Lighting your sawmill
Providing good light for your work on dark days and late nights. February 19, 2002
How do you light your mills when it's dark out? Do you have affixed lights or overhead lighting? How do you find the affects of shadows on your work?
I have two Mobile Dimension Sawmills. One is a portable that is outside most of the time. The other is set up on a trailer in a building that is 20' wide by 50' long, with a 30' opening on one side and a 10' opening at each end. I use Mercury Vapor lighting inside and outside of my building. I use one at each end of the building and one on each side in the middle of the building. The opening of the door is 18' high, so the lights are located at that height. As far as the shadows on the working area, I have installed spotlights at the working end of the mill that helps eliminates these.
M-V lighting works best if at least 20' from the surface being viewed. Check with your electric company and they will have an office for business customers that will give you excellent advice.
Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor
I just put up 300 watt flood lights. One on the right, one on the left and one at the beginning. It is working great.
We were completing our 20’x40’ sawshed when we did a custom-sawing job for a young couple up the road. He happened to be an electrician and seeing that I was about ready to put lights in my sawshed, gave me four fixtures out of an old gymnasium he was updating with new lights. The lights use 200-watt bulbs and, with the white inside of the metal roofing, really flood the area with light. We’ve since added roof extensions on each end and added floodlights under each. Also, above each gable are flood lamps.
You will of course need to see your logs, lumber, and slabs, but I find these three areas need unobstructed light the most for accurate sawing: scale or setworks, log stops and dogs, blade.
Go to a cut-rate store and buy 15 plastic switch boxes - 18 cu inch with nails through the boxes. Also buy 15 receptacles. Now buy 250 feet of 14/2 wire. Nail the boxes every 24 inches over the length of your mill on a 2x4 with the face down. Wire a string of receptacles. Now go buy 15 socket adapters and 15 cheap 100 watt light bulbs.
I have used portable halogen lamps on occasion. The higher the better. Get them out of your sight range. One ten feet in front of the mill, one facing the mill on the log side and one on the other end of the mill. This eliminates the shadows. All of them 10 feet or more off the ground.
I do a lot of mobile sawing and mounted lights to my mill. My WM came wired for a laser light so I just plugged in some small halogen fog lamps and a license plate light for the scale. The light on the control panel cast a shadow from the blade on the log where it will cut. Works well and at home I have 3 300 watt halogen lights mounted on the drying shed that lights up the yard. Will use them in the new saw house when done.