Poor Man’s Wash Station

If life is a sandbox, and we are all just playing in it, we’re bound to have some dirty hands right? Well, I for sure seem to get dirty all the time no matter what. Which for a bachelor that maybe lives in his cave all the time, that may be fine. But this guy (two thumbs pointing at myself) found himself a real woman, and that lady doesn’t like me leaving bloody, dirty, greasy, etc. marks all over her house. So that means I have a problem.

THE PROBLEM:

I have a heated detached garage commonly described as a

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and in this

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is where I do all my

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and when I do all my

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I get dirty; mainly my hands.

THE SOLUTION:

I contacted the warden (my wife) and petitioned for some more funds because the inmates (my children) were getting paint all over the garage when we were doing crafts, and I needed a better setup to clean them and the walls up. The warden informed me that due to poor life choices by the sheriff in town (me) that I would have to skip a few meals to afford such an upgrade. Little did she know that this Sheriff (two thumbs pointing towards me) recently started a gluten-free-dairy-free-sugar-free-anytypeofgoodfood-free diet, and I might as well trade in eating for mancave upgrades.

I had searched around on craigslist for awhile and found a stainless steel countertop which I paid precisely $29 for. $29 is an odd number to settle on for any item, but it was craigslist and weird things happen on craigslist. I chose the stainless steel because I wanted a tough, easy to clean surface for all the crafts, meat processing, and fish cleaning we do. I had a 5 gallon bucket laying around the shop. I also had a workbench I had build out of 2×4’s and plywood not doing a whole lot in my pole shed so I decided to put them all together and boom! Instant garage sink. img_1406img_1405

I took off the old top of the workbench and used Liquid Nails to secure it to the frame of the bench.

I then added an 7 Gallon Aqua-tainer storage jug with spigot to the counter to complete the wash station.

Here is a video look at the setup:

 

I have built many different benches around our pole shed and garage and put them all on these  Caster Wheels.

It has been great to have in the garage, and I find myself utilizing this sink quite about during all my various projects. It also will be good during the warmer months because I plan on wheeling this outside in the summertime when it comes time to clean fish. I will hook the garden hose right up to the old faucet and have a mobile wash station/fish cleaning setup.

This is an easy to replicate project that will bring a lot of value to your

MANCAVE meme

 

 

Review: Walker’s Youth Active Earmuffs

This review is very near and dear to my heart. I have a deep passion for the outdoors and have experienced some of the most memorable times of my life hunting  with my family and friends. Becoming a father has further renewed my passion for being outdoors and sharing the activities I had growing up with my own children.

It is over halfway through October and the northern Minnesota winds have been tearing off all the stubborn leaves still clinging to the trees. This is my favorite time of the year with so many different types of outdoor activities to do. One that I have been wanting to share with my kids has been Grouse hunting.

THE PROBLEM:

The past few years, I have grabbed my now five year old daughter and drove out into the woods. We would throw on our orange and I would even grab and load the shotgun. Her little legs never lasted much more than an hour slowly crunching our way down the leaf-covered trails. I had flushed multiple grouse but never really felt comfortable shooting. The issue wasn’t with feeling unsafe. I always follow safe gun practices especially in the presence of others. There was just this nagging feeling that the blast of a 12 gauge was not good for her little ears. I had nervous dad fears that one blast from that shotgun would scare her so bad that she wouldn’t want to ever come into the woods with me again. We have always used ear muffs for the kids around fireworks or taking my kids on a ride on the lawn mower, but they hamper the kids ability to hear and maintain a conversation; and when this dad (two thumbs up pointing at myself) walks in the woods with his daughter, we have much to converse about.  So the birds would fly, I would make a mental note to come back alone someday and hope they were right there waiting for me.

THE SOLUTION:

Walker’s Game Ear Youth Active Muff

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We found these bad boys trolling amazon one afternoon after the cheap harbor freight ear muffs I had for the kids for around the house broke. I wasn’t aware of the active electronic ear muffs before finding these, and was skeptical when I read how they worked. The claim from their page was as follows:

“Walker’s brings our award winning Sound Activated Compression technology that activates within .02 seconds of a sudden loud noise that could damage hearing. Powered by 2 “”AAA”” batteries (included) and Noise Reduction Rating of 22dB these electronic muffs are built for serious youth hearing protection.”

So basically through some type of space age miracle technology they claim that you and I can wear these muffs and carry on a conversation without even a hint of obstructed hearing. OK, sure I’ll bite, and at the $25 dollar sale price for the pink and $34 dollar sale price for the blue, we figured it was worth a shot.

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Not willing to trust my little babies hearing to a claim on an amazon page, I decided to try this out for myself. I think this is an appropriate time to add a little about-the-author info into the review.

I am a 29 year old male.

I have a nice fitting motorcycle helmet sized ADULT XL.

Putting these two facts together, I figured there was no way they were gonna work. But I extended them out all the way and put them on with relative ease. It occurred to me that the good folks over at Walker’s had allowed space for a winter hat in their design. I continued to walk into my metal pole shed and reach deep into the leftover firework bin for a handful of  fun little noisemakers called a fuse-less firecracker. A fuse-less firecracker is basically one of those fun little pop-its you throw at the ground on steroids. I power up the active ear muffs and take one of my fire crackers and whip itt the concrete by my feet only to hear…….

click. 

It sounds normally like a very loud blast resonating around the big pole shed, but with the ear muffs, It was like hearing someone break a Cheez-it in two.

I was fully shocked and thought maybe it was a fluke. I handed the muffs to my wife and completed the same test over and over. We could talk to each other no problem, but any time we did something extremely loud it was completely muffled. Just incredible.

Armed with my newfound magical muffs, I took the kids out on a beautiful fall afternoon grouse hunt. My daughter is 5 years old and my son is only 3. Needless to say, short little legs do not get along long treks through the woods but we made it about an hour chatting and stomping around in the leaves with no grouse in sight. The kids thought the muffs were great and actually kept their little ears warm in the cool October breeze.  I decided to go for gold and try out the full capability of the muffs. I had the kids stand back and I paced in front of them a few yards. Lifting the 12 gauge up in a safe direction, I gave final warning I was going to fire. I pulled the trigger and the ol’ Remington 870 barked as bb’s flew harmlessly to the ground many yards away. I flicked the gun back to safe and looked back for reaction only to be pleasantly greeted by two big smiles. I was especially relieved seeing my boy, who has somewhat sensitive hearing, excitedly saying it wasn’t loud at all!

Those two ear-to-ear smiles beaming at me was all it took to make me a  believer in Walker’s and their Youth Muffs. In fact, I plan on getting some for myself.

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As a side note, the muffs come with a handy headphone jack and cord which allows you to use them as noise cancelling headphones. These muffs would also be great for any loud activities like fireworks or parades with loud fire trucks!

THE CONCLUSION:

These muffs provided me with peace of mind that I am protecting my kids hearing all the while taking them on grouse walks. The fulfillment as a father I feel being able to take my kids out into the woods on a hunt for grouse is hard to describe. These muffs allowed my children and I to both enjoy the outdoors together, and that to me is priceless.

Here is the amazon link to the different color options of muffs:

Pink Muffs

Turquoise Muffs

Green Muffs

Blue Muffs

First Look: Wen Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Wen Scroll Saw on  Amazon
Wen Scroll Saw on Amazon

I recently purchased a Wen Scroll saw on amazon for small woodworking crafts. I have three hours cutting on it so far. In this review, I will break down the pros and cons I have encountered thus far. As a note to the article: I have never owned or operated a scroll saw in my life.

 

THE PROS:

Weight and Size

When I first pulled this saw out of the box, I was pleasantly surprised at how light the whole unit was. The saw weighs in at just 26 pounds. It is easily manageable and compact enough to store under the workbench when you don’t need it and pull it out when you do. I have to share my mancave with my wife’s car during the winter so space and organization are important.

Here it sits under the workbench neatly tucked away

Setup and Operation-

After reading the operation manual, I set the saw on a movable cable reel table I made for general shop projects. I Plugged the saw in and attached a Shop Vac to the dust port on the saw. This helps suck the dust from the cut into a container and keeps it from floating all around your shop. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet the machine is. When I fired up the saw at full speed, I quickly realized that this baby was smooth and quiet. I was wearing ear muffs and think I could have gotten away without them. 

The wood I was cutting on was 1/2″ thick scrap wood of various types. The Saw came with three different blades and I opted for the medium sized blade. I purchased spare Blades right away. They are 5″ pin end blades. Swapping blades was quick and easy. It was good to have extra blades around because depending on how good you are and the quality of the blades, you may have to swap out. I got approximately 45 minutes of cut time on the blades I was using.

Here is a video of the saw in action on full speed:

Changing the blade out is simple:

Unplug the machine, lift the blade tension handle, push the head down and insert your pin-head blade. Push the blade tensioner back into its original position and saw your little heart out!

Adjusting the foot for your thickness:

Unplug the machine, loosen the adjustment know on the left hand size of the saw and slide the foot down onto the wood. You don’t want the foot down hard on the wood as it will be harder to manipulate the angles. Light pressure will keep the wood from jumping around and save your hands extra work holding the wood in place. 

Being a first-timer-scrollsawer-guy with sausage fingers, there was a learning curve and with practice, I fully expect to extend the life of the blades.

Pro Tip: I quickly learned that pushing harder does not equal more efficiant cutting. Do not try and force the wood into the blade. Slowly feed the wood and let the blade chew the wood. You will end up with a smoother cut and extend the life of your blade.

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Here you can see I was cutting out a pumpkin. This particular wood was oak. Oak is a harder wood and the saw performed great. 

Small Features I liked:

I liked the adjustable light on the saw. I have decent lighting in my Mancave, but the led light was nice to place right where I wanted it. 

The speed adjustment knob on the right of the saw easily allowed me to slow the blade during tight intricate cuts and speed up on longer portions of the cut. This allowed me great control of the operation. It was also nice to start on a slower speed while I was learning.

There is a small blade storage compartment on the left hand side of the saw. This is not a major feature, but something deep inside of me loves organization. Keeping all my blades together in a compartment allows me to have everything I need in one place and saves the headache of hunting for blades when I have a short amount of time to work on projects.

Price Point:

Being a husband and papa bear to three hungry cubs means keeping the budget in check. Coming in at about $125 on Amazon is fairly light on the wallet compared to other models. For my application, we will be using this scroll saw periodically for crafts. I will not be using it every day. With that said, the overall quality of the saw is great. It does not feel cheap or flimsy and performed great for everything I was throwing at it. 

THE CONS:

Not A lot to Say Here-

Let me first say, WEN is not supporting this review and I have don’t have any attachments to the company. (But if Wen marketing people are reading this, I WANT ALL YOUR WOODWORKING TOOLS!!!!) In the interest of a well rounded review, I feel some pressure to have solid points about the cons of this machine, but I am struggling to come up with much.

The only real small issue I had with this machine is I had to adjust the level on the foot so it sat flush on the wood. That’s it.

SUMMARY:

When I consider the small investment into the unit, the ease I had setting up and operating, and the overall experience of the saw, I would whole heartedly recommend this saw to anyway who may ever need a scroll saw. The value, ease of use, and  practicality of having a scroll saw in your craft area makes it a no brainer.

Here is some examples of what I cut out so far:

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And here is the link to how to make them:

Googly Eyed Halloween Fun!

 

Here again is the link to purchase:

 Wen Scroll Saw on Amazon

 

 

 

Googly Eyed Halloween Fun!

img_1307Are you looking for a fun craft to jumpstart your Halloween spirit?? Then check out this craft!!

In this post I will walk through from start to finish this craft in all its googly-eyed glory!!

To start out, here are the mandatory items you will need (I will link the items I used in the list) :

Here are the optional that help the craft go even better:

Now lets CRAFT these GOOGLY EYED BAD BOYS

STEP ONE

Search the Interwebs for any pictures of Ghosts, Goblins, Bats, Pumpkins etc.. and print them out. Again, I use this because I can print right off my phone over the wifi using this Printer sitting anywhere in my house and it will be sitting warm on my printer within seconds. Here is an example of the patterns we chose:

STEP TWO

Place the transfer paper, graphite side down on the wood. Then place your spooky template over the transfer paper and trace the outline of the image. This is what mine looked like after tracing: img_1261

STEP THREE

Pull up a chair in front of the Ol’ Scroll Saw and cut cut cut. img_1262

This process takes a little time depending on the number and intricacy of your shapes your cutting out. The bats we cut out were the most challenging to cut and take approximately 3-5 minutes to cut out taking it slow. The variable speed dial on my scroll saw is easy to adjust to whatever speed you want to cut. As you can see in the picture, I like to run a shop vac attached to my scroll saw when cutting. This keeps the dust down. My Mancave is basically my baby, and like any good father, you should keep that baby warm and clean.

STEP FOUR

After you have all your shapes cut out, its time to smooth out all the edges so nobody gets hurt. When kids are involved, its good to mitigate possible tears. And if someone flings a non-sanded-pokey-six-inch-bat at someone else, there is a high change of tears. I used 60 grit sand paper out of this Assortment. The more aggressive grit helps make it sand faster. But be careful to not chip off any pieces if you are going hard with the sander. Also I used the optional Dremel Multi Tool which helped reach the tight spots. You could achieve the same results with a folded 5” sanding disc and some elbow grease. Here is the final sanded result: img_1274

STEP FIVE

Time to drill. Grab a 1/16″ inch drill bit and carefully drill a 1/2″ or so hole in the location of your wood piece that you want to attatch the eye hook into. Be careful when drilling and screwing to not crack the wood. I recommend going slow and center your drilling location in the middle of the wood. The pumpkins were tricky because I drilled into the stem. I went very slow and had good luck. Some scrap wood like pine may be more prone to cracking than a higher quality wood like oak or maple. If you have trouble screwing the eye hooks into the wood you can step up your drill bit size one size up. 

Here is the Drill I use, the Drill Bits I use, and the Eye Hooks I used in this project. 

STEP SIX

Screw in the eyehooks into the wood and admire your work!

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STEP SEVEN

Lay out your craft and get everything ready to go. I set out all my paints and brushes and googly eyes for quick grabbing. For this particular craft I enlisted the help of some very excited kids and their parents for a fun Halloweeny paint session.

Depending on where and how your going to craft, add a little fun and spice up the atmosphere. We threw on spooky Halloween music on Spotify and got ready to go. 

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STEP EIGHT

Paint Paint Paint! We used some scrap wire placed through the eye hook to hold it to reduce the amount of sticky paint fingers flailing around wildly. This allowed to paint all the sides and also worked great for hanging up the pieces to dry. img_1298

The kids and everybody seemed to have a great time. You can definitely do this project solo but is a great way to spice up any Halloween get together or even a busy rain day. The paint should dry in just a few hours depending on the temp and humidity where you are painting. Start to finish, our paint was dry within an hour or so with the help of a hair dryer. 

STEP NINE

Get your Googly-Eye on! The Googly Eyes that we bought on Amazon have a sticky adhesive on the back of them. We removed that and opted to put a dab of super glue on to hold them. The kids had a good time picking out eyes and we had the adults help use the glue because nobody wants to peel a layer of skin off trying to get super glue off. img_1307

FINAL STEP

Tie your twine through the eye hook and enjoy! I didn’t get a final picture of all of the crafts line up. They were headed out the door as fast as they were finished! 

If you liked this post please share.

If you end up doing this craft send me pictures or post to Northern Man Craft page!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

 

 

Perfect Morning for Ducks

It’s 5am as my eyes open to the soft sound of the alarm on my phone. A feeling of excitement comes over me; its a mid duck season Saturday and after some intense talks, I negotiated with the wife a hall pass on parenting duties. I quietly creep out of out of the comfort of my cozy bedroom; careful to not make a sound awakening the sleeping 9 month old and the crimson wrath of my wife. I mumble to my Amazon Echo Dot, “Alexa, What is the weather like this morning?”. She rattles off the local weather this morning; Calm, 40 degrees with a high of 58. I slam a breakfast bar.

A buddy of mine stumbles out of the Mancave  and into the kitchen. We are not savages at this household. Our guests are allowed to sleep inside but the upgrades to the mancave make it an ideal place to spend the night, especially after a beverages. We discuss our plan of attack andload up the guns, ammo, decoys and kayaks. I slide into my Frogg Togg Camo Waders and he does the same. We hop in the truck and head out with hopes and dreams of shooting our limit of ducks.

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We arrive at the super-top-secret-duck-and-goose honey hole. The time is about 6:15 am and its dead calm.  Alexa was accurate on only part of her forcast. She was right about the calm part, but not quite the 40 degrees part. It’s colder than my smart speaker friend told me. I am glad I have insulated waders today because the water droplets that are sitting on the top of my kayak are turning to ice.  Looking up in the sky I can see the constellation Orion shining bright. When I start seeing Orion, I know that cold weather and winter is close. We silently paddle out to a small floating bog. It is hard to see shoreline across the water as the fog is thick. We toss out our decoys in a “careful and well orchestrated spread” and pull our kayaks up onto a floating section of bog. This particular chunk of bog juts out into the water from the shoreline on a point and is very near to a freshly worked on beaver house.

The sun begins to peek over the tree tops and shows light on our spread. It is a picturesque Minnesota morning; a special time to be outdoors.

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An ornery beaver pokes his head out of the water and flails its paddle like tail with loud “SMACK”. This was enough to startle my friend up ready to shoot. I consider that particular beaver very lucky, as he is messing with two locked-and-loaded duck hunters. “This is his turf.” I say to my buddy. Anyway, he must know the DNR regulations, you cannot shoot a beaver and a beaver pelt full of BB holes is no good anyways. The beaver wanders off and our blood pressure returns to normal.

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The faint grumbles of groggy geese begin to emerge from the still of the morning. We sit silent hidden in the weeds and I choose to blow a good morning wakeup call to the “plethora” of ducks that must be hiding somewhere close to us, just waiting to fly. I put the Duck Call to my lips and let out a quick “Quack–Quack–Quack”. In my mind I am pleased thinking it must sound like an invitation from the coolest duck around to come loaf around this beaver hut with me. It is my first year duck hunting so I am still working out how to use a duck call effectively. Across the water from us I hear a return “quack”. How suave I must’ve sounded.

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The fog begins to float and disappear into the sunrise. Thuds begin to erupt around us in the distance. We see a few flocks fly around far off in the distance. I hammer on my duck call trying to entice a few flocks in. I feel like a four three foot t-rex trying to reach a steak at the top shelf of the super market; just too far away. We sit for a few hours feeling a smidge of disappointment. It’s now 9am. The guilt of leaving Mama bear alone with all the cubs begins to tug on me. Guilt mixed with no chances of bagging any ducks pushes us to pack up the decoys and float on. Paddling back to load up the kayaks I have a rock solid feeling of content.

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We have no ducks to show but I am not leaving empty handed. I have a memory of a beautiful morning outdoors with a great friend. It may not feed the stomach but it does feed the soul.

Easy Halloween Crafts

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to get your craft juices flowing. Grab some of your scrap wood from the garage put your tools to work with this easy to do craft. This is a previous craft I did, so I do not have a lot of in progress pictures but I will link all the tools I have used.

For this project you will need the following:

Scrap 2×4, 2×6, 2x10s. It is a great way to get rid of all the scrap wood laying around your shop or garage. I like using the thicker wood like 2×4’s because you can stand the craft up without needing to do extra work for hanging.

Miter saw-  I use a 12″ Dewalt Sliding Compound Miter saw. This is a very versatile saw and a must for any basic carpentry you do and works great for quick easy cuts for crafts. I highly recommend spending the little extra on this saw and it should last you a lifetime!

Be sure to pick up an assortment of sand paper for your sander. Here is the link for the sand paper I have had good luck with: Sand Paper

Here is the link to the sander on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VXOJTi

Jig saw- I have owned many different jig saws for crafts so far. The current jig saw I have is this one: Dewalt Jigsaw The price on amazon is not bad hovering around $100. I like it because you can vary the speed of the blade while you are doing more intricate cuts and speed up for long straighter cuts. It also has a nice trigger lock so you can set it for longer cuts without having to hold the button down. The corded version does tether you to a wall but works forever without having to change batteries especially when you are hammering out wood crafts.

Again, here is the link: https://amzn.to/2P2BkId

The next tool you will need is a sander. I promise you I do not only buy Dewalt tools, but you cannot beat the 5″ Dewalt Orbital Sander. This small sander quickly sands down all your crafts in a hurry and has the ability to hook a vacuum up to it to keep the dust down. That is very important in a small mancave like mine that is multi use. It also has a small bag attached to it that you can empty out as necessary. At only $55 dollars it is a must for any shop.

Here is the link to Amazon: 5″ Dewalt Orbital Sander

Paint brushes- I buy these brushes by the boat load. They are easy to clean and reuse a few times. Once they are worn out, just toss them in the garbage.

The last item you will need for your Spooky Halloween Craft is paint. I am very selective about my paint because I take a lot of time to prep these crafts so I want them to last forever. I use Apple Barrel Paint for 95% of all my paint crafts. The quality is consistent and you can find any color your looking for! I usually get the Assortment every few months.

Here is the link: Apple Barrel Paint

The Quick and dirty instructions are as follows

Cut the two wood into separate small chunks with your miter saw. This can be whatever length or size you would like it to be.

Draw out your shapes based on what you want to make such as ghosts, pumpkins, Frankenstein etc. It is easy to draw the outline in pencil.

Use the jig saw to cut out your traced lines.

Finish up by sanding all the wood down with some rough sand paper. I like to use 80 grit to save time.

Now the fun part:

Put on some spooky Halloween music and paint the night away! Great fun time craft for the kids.

Here are some examples of what we made this year!!!

Easy snack storage!

We recently decluttered our pantry and searched for a quick and easy option to store snacks in our kitchen. We decided on two different sizes of mason jars to store our snacks on the counter. The jars organize our snacks and looks great on the kitchen counter. As you can see in the pictures we go a little nuts on nuts around this house!Add a rustic touch to the kitchen.

Here is the link to Amazon:

32 oz big jars

https://amzn.to/2MKGg1H

16 oz medium jars

https://amzn.to/31mEzg6

Setting up your Craft Cave!

So here you are, all fired up to do some crafts. Coffee is hot, breakfast is cleaned up and its time to bang out some of those great holiday crafts your kids have been bugging you about. If only you had a space in your home/garage where you could start and stop crafts at a moments notice. I am a busy working Dad with kids, a wife, a full time job and a lot of ideas but not a lot of time. I will show you basic craft cave setup that I have built and what has worked for me. Here is a panoramic view where all the crafty magic happens.

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As you can see, It is a bit of a cluttered mess, but I will focus on the essentials.

My particular Craft Cave is a small insulated two car garage with propane heater. Most of my crafts are done in the wee hours of the morning or late at night after the kids are sleeping and the dishes are done. Here are the basic bare necessities I have acquired mostly off amazon.

LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!!!!

In the beginning, man had small fires to light up the cave. That didn’t do much for cutting out tiny pieces on the scroll saw. Time to upgrade to these super bright corncob leds. I bought two of each of this style.

The first two lights I tried were these:

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Relatively cheap and effective for great usable lights. I have ran these lights for one year now and they are working great. They are light LED’s and screw into standard light bulb socket. Click on the picture for the link to Amazon:

The next two lights I Installed were these Amazon ones:

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These are a 20W equivalent LED with great light output. at around $30 for two it was not a bad deal. I have ran these for about a year as well with good results. Click on the picture for a link to Amazon:

Both of these Lights do a great job and I would recommend purchasing either for your setup. The only caution is that they are very bright. They work good for task lighting but if your trying to set up a craft cave where you will also be trying to nap they might be a little harsh. Unless your into napping with the sunglasses on.