Headband magnifiers


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Established Member
24 Aug 2008
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Essex/ Suffolk border
Does anyone use these sort of things?

In a recent thread on sharpening a very fine toothed saw I mentioned them as a way of seeing what you are doing. My mother uses an illuminated magnifying glass on a flexible stem for fine embroidery work, and I'm sure one of those would also work for sharpening.........but be less useful in a workshop. I can see lots of other potential uses for them in fixing small stuff, so if anyone has any experience of them it would be good to hear.
I (very occasionally these days) use an illuminated magnifier for cutting out fine abalone inlays (they are easy to break with a slip of the saw). I don't think I would bother for sharpening but have never considered it until this thread.
Works for me.
Makes saw sharpening much easier to see what's happening with small teeth.

I tried an illuminated magnifying headband, but couldn't get on with it. Bought a pair of 4 dioptre spectacles which I find much better. Doesn't solve the illumination problem, of course, but I have a couple of headband mounted lights.
My use is generally working on printed circuit boards with those tiny surface mount components.
John Brown":fry5jkcf said:
I tried an illuminated magnifying headband, but couldn't get on with it. Bought a pair of 4 dioptre spectacles which I find much better.
Same here pretty much. I bought cheap reading glasses and they worked much better for me for what I was doing at the time (miniatures) and although I did feel silly wearing two pairs of specs they didn't get in the way of brush handles and longer sculpting tools.

I now have three pairs of specs, in various strengths: for ultra-close work (3), bedtime reading (3.5) and closer work at the bench (1.5 I think).
I have a headband unit. Looks ridiculous, but works very well. It's not this model, but the same idea:.
I use an Optivisor for my jewellery work. Had it for 20+ years and no problems. Comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Easy to use over spectacles. I have separate lighting. Probably overkill for what you want and many cheaper clones available now.
I regularly use a headband magnifier for fine work on musical instruments, repairs of small objects and other detail. Note that these all enable you to focus more closely but they necessitate you putting your head closer to the work. No way round this with a single lens, as magnification = (distance from lens to object)/(distance from lens to eye). This is fine for delicate work when you need to be close anyway.

It is not so good if the work is on a machine, as you don't want to put your head too near spinning metal. So I do not use it on a lathe or miller except for setting up.

With a double lens (like a telescope or proper binoculars) you can also have a long working distance, such as dentists or surgeons use. Many of these are very expensive, but this one looks interesting at £30:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mike-Dental-Su ... 5335&psc=1

There are a few available at this sort of price, some with LED lights.

I haven't tried it, but am tempted.

I bought the one from Axminsters xmas offer. It works ok and looks pretty similar to the one from Amazon you linked to Mike.

I bought it for the magnification rather than the illumination. I found the 2 x magnification spot on for me, i.e. the subject is large enough whilst the distance from subject is adequate. I found I had to be too close to the subject to bring it into focus using anything >2 x mag.
Mike, if it's any help, I use one very similar to your link too (a non-illuminated version). It has 1.5, 2.0, and (I think) 3.0 X magnification lenses. I normally only use the 2.0X.

I don't use it for any machine work apart from VERY occasionally on my scroll saw (on really small cut jobs like small lettering, etc) but find it invaluable for all the sorts of work that Music Man has mentioned (I don't make/repair musical instruments, but as he says, just about anything needing work on very small/fine parts). I also find it especially good for marking out (off a glass "surface plate"). And just as MM says, very easy to adjust so that the lenses swing down easily over my (vari-focal) glasses.

Mine were "cheap & cheerful" but very useful nonetheless - especially if your eyes are "of a certain age". BTW, previously I had a single jewellers lens in a steel clip which clipped onto my glasses frame but though it does look daft to others, I find the headband type, having a lens for each eye, much more convenient n the clip on - wider field of view. Again though, just as MM says, you do need to bring your head down close to the job.

Personally, for the above described sort of job I wouldn't be without mine.

This is great stuff, fellas, thanks very much. A dozen answers and we've all got a pretty decent over-view of the subject. It's only a few years since I took my glasses out to the workshop for the first time, and now I think I'll invest in a pair of these. No more sharpening saws by braille!! :)

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