I would estimate that I am doing 85-90% of my work with hand tools these days. Because of that I am constantly looking for better lighting so I can truly see my work. Lately I haven’t even been turning on my over head fluorescent lights instead favoring to turn on the incandescent work light right over the bench. I point the light at the white ceiling and work with only the reflected light. Sometimes, I’ll turn the bulb right on the work for a spotlight effect. It is really amazing how little light you need to woodwork, and I can’t help but think of my forefathers in the cabinet shops working in the waning light of day.
I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is something very calming about working in a semi dark shop. It feels more intimate and just feels wrong to be making a lot of noise like I might wake up someone so it seems that this low lighting actually lends itself to hand work. The weather is still a bit too cold for me to open my garage door and the two windows I do have shed some natural light on things but not quite enough; hence the incandescent task lights.
All of this preamble leads up to an experience from this weekend. I was working in my shop most of the day on my Wood Whisperer Guild build table with only this one light on over the bench. I continued to work until just before the sun went down when I took a break to walk the dog. That led to dinner and a few other things in the house and I was not able to get back down to the shop until it was fully dark outside. As I walked through the door into the shop I was greeted by this sight:
Behold my shrine to hand tool woodworking! How can you not be inspired to produce your best work when confronted with this setting!