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Woodworking in Low Light

It has been raining a LOT lately.  Between tropical storms and hurricanes, it has been a lively few weeks.  In my neighborhood that means power outages.  Lengthy power outages.

The funny thing is these power failures actually make me smile.  Neanderthal that I am, I just keep right on working in my shop…assuming that I still have enough light to see what I’m doing.  Lately looming deadlines have kept me in the shop long past sunset each week day and into the wee hours of the morning on weekends.  I’m not complaining.  Shop time is a blessing but when the power goes out and it is too dark to even find my way out of the shop, fitting that dado or tenon is a bit tough.  When the power goes out, I can’t work despite my unplugged style.  Deadlines will have to wait.

So this past weekend, there I am hide glue on half my joints for a tough glue up and POOF! (I don’t know what the sound of power cutting out sounds like, just go with it)  My glue brush is still in my hand but I can’t see it.  The storm outside is raging and has blocked out all moonlight.

“Don’t I have a headlamp in the shop somewhere?” I think to myself.  If you haven’t found out for yourself, a headlamp can be a great tool for around the house projects like plumbing work under the kitchen sink.  Let’s be honest, it is a relic of my college days in Boulder, CO, rappelling in the dark.  Chicks dig that!

I fumble through the darkness, feeling with my toes for the sawbench that I know is somewhere off to my right poised to jump in front of me and send me headlong into my sharpening bench.  I reach the “junk” drawer in my shop and poke around until,


Woodworking by headlampOtherworldly blue glow springs forth from the LEDs in the headlamp momentarily blinding me whilst calming my beating heart.  Now I can finish this glue up properly, no need to panic.

Here is the truly geeky part.  Once I had my project (a Limbert 244 table for the Hand Tool School) in the clamps, I just kept right on working.  What else was I going to do, sit in the living room staring into a burning candle?  Bah, I have work to do.

Not 5 minutes later my wife comes into the shop with a flashlight and just breaks up with laughter as she catches me bent over a bench hook paring the mortise walls of a weather swollen panel gauge that will no longer slide aided only by my headlamp.

“You are such a loser!” she cries.

That’s ok.  I’m pretty sure that’s why she married me in the first place.

****I don’t recommend making a habit of working in such low light conditions. 

This has to be dangerous unplugged or not.****

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