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Re: Shop lighting advice. *PIC*
Response To:
Shop lighting advice. ()

John K Jordan
Lee, I wonder if this will help your situation....

I have what I consider extremely good shop lighting - very bright T5 fluorescents which can be switched from 1/2 power to full power as needed, and task lighting at work areas, lathe, bandsaw, sharpening, drill press, etc. With all the lights on and the overheads on full power some people have joked they need sunglasses. I think it is perfect. I did position the overheads carefully to avoid glare from the shiny cabinet saw table.

It is well known the several smaller diameter task lights (so called "point source" lights) are better that broad, more diffuse lighting (such as fluorescents high on the ceiling) for certain things, specifically at the lathe. Scratches and other defects are easier to see when light is glancing (scratches can be in shadows) rather than diffuse (scraches can be invisible)

Another thing with task lights I find very helpful at the lathe is they make it easier to judge the surface - irregularities, curves. Diffuse lighting can be "flat" which removes some of the visual 3-dimensionality. Light from close to the eyes, for example, from over the shoulder also flatten the view, similar using a strobe on the camera compared to a studio shot with the light from the side.

I do have long, bright fluorescents high above the lathes but they are on a separate switch so I can turn them off as needed. Two high CFLs are widely spaced enough to help rather than hurt. Some lights are on cheap swing arms with various bulbs from HD. Some are different color temperatures (soft, daylight, etc) which I believe addes to the 3-dimensionality. I like the bright LED fixtures with magnetic bases that Ken Rizza sells (Woodturners Wonders) - I use them on 6 machines/work areas. I have three lights on the bandsaw (left, right, up in front) which makes it a joy to use.

I don't get glare or bright lights in the eyes anywhere I work in the shop.

I find several lights from different side angles the best. Here are some at my lathe (sorry, poor photo), overhead lights off.

With overhead lights on for general work.

Second lathe, overhead lights off:

Metal lathe, mill, similar task lighting (overhead lights off):

I don't know if lights like this would help with your issues but it might be worth a try.


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