same experience as the resawing - it was no issue to rip left handed, though I'm sure it would've vexed me if my brain hadn't absorbed several years of understanding ripping by hand (without analyzing it, just ripping and getting better at it).

No clue why I didn't try any of this sooner. Should've!!

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