Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

Bench Lighting 3

DSC07209Several other articles regarding bench lighting are contained in this blog. The first one is a florescent heavy base swing arm. The second is an LED bench mount swing arm. Both provide excellent bench level lighting for the work area. The LED lamp is my favorite as it is dimmable but both provide plenty of illumination.

Since either one provide an excellent level of lighting for task work, I thought I was state-of-the-art in bench lighting. Seeing the work was easier than ever. One piece of knowledge was still tucked away in a dark area of my memory banks. I call it level 3 lighting.

Any knowledgeable amateur photographer (such as myself) knows lighting is one of the basic factors that has to be understood and mastered for consistent high quality photography. One source of light (the sun) may get the job done outdoors, but multiple sources give far more “depth” to a subject, especially in a studio setting. Outdoors, surface reflections from other directions provide the depth.

The same thinking works at the jewelry bench or any close in detail work. What was missing in my work was the level three lighting. Room lighting and what I have called task lighting (bench lighting) are levels one and two. Bench lighting is a type of task lighting and often called that by lighting professionals. The level three is the additional side or oblique lighting. It is the most concentrated (focused) form of task lighting.

For me it is one of those things not appreciated until you experience it. As in photography, it adds a new depth to what is being seen or in this case, worked on. It’s a totally amazing and comfortable way to improve the quality of the work experience.

The lamp shown here is an affordable ($80 class) fixture. Very good quality. I have seen others targeted at the jewelry industry for nearly $200. This one is produced by a commercial sewing machine manufacturer and often sold for that use. The neck is sealed in rubber like material and quite stiff as it should be. It holds its adjustment. The LEDs are a great improvement over the hot incandescent lamps of (ahem…) yesteryear.

The lamp has two levels of illumination at 2 watts and 5 watts. There is a slightly cheaper single level version. Color is a bright white, a little “cooler” that the color from my LED bench lamp a good contrast that adds to the application. No color reference is provided for either. The LEDs are recessed in the head so the lighting is very spot focused (see picture). This lamp is designed for the level 3 application shown here. In my opinion it is not adequate as a primary light source. Except perhaps for reading in bed.

Some “user reports” have called this lamp dim and unusable. That’s true when it is being misapplied as a general task light. That kind of mistake is fueled by the manufactures own illustrations of use, so is understandable. The lamp is best for auxiliary oblique side illumination but can be used (or misused) any way an owner desires.

The manufacturer’s information states the base clamp can be removed and the base screwed directly to another surface (the bench top). That opens the wiring area, so care needs to be taken with the internal connections. There is a ground connection to the clamp that needs to be modified by a qualified electrician. I am qualified. I kept the clamp but turned it 180 degrees. Then created a “perch” mount from ¾” oak for the side of the bench. Yeah the edge bevel is a bit sloppy as I just hit it with the disk sander. My bad, but its’s functional and does the job. (OK… that’s lame….)

The third picture shows the area illuminated and how unsatisfactory that would be as a single source in this application.

I am not necessarily recommending this brand. Others crafts people can make their own determination. This one is completely satisfactory for me. Try level three lighting and you will never willingly work without it!

DSC07207 DSC07215
3/4" oak "perch" mount Illumination area

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