Super Nova Magnetic Lathe Lamp
Three LEDs and a 30″ flexible neck deliver durable, excellent task lighting.
by Rob Porcaro
Good lighting can make a big difference in the quality of your woodworking, especially hand-tool work. Without it, there is little hope of accurately sawing to a layout line. It is also key in evaluating a surface finish and countless other tasks in the shop. So it’s a shame to see an elaborately equipped shop with nothing more than fluorescent ceiling lights illuminating the workbench.
The Super Nova lamp from WoodTurners Wonders delivers big time on all the key requirements for excellent task lighting. It was developed by turner and entrepreneur Ken Rizza for use with a lathe, but this flexible light is just as useful for general woodworking.
First, you need intensity – lots of lumens shining in the desired direction. The three LEDs in the lamp head together use just nine watts of power to generate an impressive 870 lumens, exceeding budget lamps by many times. But you needn’t worry about it overheating – the lamp head gets only a little warm, not hot to the touch, as it silently produces a pleasing, white light.
The LEDs are rated for 50,000 hours of life – equivalent to eight hours per day, every day for more than 17 years.
But all that light will do little good if the distance and angle of the source aren’t readily adjustable to create the contrast and shadows, without reflective glare, that allow you to see well. Moreover, the illumination on a surface decreases rapidly as the source is placed farther away.
The Super Nova’s 30″ flexible stainless steel neck is covered with a black, non-reflective shroud and holds its adjustment in any position. The light can be set to the exact location and angle you desire and it will stay put. And unlike with weaker lamps, you don’t have to place this one so close to the workpiece that it requires constant readjustment as the work progresses, such as when sawing a row of dovetails.
Everything about the build of this lamp is heavy-duty. The heavy rectangular base houses a switchable magnet that holds with a whopping 286 pounds of force. (Look at the picture above of the base holding unyieldingly to even the 2mm sheet steel of my band saw cover, while the fully extended neck doesn’t sag a bit!) The base is also large enough to easily accommodate a clamp to secure it to a wooden surface.
The lamp is equipped with a generous 9′ cord, ending with the obligatory adapter, but at least this one is small and light. A minor complaint is that I wish the switch button was placed on the back of the lamp’s head – I tended to switch the light off when grabbing the head to adjust it, though I have adapted my habits.
At $159.95, this lamp is not inexpensive, but a good light is one of the most important tools in the shop. I’ve been frustrated over the years by several cheaper but “good” models – this is by far the best task lamp I have ever used or seen. I haven’t had it long enough to attest to its durability, but the Super Nova certainly seems sturdy and carries a two-year warranty. I think it’s worth the money.
From the October 2016 issue.