Low angle light

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Forum topic by DaveV posted 02-06-2018 04:54 AM 626 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1918 days

02-06-2018 04:54 AM

I see that it is often recommended that a low angled light be used to inspect a wood surface before finishing it. But no one ever says what angle should be used. Anyone have recommendations?


Dave VAn Ess

5 replies so far

View Rich's profile


5146 posts in 1197 days

#1 posted 02-06-2018 05:35 AM

Hard to be specific about it. Low enough to get a clean reflection off the surface. You’ll know when you get it right.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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13019 posts in 2988 days

#2 posted 02-06-2018 07:08 AM

Kidding aside, the low angle is to produce shadows in the imperfections making them easier to see. A handheld light is easiest since you can change the angle up and down and left and right to get the best view depending on ambient light.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7517 posts in 3976 days

#3 posted 02-06-2018 08:02 AM

You can also use trace coatings as shown by Charles Neil’s video.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Breeze73's profile


102 posts in 1289 days

#4 posted 02-06-2018 09:33 AM

This is typically called a Raking Light. If you have a workbench, you can fabricate an adjustable arm worklamp to fit the dog holes on your bench. This works very well, and it also helps to have the direct light available when doing fine chisel work too. Here is a method to convert a standard base lamp to a 3/4” dog hole.

-- Breeze

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2507 posts in 2598 days

#5 posted 02-06-2018 01:24 PM

Get a flashlight and play around holding it across a surface from you, at various angles. The glossier a surface is the better it works. For a sanded surface try it dry then wet it down with ms.

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