A Long-overdue Workbench Modification
I’m in the midst of making my mom’s Christmas present*, and though I did the machine work at the “office” today, I decided to bring the surfaced and mortised pieces home (the hollow-chisel mortiser is my favorite power tool) and cut the tenons by hand. Yes, I could have cut them on the table saw, but these are offset tenons on small pieces, and I know I can cut them by hand more safely, accurately and quickly than I can get the table saw set, then reset for the second cheek.
So with my tenons marked out, I notched a V (following Robert Wearing’s tenoning advice in “The Essential Woodworker”) and secured the workpiece in my leg vise, leaned over, then couldn’t see my cutting-gauge line. My body, in sawing position, blocked the light. My shop, you see, is also my study. And the only illumination is from the ceiling light in the middle of the room and the glow from the computer screen.
Usually, I get around this problem one of two ways: 1) Do high-tolerance work during daylight hours; 2) Drag a reading lamp over from my bedroom and try not to trip over the base as I move around my bench.
Well, I’m tired of that…and I have only a few nights left in which to get this present done.
Last week (no doubt tired of hearing me complain about the problem), Christopher Schwarz loaned me the 1960s Luxo Magnification Light he used to use at work, already attached to a base with a dog. It’s been knocking around in my trunk since. Problem is, I haven’t yet needed any dog holes along the back of my benchtop. So there weren’t any to just drop it into and get to work.
So I set aside my tenon saw, and reached for my brace and a 3/4″ bit. A few minutes later, I had a hole. Seconds after that, I had light that I can direct wherever it’s needed – not to mention a magnifying glass!
Now, I’ve a 20th-century light on my 18th-century-style workbench in my 19th-century house.
* No, I’m not writing about my mom’s Christmas present until after I give it to her. Last year, she read about it on the blog beforehand.
After I posted the above, a couple folks asked to see how the mounting block works. I didn’t make this (I’m assuming Christopher did), but it appears there’s a screw coming out of the lamp base bottom (perhaps originally for a clamping mechanism?) and that is threaded into the block of wood. Then, on the bottom side of the block, a dowel was inserted, and whittled down to fit a 3/4 hole (obviously, if you have a 3/4 dowel, no whittling need occur). Pictures below.