Roubo on Light

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With the recent discussion of shop light and window direction, I thought it would be interesting to post a short excerpt from A.J. Roubo on shop light. While I don’t recall Roubo discussing the direction the windows should face, he does detail how to bring diffuse light into the interior.

Ever since translating this section 10 years ago, I’ve wanted to make some muslin diffuser panels to try them out.

— Christopher Schwarz

“The front counter of the shop should be of a height equal to that of the benches so that in the case of works of an extraordinary length you can pass the wood over them while working and rest them there.

“There should be as many entrances as necessary for the width of the building, which should be closed with doors that should open the complete height to facilitate the entry of the wood. They should be covered with light muslin fabric so that when in use you can enjoy daylight in the interior of the shop.

“The upper part of the counter should also be closed up with frames covered in fabric, which are pulled open during the day and are held to the floor by wooden crossbars [hardware fittings] which hold them there.

“At the top of the front of the shop should be placed a porch roof of about 18 thumbs or 2 feet overhang, which serves to prevent water from entering and ruining your work and tools.”

— from the forthcoming “To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Furniture”

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14 Responses to Roubo on Light

  1. Hank Cohen says:

    You might try Shoji screens. They have much the same effect.

  2. Bob Jones says:

    Indirect lighting is the next best thing to raking light. I’m stuck with night work mostly. I bought daylight type fluorescents and point them up at the ceiling. I get a bright room that is not blinding.

  3. woodworkerme says:

    my shop at home has south facing windows and my bench is right in front of the window and if I am looking down at my work it’s ok but if it is standing up the back ground is way to bright to see what I am doing on the face. at the school it faces the west and not so bad till late in the afternoon.
    I dont think muslin would help at home or at the school.

  4. Sounds like curtains. What the wife would call sheers. Maybe when Lucy May isn’t looking…😉

  5. jkvernier says:

    I rented a space in an old industrial building (ca.1905) which had full height 12′ windows all along one wall, and I positioned my bench as per Roubo. It worked very well, as I would expect from a building from the era when daylight was still the primary expected light source. Unfortunately my shop faced south, and so I put in full venetian blinds, which I needed to manipulate as the sun moved, to keep the glare under control. Nevertheless the light conditions were better than in most shops I have worked in where artificial light was the primary source.

  6. Wish I could put a few windows in my garage workshop. I’ll have to live with florescent lights until the next one.

  7. shelbuh says:

    I’ve wondered what it would be like to work under a roof system like this: http://www.rpbw.com/project/36/cy-twombly-pavilion/ … incredibly even diffuse lighting from above (that could be augmented with window light or task lighting). Too expensive to even think about though!

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