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Left handedness in kitchen

zackly Feb 22, 2014 10:58 AM

I am an older (64) left handed cook whose grown up cooking in a right handed world. I've had to adapt to right handed bias in the kitchen Nothing much bothers me except manual can openers are difficult to use but not so much that I've bought a left handed one. I own a left handed expensive Japanese chef's knife that's too nice to use. I'm sure there are many items that I'm not even aware of that are easier for right handed people. Have you made an concessions to your left handedness like buying left handed tools or set up your kitchen differently?

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  1. d
    dfrostnh RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 11:02 AM

    I am fortunate that I learned to do some things right handed which includes using scissors. I would think you would need left handed poultry shears or other heavy duty scissors for opening plastic packages.

    I do open my fridge with my left hand but I grab contents with my right. The fridge is at the left end of the counter.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dfrostnh
      paulj RE: dfrostnh Feb 23, 2014 12:16 AM

      Some time ago I bought a high quality left hand sewing scissors (from a marine supply shop that was going out of business), and found I couldn't use them very well.

      I'm just too used to using scissors in my right hand. It turns out with good scissors handedness is more than the shape of the handles. If used in the correct hand, your hand actually forces the blades together. In the other, they spread a part a bit, and don't cut nearly as well.

      1. re: paulj
        Ulyyf RE: paulj Feb 26, 2014 12:32 PM

        Left handed scissors do not just have differently shaped handles, they are screwed together differently, with the opposite blade on top.

    2. Shrinkrap RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 01:40 PM

      I'm sure we all know how to get along, but every once in awhile ther is an "aha!".

      When I had my kitchen re-done the sink faucet was designed for a leftie. I may not really notice it much, but I know the sink at my office is not. In my office, I end up with my left wrist under the running water when it comes on.

      The hot water knob, or if there is just one knob, should be to the left of the running water.

      1. c
        critter101 RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 02:53 PM

        Be kind to yourself, just use the knife.

        1. King of Northern Blvd RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 03:51 PM

          Interesting. I am left handed and have never felt the need to use a left handed cooking item. I can use right handed scissors in my left hand just fine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: King of Northern Blvd
            DuffyH RE: King of Northern Blvd Feb 24, 2014 11:30 PM

            <I can use right handed scissors in my left hand just fine.>

            It's not a question of not being able to use them. It's about lining things up. A left-handed pair will allow your eyes to look straight down at the cutting edge, making alignment a cinch. Using righty scissors in the left hand, the cutting edge is completely obscured.

          2. r
            rasputina RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 05:54 PM

            For me it's more of an issue when sewing than cooking. I'm somewhat ambidextrous but it's selective. I don't use knives in my right hand ever same with scissors. I use a top mount can opener. I can't say if I've set up the kitchen differently since I have always just put things as they are most natural to me. Plus my mother is left handed too, so I probably picked up things from her.

            1. Breadcrumbs RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 06:18 PM

              I'm a lefty that never had issues in the kitchen or otherwise. That said, a dear friend gifted me with a number of "lefty" kitchen items one year and while most quickly made their way to the thrift store donation pile as I wasn't able to operate them competently, I did keep the Joyce Chen left-handed bamboo spatula. I love it and use my wok far more frequently and effectively because of this amazing utensil with the perfect angle and edge for a lefty like me!!!

              1. s
                sandylc RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 08:11 PM

                Regarding the can opener, shouldn't you just hold it with the handles pointing away from you? Seems like that might work...

                1 Reply
                1. re: sandylc
                  Shrinkrap RE: sandylc Feb 22, 2014 09:26 PM


                2. s
                  sandylc RE: zackly Feb 22, 2014 08:14 PM

                  Pardon my ignorance, but how can a knife be left- or right-handed?

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: sandylc
                    Shrinkrap RE: sandylc Feb 22, 2014 09:23 PM

                    Some knives are sharpened on just one side, or are designed to "push" in one direction or another.

                    Here's a thread.


                    1. re: sandylc
                      Cynic2701 RE: sandylc Feb 23, 2014 01:06 AM

                      There can be a difference in grind (the way that the entire knife is shaped) and/or there can be a difference in how the bevels are sharpened.

                      The grind can be formed to make the knife look like "\l" shape, a "V" shape, or a "l/" shape. Left handed grinds are pretty rare, though some makers will do them upon request.

                      The bevels can be sharpened asymmetrically, meaning that instead of sharpening the knife evenly on both sides, one side is favored over the other. The typical knife is sharpened 50/50 on both sides (though, since most knives are sharpened by hand, this can be a little off). Some sharpeners knowingly sharpen more on one side, for example a 30/70 bevel with more sharpening on the right side of the knife. An asymmetrical bevel like this will improve cutting performance for one hand, but will correspondingly lower it for the other hand.

                      1. re: sandylc
                        TeRReT RE: sandylc Feb 23, 2014 07:18 AM

                        In addition to the blade differences the handles can be different. I have a knife with a D shaped handle which is clearlynfor right handed people but since I pinch grip anyways it's not a dealbreaker.

                        1. re: TeRReT
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: TeRReT Feb 24, 2014 11:51 PM

                          Still, vast majority of the knives (in US) have a neutral handiness to them. Therefore, most left handed people won't really suffer from not having a left handiness knife -- just like most right handed people do not own a right handiness knife to begin with.

                          Most cookware are neutral anyway, like pots and pans, turners and skimmers, toaster ovens. Only few tools have "direction" to them, but only fewer still have true handiness to the them. For example, a salad spinner either turns clockwise or counter-clockwise, but neither is really right handed vs left handed.


                          I have owned refrigerators with doors opening from the left side vs the right side. I don't find one to be more accommodating than the other.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            TeRReT RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 25, 2014 01:58 AM

                            if opening fridge door is a left/right handed problem just get a Japanese fridge. The sharp has solved that problem.


                            1. re: TeRReT
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: TeRReT Feb 25, 2014 06:23 AM

                              :) This is so awesome. Thanks for sharing, buddy.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              DuffyH RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 25, 2014 05:34 AM

                              <Most cookware are neutral anyway, like pots and pans, turners and skimmers, toaster ovens.>

                              Exactly. With very few exceptions, kitchens and the things in them are equal. Angled turners are a notable exception, with almost all of them right-handed. Try though I might, they just don't work well in the left hand.

                              1. re: DuffyH
                                Chemicalkinetics RE: DuffyH Feb 25, 2014 06:37 AM

                                I always think of the things are unintentionally left handed more so than right handed. For example -- opening and closing a jar with a screw top cap. By most conventions, clockwise motion is to tighten, and counter-clockwise motion is to loosen. This means, for a right handed person, it is easier to tight than to loose, and it is easier for a left handed person to loose than to tight.

                                Since loosening is the bigger challenge than tightening, I say a left handed person has an advantage here.


                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  JayL RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 25, 2014 09:26 PM

                                  As a leftie, I naturally hold a jar in m left hand and screw the lid with my right...using my non-dominant hand. I've never thought about it so I don't know if this is normal or "backwards".

                                  1. re: JayL
                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: JayL Feb 25, 2014 10:08 PM

                                    Well, as a rightie, I also hold my jar in my left hand and screw/unscrew the lid with my dominant hand (right hand).

                                    1. re: JayL
                                      rasputina RE: JayL Mar 5, 2014 08:40 AM

                                      I do the opposite, and I'm left handed, I hold the jar in my right hand and screw the lid with my left.

                                      1. re: rasputina
                                        Cam14 RE: rasputina Mar 5, 2014 02:01 PM

                                        Same here.

                                        1. re: Cam14
                                          Shrinkrap RE: Cam14 Mar 5, 2014 08:28 PM

                                          Maybe it's a dexterity thing, more than a strength thing.

                                          1. re: Shrinkrap
                                            JayL RE: Shrinkrap Mar 5, 2014 09:33 PM

                                            I don't know what it is...I just grab it naturally that way for no good reason.

                                            1. re: JayL
                                              Shrinkrap RE: JayL Mar 6, 2014 02:35 PM

                                              Try your other hand, and see what it is like.

                                              I think for me it would be similar to some problem with some can openers. Having to do that twisting motion with certain "twisters" is not something that I can do in my sleep with the "wrong" hand. The bigger the twister, the easier, I reckon'. I could "get 'er done", but not without thinking about it.

                                              Why am I "talking" like this?

                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  paulj RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 26, 2014 08:15 AM

                                  The hinges (and handle) on my fridge can be mounted on either side. The mounting holes are symmetrically placed. It's more a matter of adapting to kitchen layout than owner(s) handedness.

                                  1. re: paulj
                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: paulj Feb 26, 2014 09:37 AM

                                    <It's more a matter of adapting to kitchen layout than owner(s) handedness.>

                                    I agree.

                            3. m
                              masha RE: zackly Feb 23, 2014 09:19 AM

                              As most lefties know, there is a spectrum of left-handedness, with some lefties tending towards ambidexterity and others being strongly left-handed. I am in the former group -- e.g., have always used scissors and knives with my right hand; play some sports righty (bat and golf) and others lefty (tennis and ping pong) -- all badly; and have always eaten European style with fork in left and knife in right. I generally stir/ whisk with my left hand but, when doing so for a long time, if my left hand tires, I will switch for a period to my right.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: masha
                                rasputina RE: masha Feb 23, 2014 11:43 AM

                                Well some sports rely more on eye dominance, like shooting than hand dominance like tennis. I'm cross dominant, in that I'm left handed but right eye dominant.

                                1. re: masha
                                  DuffyH RE: masha Feb 24, 2014 11:33 PM

                                  I also bat and golf right-handed, because my rightie dad taught me. For everything else, I'm an obligate leftie.

                                2. DuffyH RE: zackly Feb 24, 2014 11:23 PM

                                  Because my Dude can't seem to handle left-handed scissors, the pair we keep in my knife block is right-handed, and used for general kitchen cutting. I've got left-handed Gingher sewing shears and an extra cheap leftie scissors in a kitchen drawer.

                                  Other than that, I put up with right-handed stuff, but I don't like it.

                                  1. JayL RE: zackly Feb 25, 2014 09:19 PM

                                    Personally I've never NOT been able to do anything in the kitchen. I don't have any left-hand specific tools.

                                    Poultry/Herb sheers...I just use the regular ones everyone does...and I use them in my left hand. I have never had an issue using right-handed scissors...even as a child.

                                    I've used multiple can openers over the years...again, no issues in my left hand.

                                    1. Shrinkrap RE: zackly Feb 25, 2014 09:55 PM

                                      WI think most lefties would agree it is rarely about what we can't do. I think we can do anything. Still, we might share some perspective on what might be easier. "Skin tone" and "perm" might not apply eitherI

                                      The one that annoys me the most often, besides the right handed faucet at one place I work, is not in the kitchen. It's at the bank with those tethered signature thingy's.

                                      I know; first world problems!

                                      1. m
                                        medrite RE: zackly Feb 26, 2014 08:29 AM

                                        Can't say I've ever had a problem with knives, although I would like to try a left-handed one just to see if it makes a difference. I do have a problem with most pairs of scissors, I've just learned to live with it over the years and keep promising myself that one of these days I'll invest in a left-handed pair. Manual can openers are a lost cause for me, I am completely reliant on my electric one. This became quite a problem during a recent power outage and I had to open a can of dog food. My dog was not amused.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: medrite
                                          JayL RE: medrite Feb 26, 2014 11:33 AM

                                          If you're using regular European knives, they generally are not hand specific. I doubt 99% of people could tell a difference regardless of hand used. Certain Japanese knives can be ground left or right handed. My guess is that it would be a very obvious difference felt by the vast majority of people.

                                          I've already stated that I have never had an issue with scissors. I remember having a left handed pair as a child...you know, the ones with the rounded tips (safety scissors). I quickly learned how to make regular scissors work in my left hand. It is something that I don't even think about since I use them as naturally as anyone else.

                                          I'm actually lost as to why people can't get can openers to work. You just squeeze and turn. What is it that seems to be the issue with lefties? Again, I have no issue with this.

                                          1. re: JayL
                                            medrite RE: JayL Feb 26, 2014 12:22 PM

                                            LOL -- maybe you're just more coordinated than I am! Dunno, for some reason I've just never had good luck with manual can openers. I may have overstated the case with the scissors, I do find them a bit awkward but not to where it's ever really been an issue. Which is probably why I've never bothered to try a left-handed pair.

                                            1. re: medrite
                                              Shrinkrap RE: medrite Feb 26, 2014 07:43 PM

                                              Dexterity certainly varies, even among righties. I think of dexterity as specifically a hand or finger or fine motor issue, rather than a coordination which seems more gross motor. As I've mentioned we have all learned to adapt, and most of us have to.

                                              First world problems!

                                              And I can totally see why it's hard for some folks to "get" something so subtle. How many of us could "get" the difference between 20/20 and 20/30 vision without someone showing us with our own eyes?

                                              So yes; we ARE special! ♥

                                            2. re: JayL
                                              DuffyH RE: JayL Feb 27, 2014 01:30 AM

                                              <I've already stated that I have never had an issue with scissors.>

                                              Nor I. But. After using right-handed scissors (in my left hand) all my life, it was a revelation the first time I used a pair made for lefties. Ah! So THIS is what I'm supposed to see when I look at things I'm cutting.

                                              <since I use them as naturally as anyone else.>

                                              Ditto. But we can never see the cutting edge of the blade, as righties do. This makes it more difficult for us to make precision cuts.

                                          2. amysuehere RE: zackly Mar 3, 2014 07:58 AM

                                            One thing I love is my left-handed sauce pot by Emeril. It has a left-handed pour spout.

                                            My father also made me a left-handed wooden spoon (flat edge on the bottom when you hold it in your left hand).

                                            1. d
                                              DavidPonting RE: zackly Mar 4, 2014 01:52 AM

                                              Scissors are the one real problem - because using them in the wrong hand forces the blades apart rather than together, they're a right pain! I can use right-handed scissors in my right hand, but I always automatically try with my left first and have to switch them.

                                              Knives, can openers &c I can handle - whether my serrated breadknife which is ground on the one side and if I both use it in my left hand and don't pay attention gives slices that are thicker at the bottom, or a true singe-bevel Japanese knife, which I just use in my right. I eat with the cutlery the same way round as righties, I whisk/beat with my left as its my stronger hand, but can use the right when it tires.

                                              Sports it varies, and I will often change hands as a ball is being bowled (before it is actually released, but while the bowler is running up) to really confuse the opposition - particularly good in cricket, since the fielding team don't know which side they need to set up for - which I suppose means that I'm close to ambidextrous.

                                              Bizarrely, I'm right-eyed when using equipment, since that's set up for a right hander (both camera viewfinders relative to grips, and the cartridge eject from a gun (which if you shoot left-eyed cuts right in front of your face), but strongly left-eyed in every day life (and it's only half as shortsighted as the right eye as well).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: DavidPonting
                                                Shrinkrap RE: DavidPonting Mar 4, 2014 06:34 PM

                                                Drops the mike.

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