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While my kids (and wife) are fans of the IKEA, I remain non-committed to the Swedish meatball and presswood furniture empire.

But today a little part of me died. I fell in love with an IKEA product.

The JANSJÖ is a gooseneck LED lamp that is perfect – perfect – for bench work. It costs $10 (made in China). It works brilliantly (pun intended). And is much less bulky than the Luxo swing-arm lamp on my current bench.

Heavy sigh.

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking in Washington state has these little buggers for the instructors and the students. They are – by far – the best bench lamp I’ve encountered. When I return home, I’m going to buy three.


Laroy is Spinning in His Grave
OK, here is a dovetail trick I’ve been too ashamed to mention until now. Maybe it’s the attendant beer that is making me spill my guts.

When I cut my tails, I always check them with a square to ensure the walls of the tails are 90° to the face of the board. If they aren’t square, I need to fix them.

I used to do this with a chisel. Now I do it with the Starrett square itself.

Yup. I turned a burr on the corner of my 6” Starrett square and use that edge to scrape the walls of my tails dead square.

Yes, I am going to hell on the express train that has Laroy Starrett as its conductor. But I don’t care. It works. The square’s blade is hard and holds that burr for a long time. Yes, I’m sure I’ll ruin the blade in the end. But all I want is tight joints – steel be dammed.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 27 comments
  • tman02

    These IKEA lamps are great but what makes them even better is replacing the base that comes on them with a magnetic base; this makes them even more useful.

    I belong to a woodturners club and one of our members showed us this idea.

    He went to Harbor Freight and purchased what they list as “Magnetic Decor Hooks” (they come two in a package). You have to drill out the clips that are on them (and the rivet), then drill out the hole to accommodate the threaded stud in the lamps (the gripe here is since they are magnetic the metal chips stick onto the magnet so you have to spend some time picking them off).

    You also have to add a wooden “spacer” on top of these magnetic bases to make them the same thickness as the bases that come with the lamps. But once you are done you can stick these lamps to any metal surface (like all around your lathe, drill press, etc.).

  • Elmer

    I find it difficult to believe that you defaced a Starrett square. One of the sacred icons of measurement .and layout.

  • Stephenw

    Some of the furniture at IKEA is solid wood.

    My workbench top is made from an IKEA hardwood countertop.

  • Gloves1

    I too love the JANSJÖ is a gooseneck LED lamp. I have one Mounted on my 1934 Delta band saw (less base) and plan on picking up more for my drill press, small lathe … The work great for small task lighting.

  • horn man

    IMAKEA, YOURAKEA, I ditched the factory base on my lamp and mounted it to a home made wooden bench dog. It doesn’t get knocked off that way. Dittos on the improvement for 50+ eyes. My only complaint is I wish it were a bluer color temperature.

  • bloodsweatsawdust

    The Schwarz effect was must be in full force. Unfortunately, you can’t order them online (store pickup only). However, I found a listing on Amazon and they only had one left in stock. It arrived yesterday!

  • kpinvt

    I have the clip on version of this light and also bought a USB powered one for two bucks. The clip on is a really handy light, I haven’t yet found the USB version to be as useful though it works good to illuminate the unlit keyboard on my Chrome craptop.

    What do you do for narrower tails? OK, I just figured it out, you don’t cut tails that are closer than one inch apart.

  • Albert Rasch

    Nice lights – especially for tired older eyes. I know that when I passed the fifth decade a couple of years ago, my eyes decided that they just weren’t going to cooperate with me anymore. I have found that better lighting, and the addition of proper prescription glasses. It makes a substantial difference, with the lighting being most important.

    On the combination square thing, you could get a strip of O1 cut to and grooved to the same dimension as the ruler and harden it if you didn’t want to deface the original ruler.Or, you could just go get another ruler for about a quarter of the price of the custom made O1 scraper.
    just saying…

    Albert A Rasch

  • Eric R

    Two sacrilegious things in one post?!
    Express train to hell, on greased rails !

    (I’m joining you. Those lights look pretty useful….)

  • dovetailer

    I discovered these a couple’a years ago and promptly bought 6 of them – the versions with the clips instead of the stands. I’ve got one of them tempopermanently attached to my PC router for additional kick-butt router lighting.

  • apbeelen

    With all due respect Mr. Schwarz, your tips are clever, but IKEA? That makes me sick. I’m go to go read a book by Saint Roy until I’m able to forget about this whole IKEA incident, then I’ll come back to read your next, and hopefully less perverse post.

  • muthrie

    Sweet trick.

    How is the lamp base sticking to the workbench. I have a Rockler light like this with a magnetic base (way more expensive) and I use an old card scraper and a clamp to hold it to the bench so I don’t know it over.

  • ElliottH

    Hear in Switzerland you can get the same one with a clip instead of a base, I like it like this so that it doesn’t take any space on my bench top. They really are nice little lamps.

  • jamescull

    I think it’s Laroy Starrett. I’ll have to check out these lamps.

  • Window Guy

    Hmmmm next time I go there for Dinner ( Swedish Meatballs and that Goosenberry whatever ) I will have to pick up a couple for my new bench, great tip. But I am not sure if I will abuse my 6″ Starrett though LOL.


  • xMike

    Hummmmm.. could this be part of your fiendish plot to dominate the entire tri-state area? It looks suspiciously like a Dovetail-inator!!!! Now where’s that self-destruct button…

  • Stroland

    Those little lamps work great for turners also. Carvers are probably too sophisticated though.

  • bloodsweatsawdust

    I’ve been looking for a good adjustable lamp for quite some time. Thanks a lot for this. I may just go buy 3, myself. I’m currently using one of those metal lamps that change intensity when you touch the base. I can’t count the times that I’ve accidentally brushed the lamp and turned it off.

  • robert

    Could have swore that I read this exact post somewhere else:

  • TrevorML

    A bugger virtually ALL international stores in Oz gouge the locals… same lamp here is $19.95… but at least still sort of reasonable… the clamp version is pretty cool too…mmmm… may have to convince the little lady (ha ha ha ha… as if that is needed) that we need to make a trip to IKEA 🙂

    thanks for a brilliant blog… my first call each day

  • JMAW Works

    Perhaps you could sleep easier with a nicely made clamp that holds a small portion of card scraper perp to the face. I bet Mr. Lee could have a prototype in no time, and preorders in even less. Great post even if you have outed yourself as an IKEA lover (they have many nice things…) and a tool hater at the same time!

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