Whether you’re a left-handed tech yourself, have one as a coworker, or simply want to see nails from a different perspective, you can benefit from learning about how south paw nail techs adapt their set-ups to stay in their right minds and in the right career path for them.
Since electric files are motorized and have the capacity for quick injury to tech or client if used incorrectly, it’s especially important that nail techs — both left- and right-handed — are trained in proper e-file usage and are following best practices. (We recommend you take an in-person training class before using an e-file on clients.) That said, there are special considerations for left-handed e-filers. E-file instructor and (right-handed) nail tech Vicki Peters, who has been teaching for more than 15 years, says she gets about four lefties enrolled in each of her classes. She dispels the myth that left-handed e-filers have to learn from left-handed instructors. She says simply that the instructor “should mirror the left-handed tech when you teach them whereas I would stand behind the right handed tech to teach them.” Some of the key left-handed adaptations are:
Spin Direction: If you’re left-handed, be sure to only buy e-files that have “reverse” as a spin direction option. Most left-handed techs we interviewed said they are only comfortable filing in reverse (whereas most right-handed techs use “forward” for most services). However, that’s not to say all left-handed techs exclusively use the reverse setting. Peters says, “I have found that about half of the left-handed techs use the e-file in the forward motion and do not even know it.”
Starting Point: Most right-handed techs work in a left-to-right motion, which means, since the tech and client are facing each other, the tech starts with the client’s right hand. Whereas most left-handed techs work in a right-to-left motion, so they start with the client’s left hand first. (This goes for other prep aspects of the service, plus polishing too, not just for e-filing.) However, this is also a matter of personal preference.
Balance for Control: In her classes, Peters has noticed that left-handed techs have more difficulty balancing their hands with the fulcrum finger when filing. Instead, left-handed techs tend to place the inside of their wrists on the table and balance that way, which gives them less control.
A one-cut carbide bit will not work in the reverse spin direction because the teeth face the other way.
Some left-handed techs have found success with two-way carbide bits, such as this one by Medicool. These bits have two sets of teeth — facing in both directions — so they cut whichever way the machine motor is rotating.
Bits: Finding the correct bits, the attached abrasive piece of an electric file used directly on the nail, can be a major challenge for lefties. The problem lies primarily with carbide bits (bits made of hard metals like tungsten carbide) because these bits have “teeth” (also known as flutes) that must face in one direction or another.
Next page: Innovations in bits and Being Ambidextrous