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Left handed ship 
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:14 pm
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Post Left handed ship
Dave, the photograph on the hangi-toh page show a right handed tool, but the ship diagram is left-handed (if we take the point of view of the carver, which would seem sensible). It might be less confusing if this diagram was flipped over.


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Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:09 am
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Post Re: Left handed ship
Hah! Interesting twist on this ...

I myself had been interpreting that diagram and feeling that we were watching a knife being moved through the wood away from us. But yes, that would put the knife moving the opposite direction to the ship, which is coming towards us.

Does it matter? I'm going to have to ponder this one, and think about how people might be interpreting it ...

(But I think the main point - that the flat side doesn't harm the wood, and the bevel side does, is clear ...)


Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:21 am
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Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:33 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
I think the diagram works fine to literally 'illustrate' the point that is being made, that the bevel edge causes damage to the edge and the flat edge doesn't. I suppose you could flip the ship image if it was such a big issue, but I think that may puzzle a beginner.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:28 am
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Post Re: Left handed ship
I don't think Tom mean to flip just the ship part, which would indeed be confusing, but the entire thing. And actually, I've tried that here, and I've almost convinced myself it might indeed be better for a beginner this way. But presumably that's because I'm left-handed.

The image flipped this way (as below), matches what I myself see as I carve (in real life with a tilt, of course). The 'good' wood is to the left of the (right-handed) blade, which is moving towards us.


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Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:40 am
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Post Re: Left handed ship
Man, I am now really confused. I know I am right-handed, but everything else is up for debate.
The flipped diagram is what I see when I carve, except with a tilt to the port side.
Maybe I was supplied with left-handed tools and I've developed some freaky overhand style.
Seems like we need a right-handed video to clear this up.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:41 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
Is this what you see when you carve?

You are grabbing with your right hand presumably. If you are cutting with palm down, looking out over the back of your hand, then you are doing what our flipped ship image shows, and you are OK.


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Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:49 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
And here's exactly the same cutting action (from the wood's point of view), by a left-hander.


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Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:53 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
OK Dave, we are all in order. Having just re-read the boxed section Left/Right Confusions, Stage One: Cutting The Lines - I now understand that you are a left-hander cutting in the open-handed style using a right handed tool. While I am a right-hander cutting in the traditional back-handed style, but we are both using the same right-handed tool. This explains why we both see the same thing when we carve. Easy. Seems like a good case for flipping the diagram over - except that this whole thread would then become meaningless.

I guess you must have tried a left-handed hangi-toh and the traditional grip. I wonder why you are not a back-hander? Should I buy myself a left-hand tool and try the open-handed grip? I guess not, but it is interesting to note that there are two options available to every carver. Is one way better than another? I am sure there are some firm opinions out there.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:52 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
Good grief - don't even think about changing - I'm the one who is 'wrong' here, not you! (Wrong in the sense of not following the old method exactly.)

I do it the way I do because I just 'fell into it'. Of course the only knives on the market were for right-handed people, and I had no idea at all how to use it. I wasn't concerned about any of these issues back at the beginning, because I had no idea that the bevel could cause such problems, so I just used the knife in the method that 'came naturally'.

It was only years later, when I was carving the calligraphy for the long poets' series, that I finally learned enough to realize that I had just got 'lucky' - carving 'on the inside', with a knife meant for the other hand. If I were just starting out all over again, I would definitely train myself to carve 'on the outside', as you are doing. I think the accuracy is far better, and the resulting variations in the bevel of the wood on the finished piece (no connection with the bevel on the knife) can make the block easier to print. (There's another post on this forum that touches on that issue ...)


Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:11 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
And just to help round things off, Mark has sent in this version ... which might keep all of us happy ... !


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Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:31 am
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Post Re: Left handed ship
This is all really interesting stuff. I always thought Rebecca Salter's book had it wrong regarding which edge was up against the line, and have always ignored that part of her widely available book.

I fall in the middle between you both.
I'm left-handed, like Dave, but use the back-handed method, like Tom, but I use a Left-Handed Hangito, which I'm now assuming is a very recent innovation.
Do you think that traditionally left-handers were made to use their right hands during their training, or is there just less of an emphasis on handedness in Japan as opposed to Europe? (Slightly drifting of topic, sorry.)


Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:11 am
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Post Re: Left handed ship
I remember asking Ito-san about lefties once, and he said - as you would expect - that he had never heard of any. There's no reason at all why it would make any difference in the carving, but with the printing, the idea of a left-handed printer is impossible in this tradition. And even though I am left-handed, if I were running a shop with apprentices, and a left-hander knocked on the door to join, with the intention of really becoming a serious printer (in the traditional styles), I'm not sure if I would want to encourage him ...

(I'll be meeting Asaka-san the carver down in Tokyo tomorrow, and will see what he knows about the background of lefties in this field ...)


Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:23 am
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Post Re: Left handed ship
So is the Rebecca Salter book wrong?

An illustration of the side elevation of the side elevation of a left handed and and a right handed hangito would be useful.

I have a long handled Sosaku student set, is it possible that they have supplied both a left handed and right handed hangito?

I have a suspicion that this is the case and as a right hander my first blocks were all cut using a left handers hangito which was done before I got this book.

Whilst I can see how the holding of a shorter barrel would be more comforatble to draw the blade with, any tips on using the longer Sosaku hangito would be great.

Thanks.


Fri Oct 23, 2009 5:43 pm
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Post Re: Left handed ship
Well, please don't get me in trouble with Ms. Salter, whom I have never met. (I'd love to talk with her about these things.)

Her book clearly states, both on page 20 and again on page 71 (with emphasis this time), that the bevel is to face the area to be kept. From the traditional carver's point of view, this is incorrect. From the 20th century modern printmaker's point of view, it is common practice.

Toshi Yoshida's book shows an illustration with the bevel against the wood - on page 41 - although he doesn't actually mention the bevel in the text at all. And the illustration 'cheats' - it shows the wood being distorted on the 'discard' side (against the flat side of his knife), but not on the 'keep' side (against his bevel side). One suspects his illustrator may not have had a very clear idea of what was going on ...

You know, in all this discussion of how the bevel does or doesn't damage the wood, there is a very simple way for anybody to answer it for himself. Get the knife, get a piece of wood, and carefully try a number of cuts in different ways. Grab a magnifying glass, and inspect the results!

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any tips on using the longer Sosaku hangito would be great

Well, it wouldn't really be proper for me to talk too much about those tools, because honestly speaking, I have never used them extensively at all. In the case of my normal carving knife - the hangi-toh - my thumb goes over the top. Sometimes the stock is a bit too long, so I trim it down to make it short enough for my thumb to sit up there with no stretching.

For the sosaku type, you have to wrap your thumb around (either to the left or right), but - to me - that makes it more difficult to get good 'accuracy' with the tool.

I hope other cutters with more experience with those tools will speak up and add their experiences here!


Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:43 pm
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