“[M]y eyes are not what they used to be,” wrote Chris Becksvoort after I requested whether or not he makes use of any form of eyesight enhancement for detailed work. And who over the age of 40 can disagree? I had 20/20 imaginative and prescient till my early 40s, after I discovered that I may now not take sharp eyesight without any consideration. While making a small dutchman patch for a current job, I noticed that probably the greatest issues I can do to enhance my woodworking talents on the age of 62 is to not purchase better instruments or add to my expertise, however to search out some simpler methods to boost my imaginative and prescient. It’s laborious to do positive work when you possibly can hardly see what you’re doing.

The matter of imaginative and prescient enhancement is indisputably necessary, but under-examined, not less than in woodworking publications. I’ve discovered that till I strive a product it’s unimaginable to know whether or not it’s going to work nicely or simply trigger complications—figurative complications prompted by disappointment or literal complications because of new sorts of eye pressure.

The fundamentals of better eyesight within the store

  • Prescription eyewear as wanted. I put on prescription glasses with progressive lenses. The magnification is insufficient for positive work (resembling that dutchman I used to be engaged on in June).
  • Natural mild. A big window along with my bench offers good pure mild on sunny days, however extra home windows could be better. Skylights could be the cherry on the cake.
  • Shop lighting. Even the very best home windows received’t present a lot assist with imaginative and prescient on overcast days, not to mention at evening. I changed most of my store’s fluorescent lights with LEDs a number of years in the past when the bulbs died; they’d all been put in on the similar time and died inside weeks of one another. I’ve one over the tablesaw and one over my bench, along with a number of others across the store. More could be better. For job-site work I take an LED images mild with this bulb on a stand; halogen is so sizzling and blindingly vibrant that I recognize the choice supplied by LEDs. But absolutely the BEST lighting I’ve ever loved was throughout a video shoot with David Thiel from Popular Woodworking; he got here with two or three 200-watt incandescent images bulbs on stands. Yes, they’re power hogs, being incandescent, however they supply such excellent illumination that it was nearly nearly as good as having my 20-year-old-self’s imaginative and prescient again. While I’m no lighting professional, I’m assured you may get a comparable end result with LEDs right this moment.
  • Magnifying lenses. Years in the past I purchased a cheap visor with a magnifying lens and a second lens that drops down for added magnification. It solely works nicely if I maintain my head completely nonetheless at simply the best distance from the work—not likely doable with woodworking. For what it’s value, the Magnivisor is compact, worn on the top, and made within the United States. Although it has only one 5-star assessment (and that’s from a number of years in the past), it’s the one I’m most likely going to purchase the following time I’ve to do some actually positive work. Moveable lighting is useful for work at particular machines and on the bench; you possibly can  learn Yoav Liberman’s article about a movable lamp with adjustable illumination here. For my half, if I stay lengthy sufficient, I’m going to spend money on the lamp that Laura Mays identified in her listing of suggestions under.

I do know my setup leaves a lot to be desired, so I requested a few woodworkers, an upholsterer, and a mind surgeon, all of whom do positive work, to share their tips. The following seem in alphabetical order by surname.

Chris Becksvoort, furnishings maker and Fine Woodworking contributing editor

“For 90% of my store work I handle alright with common bifocals. They get upgraded each two years. I’ve a few tips to compensate for diminishing imaginative and prescient:

“I like to make use of knife marks for structure work. For instance, for exact sawcuts, I make a deep knife scribe, and chisel a slant reduce on the waste aspect, which permits me to set my dovetail noticed towards that shoulder. That similar one-sided notch will also be pushed up towards a tooth of the tablesaw blade (clearly earlier than it’s turned on) to precisely register the supposed reduce.

“Lie-Nielsen used to promote the Magni Focuser (a cheaper model of a extra refined  glass optic sort utilized by jewelers) which comes with a number of interchangeable plastic lens inserts. I’ve three: 1.75x for 14-in. distance, 2x for 10-in. distance and a couple of.25x for 8-in. distance. With adjustable headband. Nice to have.

“Of course good lighting is essential. I have an LED magnifying articulated task light, which comes with a bushing that fits my 3/4-in. dog holes on my workbench. Essential when doing dovetails. My overhead lights are flush, 6 ft. apart,  laid out before I arranged everything in the shop. Consequently, light on the right side of the saw is perfect, while on the left there’s a slight shadow. ”

Rudy Everts, wooden carver and chair maker

Rudy makes use of an illuminated magnifier with an Anglepoise lamp for positive work.

Rudy depends on “lots of light”—a white fluorescent mild over his workbench, a highlight, and a magnifying lamp with which, he says, “you can make superhuman detail that makes people think ‘how the heck did you do that?’”

A detailed-up of the carving Rudy’s engaged on within the picture above.
A stick chair Rudy carved out of the department of linden wooden on which it seems to sit down. The department is about 1-3/four in. in diameter, and the chair simply 2 in. tall.

Steve Latta, furnishings maker, teacher, and Fine Woodworking contributing editor

Just a few of Steve’s inlay patterns for Federal-style furnishings.

“I have struggled with my eyes for the past decade but feel fortunate that I had good eyes until then,” Steve writes. (Our birthdays are lower than a month aside, so I do know that Steve and I are the identical age. I name him my honorary older brother.) “I’ve tried progressive lenses and completely hated them. People mentioned that I might modify to them and I didn’t….interval.

“I’ve a common pair of bifocals for all times and driving they usually work fairly nicely general. For inlay work, I’ve a pair of executive bifocals which implies mainly half the lens is for element work. The separation line between close to and much distances may be very excessive up and runs the complete width of the lens. Most bifocals solely have a small element space and I discovered that I tilt my head up so my eyes can look down. This doesn’t work for me in any respect on the subject of inlay, joinery, something with element. It is simply plain annoying.

“For the really close stuff, inlay repairs and such, I put what I call my ‘geek eyes’ on.  It is your basic visor that is reasonably priced. I’ve looked through a pair of glasses my dentist uses that are tremendous but the cost is ridiculously high and we chose to have food instead.”

Mike Mascelli, upholsterer and teacher

Mike depends on this lighting gizmo for shut work.

Laura Mays, furnishings maker and director of positive woodworking applications at The Krenov School

Laura in work mode with particular bifocals, magnifying visor, and Covid masks (with blue tape to maintain glasses from fogging up — why didn’t I consider that?).

“Ah yes, eyesight,” Laura writes. “Mine took a precipitous fall in my mid-late 40s. Fairly normal but in addition barely alarming. It had been wonderful as much as then. Now I put on bifocals for all times and work, with the shut half set for fairly shut work, which implies I want a completely different pair for pc work. The display is barely farther away and better up so I’ve [a] pair only for that work. I additionally generally put on them when I’ve to do work greater up, above my shoulders kind of stuff, as a result of carrying the bifocals makes me crank my neck in a clumsy means. I do assume carrying bifocals has modified my work a bit: I feel I now incline to work that’s simpler to do on the bench, all throughout the focal vary, so smaller.

“And then mild. I really like the skylight I bought in my workshop a couple of years in the past, it’s actually nice mild. It faces east so direct mild solely comes by within the morning. I’ve a couple of Anglepoises [lamps made for adjustable height and angle] on my bench that I swing round to get raking mild or mild simply the place I want it. I used to be at Paul Reiber’s store the opposite day—he’s a carver a few miles away, in his 70s I suppose—and he had a fantastic mild like dentists use, all weighted and balanced to make it simple to maneuver and keep the place it’s put. Now that’s on my wishlist. Something like this.

Michael Puryear, furnishings maker and teacher

Michael depends on a head-worn magnifier, the Magni Focuser, that enables him to differ the diploma of magnification relying on the element within the work he’s doing.

He additionally makes a level of getting lighting “everywhere”—over his bench, on the lathe, and in every other store places the place he does targeted work. He prefers LED lights and augments them with a swivel lamp straight over the workpiece.

Christopher Schwarz, furnishings maker, teacher, author, and writer at Lost Art Press

(Photo from Christopher Schwarz’s private web site.)

“I’ve been carrying glasses because the age of 6… And I’m 53. I put on trifocals and that [stuff] is dear ($400 a pair).

“For enhancing my close-up imaginative and prescient, I hold it easy. I exploit a 10x loupe with LED lighting, which is a large assist. Here are a couple photographs and under is the hyperlink on Amazon. Sells for $20 and helps me discover nicks in my edge instruments and machine knives.”


John Scott, surgeon and woodworker

If anybody ought to find out about enhancing imaginative and prescient, it’s a surgeon who operates on sufferers’ brains. Dr. John Scott is one such skilled (even when, being modest and self-deprecating, he prefers to consider himself as extra of a glorified plumber who works on blood vessels than a mind surgeon per se). John, too, depends on a magnifying visor, nevertheless it’s a primary one alongside the strains of these talked about right here by others. He was as soon as fitted for an official surgical visor, however he declined to buy one because of the excessive value, as he can see loads clearly with the extra inexpensive visor.

Sewing desk in cherry with sugar pine prime, made by John Scott for his spouse, Susan

Nancy Hiller is a skilled cabinetmaker who has operated NR Hiller Design, Inc. since 1995. Her most up-to-date books are English Arts & Crafts Furniture and Making Things Work, each obtainable at Nancy’s website.

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