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Thread: Mill Work Light Options

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Brampton, Ontario
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    Default Mill Work Light Options

    Hey guys,

    I was giving some thought to a new light for my mill, as the old light I had was always bugging me in one way or another.

    Some research shows people making ring lights that mount on the bottom of the head with the quill passing through the middle, but it seems to come with some drawbacks. The lights can't move, so if you're working with small end mills and no quill extension, they block the view of the work. The larger diameter a ring light you use, the more they block your view, but the smaller the ring, the more shadows you get when using large tools/cutters or long drills and chucks. Also when the quill is extended it blocks the light.

    Another option is a light on some kind of arm, but a single light source causes a shadow on the other side of the tool, and this blocks your ability to see scribe lines, etc. So now you need two of those, one on each side. getting cluttered, and obscuring your view.

    My current idea tries to make the best of both worlds. A curved aluminum bar with high power LEDs mounted on it is attached to the end of a microphone gooseneck, which are cheap ($10 CAD for 19" length) and hollow for wiring. The curved bar can have a 60-90 degree curve to it on a fairly large radius, offering a partial wraparound light source to reduce shadows on the front and sides of the work. It can be easily moved and adjusted for big/small/long/short tools. The bar is only 0.5" wide so it doesn't obscure the line of sight very much, and can easily be adjusted to clear your view. Wires run from the LEDs through the gooseneck to the mount point on the head of the mill, and off to a 12V wall adapter.

    Here's a quick drawing I did in Solidworks. I think it's worth a build as I have everything but the gooseneck on hand.



    What do you guys think? Anyone else had another way of solving the drawbacks of the ring lights / regular machine lamps?

  2. #2
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    Helsinki, Finland, Europe
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    I really like your curved strip idea, I think I'll have to stole it to try it out on my mill.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
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    OREGON
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    I like it too. Where did you get the light?

  4. #4
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    Dec 2015
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    Chilliwack, BC, Canada
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    That's a trick idea. But I'd want a set for each side so I'd have two sort of "half ring lights". That way it avoids being around the front and in my way. Plus I frequently look in from the sides which is why I'd like them mounted one on each side so things are well lit and there's little or no shadows.

    I actually have two of the Ikea Jansjo LED gooseneck lights on my own mill attached to a custom bracket at the rear of the upper unit. The heads are positioned roughly equally to the sides and up even with the bottom of the head. With these I get a nice bright work area and I can look down between the vise jaws really well.

    It's not as compact as your option would be though. And with your setup there's going to be less shadowing.... or at least the shadows would be neatly filled in by the other lights on the strip.

    So if I could BUY the lights setup like you show I'd likely "upgrade". But I'm not sure it's enough of an advance over the Jansjo lamps to have to build up the lights as you're showing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    102

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    I liked the idea of the ring light but none seemed readily available for my mill and they're kind of expensive. My mill is a dovetail square column with the typical square head. I bought one of those tape LED kits from amazon for around $12 that you can cut to length every 2" or so and lined the bottom perimeter of the head. The tape doesn't make sharp turns so it's 4 individual lengths with a short strip of speaker wire in between to turn the corner. The 12V adapter was good up to 240V so I took the wiring cover off the head-mounted electrical box and hard wired it to the mills main power, so now the lights are on whenever the mill is. The kits are 12'-16' if IIRC so I have a bunch left over. Maybe I'll make up something similar to what you've drawn. Either way, those tape LED kits are a great source for your parts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Brampton, Ontario
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    The light strip would have to be homemade. I have some 1W LEDs that are supposed to go on a star base, but I will try to figure out how to mount them without thermal adhesive, which I don't have. The curve rules out using a piece of plexi as a clamp unless I can find some in my pile thats flexible enough. I'll have to see. That would be a nice way to go.

    I like the idea of the LEDs on two sides, I find I'm always looking from a pretty wide side angle though so I'd be staring into the opposite side light a lot. Front lights will be a little more in the way but blinding me less. By making it thin and long it should help and not be like having a big lamp head in my face.





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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Deep in the Heart of Texas!
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    I bought two of the Ikea Jansjo LED gooseneck clip-on lights with the intension of using them on the mill but they're crap. Pure cheap junk from China. The light from them looks yellow. I doubt the color temperature is above 2400K. I could use two candles on the mill table and get about the same amount of light. I tried one on a bench grinder with disappointing results so I moved them both for use over the parts washer. Still junk. They might work for dark bedroom reading lights but for shop use, use candles instead.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCWKen View Post
    I bought two of the Ikea Jansjo LED gooseneck clip-on lights with the intension of using them on the mill but they're crap. Pure cheap junk from China. The light from them looks yellow. I doubt the color temperature is above 2400K. I could use two candles on the mill table and get about the same amount of light. I tried one on a bench grinder with disappointing results so I moved them both for use over the parts washer. Still junk. They might work for dark bedroom reading lights but for shop use, use candles instead.
    I hear you. Saw those at the store, got excited, turned it on, walked away. I've got single AA powered flashlights 10x brighter than that.

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  9. #9
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    for those 1W star based LEDs you don't need to worry about thermal grease. Just make sure the surface you're bolting it to is flat and use some actual grease if you want, that'll work just fine. Thermal junctions start becoming important in the 5-10W range.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattthemuppet View Post
    for those 1W star based LEDs you don't need to worry about thermal grease. Just make sure the surface you're bolting it to is flat and use some actual grease if you want, that'll work just fine. Thermal junctions start becoming important in the 5-10W range.
    They're actually the LED without stars, got a bag of them for a buck or two, no stars though. Mounting with epoxy would work if it can handle reasonably high temp. Another option is do the mount out of copper/brass sheet and solder the LEDs on.

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