"We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us"

Posted: 12/17/09
Updated 12/28/09: Added light output readings; 1/18/10: Added note about Rockler light recall; 6/28/10: Added update on LED failures, changed recommendation; 6/30/10: Another LED dies

Review: Wood River LED Dual Power Shop Light

Terrific little add-on light for shadowy power tools
Nice light but failed after only six months

NOTE: The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall notice on a dual-power LED light sold by Rockler that looks very similar to this light. WoodCraft technical support has told me that this light (and their other similar magnifying light) have a different internal wiring configuration and are not affected by the recall.

$29.99 from WoodCraft (purchased on sale for $19.99)

UPDATE: After only six months, four five of the seven LEDs in the light have failed and a fifth sixth one is flickering. The light hasn't been subjected to any unusual vibrations, been dropped, or anything else that would explain the failures. While it performed well, failure after only six months of intermittent use isn't acceptable and I no longer recommend buying the light.

My shop is fairly well-lit. But as I approach my fifties, like most people, I find that I need more light to see clearly. But sometimes even a well-lit shop has dark spots.

A good example is my new miter saw station. Located against a wall, standing in front of it blocks light from the rest of the shop. Plus the fact than leaning over to see the exact position of the blade on the wood makes it worse. So a little extra task lighting was in order.

The Wood River light is very well built. While made of plastic, it's a very heavy-gauge plastic and quite sturdy. The light has a nice heft to it and has a quality feel.

A nice feature of the light that I've not seen on others like it is the ability to use either batteries or a wall outlet for power. The unit can use two AAA batteries to make it easy to move around as needed from tool to tool, which is quite handy. But if, like me, you're looking to use it as a permanent task light, it also includes a wall transformer that plugs into the base.

Be aware that the battery mode produces considerably less light than the transformer. When plugged into the transformer, the light produces around 5,600 lux at 12 inches. With freshly charged batteries, it only produces around 2,900 and quickly drops off. After about two hours, the light drops below the recommended minimum 1,000 lux for detailed task lighting.

The light's flexible neck is easy to bend and holds its position. It does have its limits on how much it will bend, in this photo the upper portion of the neck is curved about as tight as possible.

There are two different ways to mount the light. The light has a built-in magnet in the base that's strong and will hold the light securely on any ferrous surface, making it ideal for drill presses, bandsaws, etc. The fact that you can quickly reposition it adds to its usefulness. But if your tool's body is aluminum, stainless steel, etc or you want to mount the light to a nearby tabletop, the included steel clamp works very well and has a large clamping range. The top of the clamp has little ears that fit around the light base, but the primary holding power is the magnet. Personally, I'd be tempted to just attach a large fender washer wherever I wanted to mount the light so I could move it easily between machines.

The Wood River light uses seven LEDs to produce its light. LEDs produce a bright, clear light while producing almost no heat. They also consume very, very little power and should last far longer than any conventional bulb. The lens is actually seven separate lenses to focus the light forward. For some reason, this lens reminds me of "War of the Worlds".

The lens gives you some adjustability to the light pattern. By removing the lens, you can get a broader, softer spotlight. Just be aware that the lens twists into place to lock it. If you just slip it on, the lenses will not be aligned over the LEDs and gives you a dim, funky star pattern. Of course, if you like that sort of thing, this is an additional feature!

The only issue I had with the light (and it's a minor one) is the brightness.The light is great and plenty bright when you can place it within a foot or so of where you're working. Beyond that, it can start getting a little dim. But, while it's not quite bright enough for my miter station light, I've found that it's wonderful for my Powermatic 14" bandsaw, which has a really badly designed light.

The Wood River LED Dual Power Shop Light is well-designed, rugged, flexible, and a great addition to your shop. And if you catch it on sale, it's even better!

Highly recommended.

    Questions? Comments? Offers of free cash? Email me at