We all know that
natural light is the best light to use.
A workbench snuggled
up to a huge, north facing window would present the
best light throughout the day.
As I get older, I get blinder
(it really is a word). We all know that natural light is the
best light to use. A workbench snuggled up to a huge, north
facing window would present the best light throughout the
day; natural light where harsh shadows would be minimized
and light would be as consistent as possible.
circumstances get in the way. My current shop is a one car
garage with a west facing garage door. There are no windows,
so natural light is only available through the garage door,
and it is minimal until after noon. As the sun clears the
house, things change. Natural light becomes very harsh. This
isn't so bad when planing a board, but it becomes as
unusable as total darkness when trying to cut dovetails, or
do layout work, or any number of other tasks.
Now, keep in mind that I'm not
a physicist who can tell you the difference in wave length
between UV and infrared. I'm not an ophthalmologist who can
tell you about rods and cones or how the human brain
interprets visible light. I'm not an industrial engineer who
can tell you the optimal angle for lighting a work area.
I'm not a lighting expert of
any kind. It is way beyond the scope of my abilities to
teach anyone about the intricacies of light. What I am is an
aging, amateur woodworker. I simply want more light where I
need it, when and how I want it, and that I can control as I
"see fit." When it comes to lighting in my shop, it's all
Necessity is the mother of
invention. I didn't invent lights, but I have lights. What
I've discovered over time is that lights can be a great
great asset AND a pain in the keister.
General lighting adds increased
visibility. Directional lighting can help eliminate shadows.
Raking (very low angle) lighting can help in showing flaws
in surface prep. Certain types of light can aide in color
selection when finishing. However, lighting mounts can get
in the way. Moving and positioning lights can interrupt work
flow. Lights can cause as many annoyances as they solve
So, here are some ideas that
I've come up with to help myself in the lighting arena.
These are ways to mount lights such that they stay out of
the way, but offer light when, where, and how I need it. I'm
sure there are others, but these have helped me... Maybe,
they will help someone else.
My first, um... fix
We've all seen the reticulating
arm desk lamp assemblies designed to swivel at two points
(typically the lamp can and mounting fixture) and extend or
retract on a hinge point. They range in price from a few
dollars at the discount stores to a few hundred, depending
on options and vendor. Mounting options are usually limited
to either a heavy pedestal to offset the weight of the
fixture or a screw bracket that's attached to the edge of
The brackets are far too small
to attach to a 5" thick bench, and the pedestals tend to
take a lot of bench space.
But, these lamps are very
inexpensive and offer a viable solution. And yet, I hate
this lamp. I have a "sense" that one shouldn't help top off
a land fill with things that are still functional. It's the
only reason I still have this lamp. Oddly though, the cheap
versions of these lamps seem to hold up as well as the high
dollar versions. That's a shame, too. I'd love to be able to
justify throwing this thing away.