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Tips for Proper Lighting in your Workshop

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When laying out the arrangement of the machines and tools in your shop, pay special attention to lighting. In a well-lit shop, every work space and machine has ample lighting positioned so that shadows do not occur to the point that the woodworker's productivity is hindered or safety compromised.

To accomplish this, numerous types of lighting can be employed.

Overhead Lighting:

Most of the light in the workshop should come from overhead lighting. Whether choosing fluorescent, incandescent or even metal halide lights (in large buildings with high ceilings), the fixtures should be spread relatively evenly to provide consistent overall lighting throughout the entire shop. Each of these types of lighting has their advantages and disadvantages, and personal preference may also play a part in your decision.

Focused Lighting:

In some spaces, in addition to the overall lighting, it may be advantageous to place recessed flood or spot lights directly over some of your tools and workbenches. I like to have one flood light over my table saw and another over my miter saw. Be certain to position the recessed lights so that leaning slightly over your work won't cause shadows.

On-Tool Lights:

Some tools, such as a Drill Press, come pre-installed with small dedicated spotlights that provide clean, direct light on your work. Some woodworking suppliers sell small aftermarket spotlights that can be added onto these tools if they don't come pre-installed. While these are terrific for supplementary lighting, they shouldn't be used as the sole source of light on the work space.

Optimizing the Lighting in your Shop:

Probably the easiest way to help make your shop brighter and consistently well-lit is to paint the ceiling, walls and anything else that isn't nailed down white. The white walls will do a good job of reflecting light throughout the room. This one tip will make a huge difference in how light is diffused in the shop.
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