Who’s a fan of LEDs on tools? I sure am.

The other day I was routing a little nameplate plaque for my daughter’s bedroom. It’s fussy and slow-paced work. I first cut the letters following a paper template, then pull the template off and rout them even deeper. Not a job you can rush, and it’s one that definitely takes a sharp eye.

I was using a RIDGID R2401 trim router for the job. Aside from its compact size, which I really like, it’s got an LED light underneath to brighten up the area you’re routing. In this particular project, that feature was flat-out indispensable.

Maybe it’s my mid-40s vision starting to go … I’m resisting that sinking feeling that bifocals are finally unavoidable. Or maybe my shop just plain doesn’t have enough light these days. Whatever the reason is, I’m appreciating tools with built-in worklights now more than ever.

In fact, I’d trade all the laser features I’ve ever had on other tools for more LED lights shining a bright white beam down on what I’m doing. In my opinion, a good light source would make the need for laser guides unnecessary in the first place.

I think routers definitely need LEDs, and I’m happy that companies like RIDGID are incorporating them into more and more tools. If you haven’t owned a cordless drill or an impact driver with LED lights, you don’t know what you’re missing. They make working under a cabinet, a dark corner of the shed or outside at dusk SO much easier. You’ll wonder how you did without.

It’s great to have a worklight on a drill press, too. An unbreakable LED would seem to be the perfect fit, but some drill presses still have no light option or take an incandescent bulb. The bulb is fine, but a bright white LED would be even better. Wouldn’t it be cool to have one on a band saw, too? Right down by the upper blade guide.

Do you share my appreciation of LEDs? Do you wish there were even more tools that came with a good, long-lasting and unbreakable light? If so, which ones?

Let me know, and I’ll pass your thoughts on to the manufacturers. LED lights seem like a low-cost feature that would add real value precisely when you need it — just about every time you switch the tool on.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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