Workbench LED lamp - let there be light

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Blog entry by mafe posted 12-28-2019 12:41 AM 1896 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Workbench LED lamp
let there be light.

This project came to life for two reasons; the first was necessity, yes I’m getting older and besides glasses, I also need good light. The second reason was; that ever since I first saw the LED strips, I wanted to make something useful and not disco out of them, as I always saw them used for something fancy or bad taste and never something elegant.

Well I had to wait several years, this because the light for the first many years were way to cold for my taste, but then slowly the prices started lowering and so did the temperature of colour, finally about a year ago I saw that I could get them with a warm colour and at just 200 dkk / 30 usd / 23 gbp, including power supply – so there were no more excuses.

I had already thought up the project in my head, as I wanted a work light, that would be super slim and fit in over my workbench, that meant a colour that was woody and a simple shape – again it was less is plenty, that was mixed with recycle.

So here it is.
It’s the white lightsaber in front of my head, it gave me a wonderful work light today for cutting some fingers, for a tool tote, I’m working on (not my own fingers).
May the force be with you MaFe…
On this picture it looks too bright, it’s because it’s taken from the underside and with my mobile.

But let’s go back to the darkness.
Here the workbench before, where I had a ugly light hanging up high, that I used, when I had a need for a good light (the black thingy tube, with white grill). I was not proud, but pride can be bend as we get older and 20/20 vision is no longer a reality.
How ever what’s interesting on this photo is the wood pole that are laying on the workbench, it’s a trashed parasol rod, that I found in the street and took home with me. In fact I kept it for some years for this project, as the idea was in my head, long before I got the strips.

So let’s jump right into the making.
At first I cut the rod in just over half, down the centre on a table saw.
When I cut longer pieces I have to bring the saw into my workshop kitchen, as the room where the saw stands are so small.

As you could see on the last picture, I had screwed a square piece of wood on the side, to hold the rod in place as I cut it, so it would not spin on the saw.

Once it was in half, it was clamped to my work table and the I routed a 12mm deep hollow into it – did this in two passes as you can see.

Is it really that easy?

Last year I found some square metal rod in the trash and these were also saved for this project, so I did not even had to weld this time, but they might as well have been bend.
You also see the LED strip and transformer here.
Ohhh yes and someone lend me a hand as you can see…

Drilling the needed holes for mounting.

Making a thin end, that can be inserted into the lamp.

Unsharp – yes we already spoke of me getting older and needing glasses and light…

As I wanted the lamp to hang on my French cleat, I cut some short pieces of cleat and gave them holes for the square metal rod.

Here a larger hole so the bolt head, will not be against the wall.

Bolt, washer and self locking nut.

You get it again, as I just like this picture. Smiles.

Front and unsharp back.

Two arms for the work light.

Now for something completely different!!!
Everything here hangs on French cleat, drawers as well as tools.

Jig saw holder.

Really simple just layered plywood.

And French cleat on the back, so it can be hung easy.


I love those Makita tools btw, you get a lot of tool for the money.

Ok, let’s get back to the project (sorry, I just made it, at that point).
Drilled two holes into the back side of the lamp.

Like this, the arms can be mounted in the lamp.

It will be glued into the lamp with epoxy.

Now we have a lamp and arms.

So let there be light, he said.

It was made to hold three strips beside each other.
Amazing these little yellow dot’s can make all that light!

Testing where I want it.

Cutting off the extra and just making a U turn with the strip.

For now the other end will be like this.
But I did not wanted that plug in the lamp, so I had to think alternative.

All turned on!

I took the chance and exposed the little copper dots, then soldered a cable on to it.
Then drilled a extra hole under the lamp arm hole, where the wiring could get out as discrete as possible.

Like this I could cut the plug off at the end of the LED strip and use that in the other end of the gray cable.

Had to buy me a new soldering station as the other one was in my allotment house… grrrrrrr….
But it was fine as I could run low temperature on this one, while working on the LED strip.

The LED strips had 3M tape on the back, but I do not trust this on the long run, so I decided for some glue also.

A piece of nylon strip, glued like bridge over the strips for every 30cm.

And little glue bridges between the nylon strips, so it’s held for every 15cm.
Now I feel safe, also for the future.

Yeps it works!

Testing it over my work bench.
Here without it.

And now with the new light.
What a difference it makes!

– and there was light.
I’m really pleased, the room and wall keeps the atmosphere, but the work surface gets a bright light, so I can see the little details.

With the work lamp turned off.
(Yes the camera compensates here, but you can get the difference in light).

Hanging on the French cleat.
The lower block of wood, can be rounded to one side, if it should be easy to take on and off the wall.
(The string has nothing to do with the lamp, it’s a saw hanging in it).

Less is plenty, just stripped the cable to the arm, so it’s not visible from the top.
(No one will see it from the under side).

The end is near…
Just a rough cut, as I decided to keep it workshop style.

Down under…

Used it today with great joy, I can now see the little details and need no extra light brought to the work bench – so a happy monkey I am.

The First Day
… Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And seeing that the light was good, God separated the light from the darkness.…
(Beautiful words – I’m atheist btw. – just if someone will judge me for being religious or political…).

Hope it can be to some inspiration or even spread some light.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

11 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6867 posts in 1592 days

#1 posted 12-28-2019 01:13 AM

In my old shop, I was using corn-cob LED lights in standard sockets. The nice thing about that is that I can have fairly directional light, when I need to see the surface of a piece of wood I am finishing, but a large strip like this is also handy for overall lighting. Nice design, and I like the way you can hang it on a cleat. Clever!

I haven’t yet decided what I will be doing for light in my new shop. The permit from the county was supposed to have been approved today, but I haven’t heard. Hopefully on Monday I will see an earth-mover pushing around dirt.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Madmark2's profile


2308 posts in 1599 days

#2 posted 12-28-2019 02:18 AM

Got 5, 4’ LED fixtures for great light, can always use more. The LED fixtures are linkable so one click of the cord switch and all instantly come on with only one outlet used.

Our house is 100% LED, no incandescents, CFLs, or florescents. Dimmable warm white 60w LED bulbs are under $2.50 each so there is no point in not changing. You get two and a half times the light output for 1/4 of the electricity cost – 10x more efficient!


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View madts's profile


1953 posts in 3350 days

#3 posted 12-28-2019 04:46 AM

Smart Mads. I also need an upgrade. My eyes re getting tired.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4344 days

#4 posted 12-28-2019 12:24 PM

Your lighting fixture turned out super Mads and a great blog showing how you did it. It makes a big difference while working. I have florescent lighting throughout my shop and it does help me see what I’m doing (sometimes).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


787 posts in 790 days

#5 posted 12-28-2019 12:54 PM

I love the LED strips. I may use them, but for the time being I have a 1,000 wat (LED watt!!!!) parking lot light over my bench.

I am curious about your shop though…there appears to be a table saw in your kitchen, or a kitchenette in your shop.

View lew's profile


13317 posts in 4766 days

#6 posted 12-28-2019 02:58 PM

Yes, as our eyes get older we do need more light.

Modern technology without changing the wonderful charm of your work space. I salute you!!

Completely agree with your assessment of Makita tools.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View sansoo22's profile


1415 posts in 665 days

#7 posted 12-28-2019 03:11 PM

Good call on not trusting the 3m strips. I installed a Phillips Hue strip under my cabinets directly to wood and the tape failed in about 3 months. My second attempt i used aluminum channels with diffusers and the tape stuck wonderfully then.

View Ross Leidy's profile

Ross Leidy

224 posts in 2952 days

#8 posted 12-28-2019 08:05 PM

Nice job on the lighting, Mads. I could stare at your wall of tools for hours. :)

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5063 days

#9 posted 12-28-2019 08:14 PM


Several months ago, I replaced ALL light bulbs with LED lights…
As a result, it brought my usage down from being in Level 2 into Level 1 saving me good $$$ making them EASY to pay for themselves quicker than I thought it would be.

If you can, replace ALL Lights with LEDs.

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


6526 posts in 1831 days

#10 posted 12-29-2019 11:48 AM

Not only does it make light work mafe... it’s totally illuminating. Can never have enough light… unless you’re talking about beer.

Next step is to introduce voice activation… must admit I’ve gone troppo in ordering around someone/thing rather than vice versa… However, you’ll need to up your hot chilly diet to voice activate those candles.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View mafe's profile


12928 posts in 4099 days

#11 posted 01-09-2020 11:05 PM

Hi guys (why is it only guys btw…),
Dave, Than you. I find light a balance, this because for me it’s not just work light, but also a atmosphere I am looking for. If I were only to make work light, for short stays, I would give it a lot of lux and colder light, spread all over the celling, so there would be no shadows. But personally I love warm light and low light, the cave, so I try to keep the work light on the surfaces where it’s needed and then low warm light for the rest. The new LED here, will only be on, when I work on the bench.
I’ll cross my fingers you can soon get on with the shop.
Madmark2, (I love that you are nr 2 – smiles). Yes it’s amazing how much light we can get with little consumption now.
madts, it was why I did it also… laughs. I also need new glasses soon – what’s next? Thanks.
stefang, big laugh, that it helps (sometimes). Thank you for those nice words.
BlueRidgeDog, that sounds like an awful lot of light! Woohhooo, don’t look up! Smiles. Laugh, yes I have to take the table saw into the kitchen, when working on longer pieces, because the room where it is normally is so small. My workshop is a old shop, so it have a front room, a bathroom with shower, a kitchen and a back room. I’m a lucky guy, it’s kind of a small apartment in it’s own.
lew, We might get older, but as with old wine we get deeper and better. Smiles. I can see also the Makita are taking over the market here in Europe, Festool for the spenders and Makita for the money makes. Dewalt are almost dead, the quality became worse and worse, until people stopped trusting them I guess. Thank you for the nice words.
sansoo22, I just saw the 3M had already gone lose at the ends, so I’m happy for my choice also. Smiles.
Ross Leidy, thank you. You took light to a higher level your self. ;-) I do sit and stare at that wall for hours, laughs. It’s really calming and meditative.
Joe, Thank you. I think I have changed all to LED, in fact years ago, there might be a old halogen spot, but think they are all changed also, yes amazing how fast they will be paied by the savings, but also a wonderful thing for our planet.
LittleBlackDuck, or whiskey, or tobacco, or women, or wood, or tools… I have a remote control on all the light in the shop, so I only have to press that when leaving. Smiles.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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