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Decent lighting is one of the fundamentals in any workshop, regardless of what goes on in it, as without sufficient illumination, nothing much of any significance is likely to happen.

Many people rely on an element of natural daylight, but that has its disadvantages as windows mean that any opportune thief intent on lifting your valuable power and other tools may have a clear line of sight (unless suitable precautions are taken). Other workshops may be, for example, located in an industrial unit (or old warehouse, as I was) where the only natural daylight is admitted via a large roller door. In such cases, there has to be a much greater reliance on artificial light.

In my small ‘shop, I use both natural daylight from large windows (but they do have obscured glass) as well as several sets of twin 5’ fluorescent tubes which are great by the time I’ve damped out all the humming, buzzing and other assorted racket from the cabling inside. There’s also a 4’ one directly over the bench to provide some general overhead lighting, but it’s not nearly sufficient.

Naturally enough, there’s an argument for placing the bench directly underneath a window and when I first set up the ‘shop some years ago, this is what I did. However, I found that in strong sunlight there was so much reflected glare bouncing off the bench surface I almost needed to wear dark snow goggles, which is not really conducive to practical activities.

The bench was then moved to a wall without a window but then I found it was too dark so the next step was to install a couple of spring loaded, clip-on 60W spot lights over the top which served quite well for some years.

60W spot lights
60W spot lights

These improved the situation somewhat but weren’t ideal as they couldn’t be moved easily, weren’t very powerful and thus had limited range. They were also hot!

Something better was needed.

Looking through the range available there are some very tempting options, most of which would be suitable to enhance the light over the bench. The would-be purchaser is really spoilt for choice as there are quite a few different sorts available, from a selection of Stayput lamps with a flexible shaft, some with jointed cantilever action arms, a long strip light or even perhaps one with a built-in magnifier.

Over the course of a couple of evenings and after a considerable amount of prolonged procrastination comparing all the different options, I eventually opted for a pair of the Axminster LED Clearview worklights each with an impressive array of 6 x 2W LEDs and a 40,000 hour service life.

Lights on over the bench
Lights on over the bench

Excellent though these lamps are, they’re designed to be anchored in one spot using either a mounting bracket, mounting clamp or large magnet as any shift in the centre of gravity will instantly cause them to topple, but as you’ll see from the picture, mine don’t!

Lamps extended
Lamps extended

Delving into the offcuts bin, I used some oddments of mahogany to make a couple of mounts to fit into the well and these were made level with the bench top.

Mounting blocks
Mounting blocks

Using a pair of 8mm coach bolts, washers and nyloc nuts, I then made a pair of swivelling pads onto which the lamps were screwed. The really cunning part is that the blocks will slide along the bottom of the well, but at the same time the lamps are prevented from tippage by the small rail screwed to the back of the tool holder. This means that the lamps can be positioned very close to the bench surface and even better, there’s no heat given off by the LEDs.

The only additional thing which you’ll need close to hand is a pair of 13mm combination spanners to adjust the tension on the cantilever arms.

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