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See What You Saw

Step out of the shadows with these illuminating solutions.

By the time you reach the age of 40, you’ll need 50 percent more light to see as well as you did at 20. By age 70, you’ll need twice as much light as you did at 40. But, before you light up your shop like a Broadway stage, consider these strategies for improving task lighting in areas where you’re actually working.

Enlighten broader areas

Wall cabinets can cast shadows from overhead lights. Solution: under-cabinet fixtures that flood light over worksurfaces, above.  These lights come in both hard-wired and plug-in varieties. If power isn’t close, or you don’t want to fuss with wiring, use battery-powered LEDs. They can provide weeks or even months of bright illumination from one set of batteries.

For a truly budget-friendly option, don’t rule out the lowly, ever-affordable clamp-on flood lamp that you can quickly move from place to place, below.

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A spring-loaded clamp grips an edge to hold the light where it’s needed. A cool-burning CFL or LED keeps the shade cool to the touch.

Spotlight small areas

Sometimes you need a pool of light focused on a small area; for example, to help you see a cutline at the bandsaw, the center mark for a hole at the drill press, or a tool edge at the grinder. For these jobs, add an auxiliary light on or near the tool, below. To keep a cord out of the way, use a battery-operated LED model.

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Focus intense illumination into tight spots with a flexible LED. This one has a magnetic base as well as a clamp (no. 50449, rockler.com, 800-279-4441).

A magnifier with built-in LEDs, below (no. 57312, rockler.com, 800-279-4441), provides a clear view for close-up handwork and detailed inspections. And while it may not be the most stylish option, a headlamp goes wherever you do, bottom, putting light right where you look.

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Ready for your close-up? A shop-made bench dog (right) allows for positioning the magnifier in any doghole on your bench. Or secure the fixture to the edge of a benchtop, shelf, or tool with the provided clamp base (not shown).

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Free your hands. A pivoting multi-LED fixture with an elastic strap (find them at home centers and camping stores) can be adjusted from bright to super-bright.

By focusing additional light on the tasks at hand, you’ll create both a safer workshop and one that’s more pleasant to work in.

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