Jewelers Bench Light

Light is important. I guess that is a bit of an obvious statement. But you can imagine when you are working with potentially very small components that it’s rather nice to be able to see what you are doing. That aside, there are so many different ways to achieve that result. A simple desk lamp that you move around on your bench can give you enough light to be able to see what you are doing, but as with so many other things, light isn’t just light.

The light source, how it spreads the light and of course the color of the light are very important aspects to consider.

You can very broadly classify the spread or the shape of the light into a couple of base categories:

  • Direct spotlight
  • Direct diffused light
  • Indirect light (or bounced off another surface)

As for the color of the light.. .well, that is a science in itself. You will know if you have studied any form of photography that light can totally change the color and shape of an object.

There is a great deal of information about the subject so I’ll spare you from my attempt to sound knowledgeable by regurgitating existing articles. But check it out on Wikipedia, it’s a fascinating read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature

Suffice to say in this context that there are 4 main types of light sources to consider:

Incandescent light bulb
These old-fashioned lights give you a slightly orange-tinted light. That’s really all there is to say about them!

Energy saving light bulbs
You can more or less get the new light bulbs in any color from cool daylight (i.e. very blue tint) to very warm which will give you an orange light closer to the color of light you see at sunset.

Fluorescent light
Normal fluorescent light quite often gives you a blue-green tint, but among the many specialty work-lights out there you can get what is called daylight tubes that will give you light that simulates the color of midday daylight.

LED
These days LED light is becoming more and more widespread. Again, these types of light come in many different color temperatures from cold to warm.

As mentioned, what sort of light you will need depends on what you are doing. If you are planning on working with gem stones, especially diamonds, a daylight colored light is imperative to be able to asses and grade the stone. On the other hand, if you work with wire work, any light will probably do as long as you can see what you are doing.

What I have found is that direct spotlight can sometimes be a bit hard to work with in that it creates relatively harsh shadows. Unless of course you have the light coming from the perfect angle which is hard to do when you move a work piece around or you bounce the light off another surface. You will find yourself moving around to get the best light possible as opposed to moving to get in the best working position.

The bounced light works a little better in that bouncing the light will soften up the shadows and it will diffuse the light source so the work piece gets lit up from different directions. An easy way to bounce light is to work on either a simple white piece of paper or a piece of aluminum foil.

When choosing the light for my bench I went for the imitation option, i.e. I did some image searches for “Jewelers Workbench”, ”jewelry Workshop light”, “jewelers lamps” etc. that gave me a large number of different pictures of what other people were using. I noticed that the Dazor lights appeared on more images than any other workshop light so I checked out the site and concluded that although being 100% what I wanted, they were not readily available in Australia. And, of course, they were outrageously expensive! What to do?

Dazor Jewelers worklight

This is where Ebay came into the picture. I found that although still not cheap, I could get a more reasonable deal going for an old secondhand model. You can see the trend here again: I have no problems going for old tools and equipment as long as they’re of really good quality. It is no secret that workmanship and attention to detail was significantly better in the past.

The only trouble with buying an Ebay model was it ran on 110v as opposed to the 230v we use in Australia. Well, I gathered that it would not be the last US powered item I would ever buy for the simple reason that all jewelry-related items in Australia have a 200% markup compared to the exact same item bought in the US and that is despite the fact that we are closer to many of the Asian countries where everything gets made these days. Go figure. Anyhow, the solution was to invest in a 110V-230V transformer. See details on the Power page.

250V to 110V transformer

In the end, even when adding up the cost of the secondhand lamp, the shipping and the transformer, I got a cheaper deal than getting a new lamp through a shop locally.

In addition to my bench work light I needed some light over the polishing motor and the solder station.

Jewelers Buff light 2If your workshop is set up in such a way that all the crucial machines and solder stations are in close proximity to the main bench you could potentially just swing your work lamp around to cover other areas. In my case I couldn’t get enough light with that approach so I ended up getting a small spotlight that I mounted at the end of the extension table where my polishing motor lives.

For the Solder station I actually resolved to build a small but very effective custom “range hood” with fume extraction and an inbuilt low profile fluorescent tube. That setup gave me sufficient artificial light to be able to work regardless of the outside conditions.

Jewelry Solder station  Solder station light

The custom-built solder station range hood the built-in light is a small fluorescent tube

So to finish off, when you consider what you need in the way of light sources for your work area, start by having an overall well-lit room, then choose a good quality work lamp that can be moved around the center of your bench. I prefer one that takes fluorescent daylight tubes, preferably with different settings to give more or less light. Lastly, from a safety point of view, make sure all areas where you work with “dangerous” items (e.g. polishing motor, solder station, etc.) are well-lit.