Workbench Light Recommendation

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Forum topic by Ben posted 11-30-2018 12:59 PM 1396 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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482 posts in 3739 days

11-30-2018 12:59 PM

I currently have a vintage articulating arm light mounted to the wall at the face vise end of my bench. I can pull it close to the vise but it’s really inadequate and there is always a shadow somewhere. I’ve realized it’s effecting my work significantly for things like dovetails and need a better solution.
What do you all use?
Perhaps two lights? A light on the floor?
Appreciate any suggestions.

10 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10861 posts in 2368 days

#1 posted 11-30-2018 01:28 PM

A hella bright light above the end vise and and articulated arm light as well with a 100w led lamp.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1772 posts in 3731 days

#2 posted 11-30-2018 01:36 PM

6000k LEDs are amazing

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View MPython's profile


307 posts in 694 days

#3 posted 12-01-2018 03:43 PM

I have two work lights on my bench. One is an articulating arm lamp that fits mounts in any 3/4”dog hole courtesy of a 3/4” lamp bushing from Lee Valley (,41637). It’s the one on the left in the photo below. The other one is a gooseneck LED task light (on there right in the photo) that is attached to the bench top with a large machine screw into a Veritas bench anchor, also sold by Lee Valley (,41637). Both work lights can be moved to any convenient dog hole to provide light where I need it. I use the articulating arm lamp the most and user the LED lamp for focused, intense light or to get rid of stubborn shadows.
Knight[/url], on Flickr


View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6295 posts in 3291 days

#4 posted 12-02-2018 04:51 PM

I have 12 volt power supply on 3 sides of the shop. Bought these 30 watt LED fog lamps for a Jeep and put a switch on top. Made several of these swing arm lamps.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View clin's profile


1121 posts in 1878 days

#5 posted 12-02-2018 06:53 PM

To avoid shadows, you need light coming from many directions. In my shop I have rows of fluorescent ceiling lights. I also have bright white walls and cabinets to bounce light around. Even a lighter color floor makes a difference.

I have to get my hand quite close to a surface to cast a noticeable shadow pretty much throughout the shop. Though I have some worktop space under some wall cabinets (just like a kitchen countertop), and also have under cabinet lighting there.

There’s really no such thing as too much light in a shop. Something I think a lot of people, especially younger ones, don’t appreciate is that the more the light, the better your eyes focus. Again, young people don’t notice this much because their eyes still focus well, but as we get older focusing becomes harder and harder. The brighter the light, the smaller the pupil and the closer our eyes become to a pinhole lens. So the eye itself doesn’t have to work as hard to focus.

So it isn’t just a matter of seeing your work, it’s seeing it in sharper focus. And what a 30-year-old may think of as too much light maybe nowhere near what a 50-year-old needs. And it only gets worse the older we get.

My shop has an almost operating room quality to the amount of light. And I love it.

-- Clin

View LesB's profile


2620 posts in 4325 days

#6 posted 12-02-2018 06:54 PM

48” LED shop lights sell for as little as $20. They put out tons of light and are usually in the 4000 to 5000 kelvin so they are about as bright as sun light.

-- Les B, Oregon

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2871 days

#7 posted 12-02-2018 08:19 PM

I use 4ft led shoplights 3800 lumens each. About $50 each. Work very well. Calculates to 28 lumens/sq ft. Color is ~ 4500 K. I use several aluminum bell clamp lights to create spot and raking light as needed.

View MikeDildayNoSpam's profile


285 posts in 1341 days

#8 posted 12-03-2018 03:50 AM

I have 15 of these in my 18X22 shop. Used an online calculator to determine how many lights I needed to illuminate properly. I believe it was around 100 lumens/sf for a shop.

-- Michael Dilday, Suffolk, Va.

View clin's profile


1121 posts in 1878 days

#9 posted 12-04-2018 01:18 AM

I use 4ft led shoplights 3800 lumens each. About $50 each. Work very well. Calculates to 28 lumens/sq ft. Color is ~ 4500 K. I use several aluminum bell clamp lights to create spot and raking light as needed.

- OSU55

I’d feel blind in your shop. Though I noted you also use task lighting. I have about 150 lumens/sq-ft calculated based on the lights and square footage (8 fixtures at 5,600 lumens each for about 300 sq-ft). No doubt it is somewhat lower on the working surfaces.

Multiply lumens/sq-ft by 10.752 to get lux (lumens/sq meter).

28 lumens/sq-ft = 300 lux
150 lumens/sq-ft = 1,600 lux.

Referencing the guide linked below, 300 lux is in the range of “easy office work”
1,600 is in the range of “Detailed drawing work, Very detailed mechanical work”.

While these differences look huge, keep in mind direct sunlight is 10,000 lumens/sq-ft (107,520 lux). The human eye has a wonderful ability to adapt to changes in light level.

-- Clin

View Bill_Steele's profile


730 posts in 2614 days

#10 posted 12-04-2018 03:38 PM

I have some shop lights and I also use a headlamp to supplement when needed. I like the headlamps (like this) from Zebralight that use the 18650 batteries.

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