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Light on the workbench

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Kittyhawk

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My workshop developed piecemeal and in a very haphazard manner so have decided on a complete rebuild.
So I drew up the floor plan and made lots of little paper cut-outs of all the machinery that I could move about on the floor plan and arrived at what I thought to be a good layout. My workbench is 3m long and I had it positioned on an exterior wall under a window 2m long.
Then my brother saw the plan and didn't like the position of the bench because he says that I'd be looking against the light which is bad and ideally natural light should fall diagonally across the bench from behind. He reckons he's an expert in this stuff because he's an ophthalmic surgeon. I think he's full wind but I want to get the workshop right this time. Any opinions?
 

Jacob

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He's right. But diagonals take up space unless you have lots of room. If you are right handed best to have the light coming from the right, with your bench perpendicular to the window. Also means you can work on both sides.
 

Eric Roy

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In my view it depends on which way your window faces. I have a big window behind my bench and it really helps me see clearly what I am doing. BUT it faces north, so I am only getting indirect light rather than direct sunlight.
 

AES

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In my shop, which is the cellar of the house, my bench is under the only 2 windows in the cellar. The whole house faces almost due south, and to make matters worse, the ground outside the cellar wall slopes steeply away downhill (the house is built on the side of quite a steep slope). This means that when the sun shines, i.e. from early morning until late afternoon, the light falls almost directly into my eyes. That is at best most uncomfortable, and often almost completely blinding, to the extent that I have to cover at least one the 2 windows.

There is no way to change the layout in my shop, but in your case I'd say your brother is bang on - IF you can re-arrange so that the bench is behind you (though beware of casting your own shadow over the bench) or even better, so that the sunlight comes from either your L or R shoulder then I'd say that's the way to go.

HTH
 

Cabinetman

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Just like nearly everybody else I suppose I to put my bench under the window to get the best natural light, even though my bench is L-shaped and so working on the "other" bench with the light coming from my right I hardly ever do, it just seems natural not to do that and I gravitate towards the light even though it causes me to work in shadow half the time. What I think this proves is that the lighting over both benches isn’t good enough, which is what I’ve thought for a while. Ian
PS, age doesn’t help eyesight either lol, using my first pair of bifocals and they’re driving me nuts!
 

AES

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Just like nearly everybody else I suppose I to put my bench under the window to get the best natural light, even though my bench is L-shaped and so working on the "other" bench with the light coming from my right I hardly ever do, it just seems natural not to do that and I gravitate towards the light even though it causes me to work in shadow half the time. What I think this proves is that the lighting over both benches isn’t good enough, which is what I’ve thought for a while. Ian
PS, age doesn’t help eyesight either lol, using my first pair of bifocals and they’re driving me nuts!

Agreed! What I should perhaps have added to my own post above, I now have 3 lights over my workbench, as well as the natural light which I allow to seep around the window covers (above). Natural daylight is of course better than any electric light, (though LEDs are pretty good these day, better than flouro tubes now), but natural light is no good if it "blinds" you.

And yes, for me anyway, bifocals (actually varifocals for me) are also a big help, though if new to varifocals, I found a couple of days was needed to get "tuned in" (it's a question of changing the angle of your view just "so", to get your eyes looking through the appropriate part of the lens).
 

againstthegrain

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It also depends on what you are doing in your workshop. If you need to see fine detail it could be a problem, but for general work I have found that my bench under a south facing window is no problem. If you have other layout options it is something to bear in mind, and you might also want to think about how your working areas heat up in the sunlight... Just a thought.
 
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clogs

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AES
I'd be making or buying some Bamboo blinds...U know the slated things u can adjust the pitch....
said bamboo because its....wood.....
I work outside all the time in summer here and I hang an 8x4 sheet of ply from the fork lift for shade...or arrange work to be in the shade of a building......hahaha....
this year tho a new workshop is on it's way.....yipeeee....
 

Kittyhawk

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I think I will put the workbench under the window because it best utilises the space. I take the point about sunlight flooding through the window and causing mischief but thinking about it a bit more I don't think it will be a problem. The window is south facing and I live at latitude 36° south. This means that in summer time the sun's meridian will still be slightly to the north and well to the north in winter so direct sunlight will not be blasting through the glass. If anything there may be a need for some sort of additional lighting over the bench - perhaps flurescents?
 

AES

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I think I will put the workbench under the window because it best utilises the space. I take the point about sunlight flooding through the window and causing mischief but thinking about it a bit more I don't think it will be a problem. The window is south facing and I live at latitude 36° south. This means that in summer time the sun's meridian will still be slightly to the north and well to the north in winter so direct sunlight will not be blasting through the glass. If anything there may be a need for some sort of additional lighting over the bench - perhaps flurescents?
OK, good. But re your last point, I'd strongly recommend that you look at LEDs rather than fluoros as you suggest. Available in both spot light and flood light formats, PLUS tubes, I've found them to be excellent - choice of different colour temperatures, nice even spread of light, little in the way of shadowing, no flicker or start delay (compared to fluoros), virtually no heat, and even the bonus of being (apparently) cheaper to run and longer life. I really don't see a downside to LEDs apart from the initial purchase price (and here anyway, across the counter prices are reducing compared to a few years back).
 

Dynamite

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How about horizontal window blinds as you can alter the angle of the light coming in.

peronally, I don’t get enough daylight anyway so never a problem.

Kind Regards… Rob
 

Kittyhawk

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Wife got involved in the project - apparently my layout plan was rubbish. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with.
 

AES

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Well if yours is like mine, you may well be positively surprised. My SWMBO often comes up with ideas I hadn't even considered!
 

Kittyhawk

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Well if yours is like mine, you may well be positively surprised. My SWMBO often comes up with ideas I hadn't even considered!
This is true. I know from experience that something good will come out of it. She has already asked the pertinent questions - time spent on each machine during a project, space needed around it, regarding illumination is it for fine detailed work or the rough stuff... she has a flair for getting the best usage out of a given space so I value her input into the workshop revamp.
Going to investigate your suggestion on LEDs. My only experience is with the 12v ones that we had on the canal boat so will be interesting to see what's available for 240v.
 
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AES

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OK, good. Also suggest you have a paddle around in this Forum as recently there was a lot of input on LEDs for shop use, both general overall illumination, and focused for fine work.

In my own shop I have replaced a lot of flouro tubes with LED tubes - a 1 for 1 replacement where you just remove the existing flouro tube and it's starter and fit into the existing batten the new LED tube plus its special starter (both supplied in same pack) - cheap, quick, and v effective.

HTH
 

Richard_C

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Yes, I started a recent thread on LED tubes and have now fitted them after advice here - 2 x 5ft LED tubes each 7200 Lumen, magnificent and so much better than the fluorescent + spots they replaced. 2 mounted across garage/worshop approximately 1/3 and 2/3 along length so very few shadows. Maybe 4 smaller ones with same total output would have been even better for shadows but that would have involved messing with wiring. I still have an old desk lamp with a spot bulb mounted on a wall so it extends above the bench. The retail price of LED battens has come down in the last few years.

My bench is under a window and faces South but we have trees 15m away so sun in eyes rarely an issue Our dining room faces West and if we have guests it means someone faces the sun for evening meals and you don't really want to pull the curtains earlier rtghan you have to. I got a pair of roller blinds from Dunelm, others will do them and I'm sure there will be similar in NZ. White, called "daylight" designed as privacy blinds so they let most of the light through but diffuse it. If my bench did face into the sun, that's what I would use. Over time they would get dusty and scruffy in a wokshop but at about £10 each that's not a problem.

You do need more lumens as you get older and I am starting to struggle with fine gradations on steel rules and suchlike. I dismantled a very old desk lamp with a flexible shaft, about 14 inches tall, onto which I fitted a spring clamp. It gives me a 3rd hand for soldering and with a magnifying glass in the clamp helps with the fine measuring and marking stuff.

Most factories, drawing offices and suchlike were build with 'north lights' in the UK, so Kittyhawk's south facing windows in NZ might be perfect.

(I went to NZ for a holiday in 2018. Normally when I check into a hotel if they ask for room preferences I say high floor south facing please - I do like to see sunrise/sets - but there I had to remember to ask for North facing. You have to completely adjust your inbuilt navigation instincts. I was amazed how well the pilot executed the 1g barrel roll in an Airbus 350 as we crossed the equator - not a drop of wine was spilt. They have to do that every time so they can land right-way-up don't they?)
 

AES

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I must admit (rather shame-facedly) that when responding to Kittyhawk's original query I forget that he is "down there"! "Fool", AES.

But you're right, LEDs have made a huge positive difference in my shop.

P.S. A 350s are not stressed for full barrel rolls - only by keeping positive G on all the way over would you get away with it, and then no doubt the "What's it doing now?" (fly by wire flight controls system) would probably throw a hissy fit! ;)
 

SteveBartley

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Totally agree with Richard C above. LED every time over fluorescent’s. 5ft with high lumens, place just in from front edge of the bench, shadow free lighting.
 

Ttrees

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12 euros, so bout a tenner sterling in ikealand
Only recently seen a fella on the auzzie workbench forum stuck one on his Cosman bench.

TERTIAL Work lamp, light blue


Seems closer in size to the old style angle poises, compared to the yoke of a thing I got from the bay.
Likely the best thing to get one by until they found one of these.

SAM_4866.JPG
 
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