Level-up for Lefties

By Glowforge

Challenge: Redesign a common tool to better serve left-handed people.

Left-handedness is a gift, but it’s also a challenge for about 10% of humankind. With so many products designed for a right-handed world, lefties are often overlooked. How can you redesign or adapt a common product to make daily tasks more efficient and enjoyable for lefties?

Facilitation Guide


If you predominantly use your right hand, try picking up a pair of scissors with your left hand and cutting a piece of paper. Feels weird, right? Products are often designed for right-handed people because they represent the overwhelming majority of the market. That leaves left-handed people awkwardly and uncomfortably trying to adapt to products not designed with them in mind, from scissors to pens to construction tools.

You can improve the lives of left-handed people by practicing empathy through design. Manufacturers and product designers weigh many factors as they refine their products, including , ergonomic comfort, durability, functionality, and ease of use. Following ergonomic design principles, you will redesign a product to better serve left-handed users.

Glowforge is an ideal tool for experimenting with physical prototypes. It can cut, engrave, and score thousands of materials, giving students a wide range of options as they research. The powerful, easy-to-use software lets them quickly refine designs and try out new ideas. It’s flexible and adaptable, limited only by what you can imagine.


Explore common items that create challenges for left-handed people. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • What challenges do left-handed people face when using products designed for right-handed people? Listen to this podcast or read this article to understand the frustrations for lefties in a world designed for right-handed people.
  • How do left-handed people adapt to using products designed for right-handed people?
  • What common products do people use that create barriers or challenges for left-handed people? How do seemingly neutral items such as a pen or pencil favor right-handers? Consider conducting surveys, interviews, or observations to help you bring empathy to the design process.
  • What products could you redesign to make daily tasks easier and more enjoyable for lefties?
  • What principles of ergonomics could help guide your redesign?

Explore Tip

Find some common products that you use every day. Try using the product with your non-dominant hand. Note any discomfort, barriers, or safety concerns. Think about if and how the product can be redesigned. Still not sure how to redesign a product with Glowforge? Check out this gaming keyboard that was redesigned for lefties.

Reflect and Review

Reflect on the research you did for your left-handed product redesign.

  • What did you learn about products that cause challenges for left-handed people?
  • How might you use principles of ergonomics to redesign a product?

What other resources or techniques could you use before moving on to the Ideate stage? There you will brainstorm ways to redesign a common product for left-handed people.


Brainstorm and experiment with different techniques and design ideas, thinking of as many as you can! You don’t need to worry about whether they’re good or bad ideas — just get creative! Think about:

  • What design changes could make a product more effective and empathetic to the needs of left-handers?
  • How can you change the product to make it more ergonomic for lefties?
  • Does the whole product need to change or just certain components?
  • Perhaps a peer’s idea works well with yours — collaborate to make both of your ideas even better.

Ideate Tip

Do you have an idea that requires components to bend and move? You can create a living hinge that allows wood to bend and move, or use this guide to learn more about printing joinery. Check out how to create a living hinge with the help of this video or the Glowforge Community.

Reflect and Review

Reflect for a moment on your ideas.

  • Are any of your ideas similar? Can they be grouped together?
  • How did empathy and ergonomics impact your ideas?

Are there any gaps in your brainstorming ideas? Think about anything you want to add before moving on to the Design stage. There you’ll narrow your ideas to one or two lefty products to fully redesign.


Review your ideas and select one or two that you would like to develop further by creating sketches or digital mockups. Ask yourself:

  • What materials and techniques will you use to redesign the product for durability, ergonomic comfort, and functionality?
  • What software tools can you use, in addition to the Glowforge App, to help you model the full product? Can you use CAD software like SketchUp or AutoCAD to help you model in 3D?
  • How will my redesign support the needs of left-handed people?
  • Can my redesign support the needs of all users, regardless of their dominant hand?

Design Tip

For designs developed using third-party design software, files can be easily uploaded into the Glowforge app. The Glowforge can engrave from a JPG or PNG image file and it can cut or engrave from SVG and PDF files.

Reflect and Review

Take a moment to reflect on your progress.

  • Does your redesign support the needs of left-handed people?
  • How will you ensure that it’s comfortable, functional, and durable?

You’re almost ready to create! Is there anything you’d like to change before you start creating?


Select one fully developed redesign. Using the Glowforge, print a prototype on appropriate materials. Ask yourself the following:

  • What materials and tools should you use to create a functional prototype?
  • What are the pros and cons of different materials? Which support both comfort and durability?
  • How will you test and refine your prototype to meet the needs of left-handed users?

Prototype Tip

If your prototype is too complex or takes too long to print, try simplifying it. Break your prototype down into smaller, more manageable components and test each component individually for functionality. If you added aesthetic parts to your design, select Ignore when you are printing your prototype. This will reduce the amount of time the print takes, and you can focus on function. Remember to add the element back in when you are ready for a final print.

Reflect and Review

Think about your prototypes.

  • What do you notice about their functionality, comfort, and durability?
  • Now that you’ve tested them, are there elements you want to revisit?

Do you want to revisit any stages, or rethink any part of your redesign before moving on to the Evaluation stage?


After creating and testing your prototype, it’s time for feedback. Here are some sample questions to get useful and actionable feedback from your peers:

  • How does the functionality, ergonomic comfort, and efficiency of the redesigned product compare to the original?
  • How durable is it?
  • How effectively does it meet the needs of left-handed users? Connect with lefties around your school or community. Have them try out your redesigned product and collect their feedback.

Evaluate Tip

Record a video of yourself or others using your new product. Know a lefty who is willing to help? Ask them to test your product and record their user testing. Post the video on an interactive whiteboard, such as Padlet, or video discussion platform, such as Flip, to expand your feedback audience.

Reflect and Review

Reflect on the feedback you received.

  • What do you need to revisit or adjust based on feedback?
  • Which stages in the process might you return to in making these adjustments?

Once you have completed and finalized your redesign, share it with a larger audience!

Share your students' creations on social media! Post your photos and use the hashtag #GlowforgeEDU and tag us @glowforge for the chance to be featured.