One of the most exciting parts of the spooncarving course with Fritiof Runhall last week was his advice on learning to carve with both hands. By making the same cuts with the same angles but mirrored by using the other hand is the truest way to achieve symmetry in carving. Normally, when carving the outline shape of a spoon one side has to be carved looking from underneath. If you use both hands you can work on each side without turning the spoon and while looking at it from the same angle.
I started with practising axing with the left hand which was a brilliant experience. I kept swapping the axe back and forth to feel the action in my dominant hand and try to copy it in the other. The key is to relax and be confident at which point I started to feel comfortable with it and quickly got the accuracy to start axing spoon blanks with both hands. After that I worked on some simple knife cuts and straight away saw the benefits. It was also really fascinating to have to ‘learn’ to carve again, examining the way my hands normally work together and transpose this across to the other side. It’s a brilliant exercise for anyone thinking of starting to teach spooncarving. You also see how the ‘non-dominant’ hand is doing just as skilled work in holding and manipulating the spoon while adding support to the cut.
Since then I’ve been swapping hands on all kinds of tasks from brushing my teeth to operating the computer mouse and cutting vegetables. It all helps build dexterity, confidence and ease of motion into the ‘other’ hand and best of all, it’s fun.