Shop-Rigged Task Lighting

Ideas for task lighting that is there when you need it, out of the way when you don't. August 21, 2006

I do lots of close work at the bench and need a good lighting solution. The ideal solution would be a ceiling-mounted fluorescent light on an adjustable arm that I could pull down, adjust to proper angle, and lift out of the way when I don't need it, just like the dentist does. All well and good, except that nobody makes this thing as far as I can tell. Tried Luxo, Dazor, a specialty lighting retailer, checked E-bay. Luxo apparently made this a long time ago, but not anymore. The only products even close to what I need are made for the medical industry, which means they are prohibitively expensive. Any ideas? Am I the only one who wants this?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor F:
Yes, I want it too, but I can't afford it either. I have found about five of those adjustable lamps with the spring loaded folding and unfolding design and the table clamp base at garage sales, Goodwill, etc. I discard the clamping base and there is a 1/2" diameter bottom shaft on the lamp. I bore 1/2" diameter holes in several places on benches all around the shop and when I can't see well enough to do a certain task, I put one of the lamps in a convenient hole in the bench and adjust it to where I have good light on the subject. It works well enough and is a must for me when grinding chisels, etc.

From contributor E:
Why not use a desk lamp? Even use the above idea about taking off the base if need be, but I don't see a reason except space.

From the original questioner:
Yes, a desk lamp is an obvious solution, but it's in the way too often. I want a light that's there only when I really need it there.

From contributor D:
My suggestion is a DIY solution that might work for you. My idea stems from the lights I used to light my shop. I have fancy fluorescent lights that came from an office remodel (total overkill on beauty, incredibly cheap). Each 8' and each 4' unit is suspended by two SS wires. To adjust the height, the wire is pulled through a small cylinder that locks the wire. It was incredibly easy to change the height after I had installed them (I had hung them about 12" too low - they got in my way as I moved wood around). My suggestion is that you rig up a dual pulley system with a counterweight. Infinite adjustments, any range, etc. Or get lucky on E-Bay and find a dentist light or a hospital OR light. Or experiment mounting an articulated arm desk lamp on the ceiling.

From contributor T:
You might try a highbay lite with a 175w hid bulb. They are designed for ceilings above 25 ft, but when used at low heights, they are extremely bright.