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There are 2 types of palms used by professionals. The seaming palm is used for sewing seams, patches and in general, lighter work. The eye has several indentation to accept the eye end of the needle.
The roping palm is used for heavier work such as sewing boltrope to the sail. The indentations in the eye are fewer and larger to accept the end of the larger needles that are required for heavier work. Leather extends up the thumb of the roping palm. This allows the user to wrap the thread around the thumb for greater pull without cutting into flesh.
A professional palm is a personal tool for use by one individual. The palm should fit snugly. It should become part of the user's hand. Our professional palms are made of heavy leather and rawhide and are very stiff when new. An old sailmaker once told me to make a palm fit the user's hand you must soak the palm in water, then wear it all day. The leather will shrink and conform to your hand. Oil it and work with it, and don't let anyone else use it!
Just so you know, a right-handed person uses a right-handed palm. All of these pictures are of right-handed palms. The adjustable palm and the seaming palm are also available in left-handed versions.
If you're looking for a unique gift for someone who sails, a new palm might be just the thing!
Until next time, happy gift buying!