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Beginning jeweler workspace

Hi, everyone. I have been reading the newsletter and started a file
because there’s so very much wonderful I have a very
basic question. I have just started a class in North Carolina and
the layout of the studio where there are a number of students is
very efficient. We work at tables (not benches), there’s a
flexshaft area, polishing area, casting, etc. So, I am setting up
my home studio and have ordered my bench, flexshaft, torch, tank,
etc. I have built a U-shaped work space with the bench forming one
side of the U and the other two sides being a wide tabletop going
around the room with shelving above. When the bench arrives it will
be 39" tall and my tabletop going around the room is 40" because
that’s the height of the two file cabinets that support the plywood.
All seems to be really perfect. I have not bought a chair yet and
am not sure what height to buy. Also, the flexshaft I got has a
foot pedal. Now, should I have my flexshaft on the bench? Will I
be able to use the foot pedal at this height? I can’t see exactly
how it will come together. At the school the flexshafts are located
on a regular height table so there’s no problem. Will I want to do
hand polishing with the flexshaft at the bench and can I use the
foot pedal okay at the 39" height and a standard chair? Thanks so
much for any ideas. Cynthia

[Post merge - hanuman]

I’m the same person who wrote the long explanation of heights in my
new studio and asked about flexshaft area heights and bench heights.
I’ve just looked at the gallery of studio shots and to my great
surprise, find that not everyone has a traditional store-bought
bench. So, do you think it’s necessary for me to rush out and buy
a jeweler’s bench believing that it’s an absolutely necessary tool
for making jewelry? Perhaps I should work in the space I have with
an ergonomically designed chair and see if I start feeling the need
for a bench? It’s quite an expense to one who’s just getting
started if not totally necessary. Ideas appreciated. Cynthia-

 Now, should I have my flexshaft on the bench?  Will I be able to
use the foot pedal at this height?  I can't see exactly how it will
come together.

Yes, of course you should have your flexshaft at your bench, with
the foot pedal on the floor. The cord is very long and there won’t
be a problem.

The whole idea of the jeweler’s bench is that everything is right
there and you hardly have to get up for anything. That’s the
difference btw your classroom set up and your home set up. At home
you don’t have to share with the whole class and you can set it up
as you like.

I just bought my first real jeweler’s bench after 12 years of
metalsmithing, and I love it. (I bought one at a place recommended
on Orchid – Progress Tool and Supply – I was looking for a dark
wood bench.)

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Certified PMC Instructor

cynthia, i’ve found a jeweler’s bench to be extremely wonderful. if
you can afford it, go ahead and make the investment. it is
specifically designed for jewelers, has good drawers, and most
importantly, a drawer you can pull out to catch your filings and
scraps and also the stones you might inadvertently drop!!! also, the
best chair is one with a lever where you can adjust the height and
also the placement of the back, for good back support. i got mine at
office depot for about $150, and it is great. i find myself “going
up and down” quite often in my chair, depending on what i am working
on. and lastly, YES! you must have your flex shaft at your bench, as
it is one of the most necessary tools, and you will use it all the
time. even if you are working with your chair higher than normal,
there is no problem reaching the pedal. i am 5 ft tall, and still,
no problem.

good luck
where are you in NC? i’m near asheville!
joanna gollberg

Hi Cynthia, Be creative with your workspace! You don’t need to spend
all this money if you can make use of tables, surfaces and tools that
you already have! Just make sure you are comfortable where you work,
and your space is as efficient as possible. Money is better spent on
your materials than a fancy space if you have the time to put it all

Kim Fraczek

Cynthia, I use a a ’ computer ’ chair. It swivels and it also has a
hydraulic height adjustment, so I can raise it fairly high when
needed, while soldering for instance. I lower it when using the saw,
the swivel action makes sawing much easier as well. The back rest is
also a plus, when sitting back trying to figure out what should be
done next. Best of Luck, Michael

Hi Cynthia, I don’t use a traditional jeweler’s workbench, but rather
a cabinet arrangement that was pre-existing in the house when we
bought it. The workspace is an odd 34" high (roughly the height of a
kitchen counter). It is, in essence, plywood on top of base kitchen
cabinets. I’ve extended the space outward by attaching 1 x 3 boards
across the length, about 1" under the height of the top surface.
These are my platform for my bench pin, rotating bench vise, etc.
Because of its length, the same platform has room for everything from
my pickle pot to my drill press, contains my bookshelf and has a mini
TV to keep me company on those long tedious tasks. I love it.

I’ve made an arrangement of smooth plastic “tarp” suspended from the
1x3s to catch my shavings, pieces I might drop, etc. It has rings in
it that suspend it from hooks, and i just detach it and periodically
empty it into my scrapings jar, until I have enough to send away to
the refiner for reclamation.

Best of all, instead of using a chair I use a drummer’s “throne”
(that’s what they call it in the music store). It’s got a triangular
shaped seat that prevents pressure discomfort in long sessions, is
padded ergonomically, and is easily height adjustable. They are
available both with and without backs – I prefer the one without a
back, because it helps me avoid the temptation to lean, which
inevitably turns into a slouch and a backache. Since I lean forward
slightly while working, this seat is really ideally designed for the
postures of the jeweler. Mine is not on wheels (my one quibble with
it), but I bought those scooter things at Home Depot that you can sit
the chair onto to make it slide easily over any surface. It’s
possible that I could find wheels for it, or that they make them
with wheels, but it hasn’t bothered me enough to make me go looking.

For safety’s sake, I do have my torch on a separate table – an OLD
metal and formica kitchen table, covered with firebrick and located
at my special vent for fumes. Just makes me feel much safer having
the torch on a non-flammable surface.

Good luck and have fun getting set up. Don’t feel that you have to
replicate what you have in the classroom – as you get more into it,
you will find yourself rearranging things to suit your particular
style of working, and you will likely figure out some excellent
arrangements for yourself.

Karen Goeller

Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a workbench for your jewelry projects? We recommend:

cynthia asked questions about setting up her work space and wondered
how she would use the flex shaft at heights of 39 and 40 inches. i
work on a drafting table that is about 39 inches tall. we built a
wide wooden box for my feet and my flex shaft pedal.

jean adkins

Hi cynthia, sounds like you have a good start on the jewellers
tools!! I have just started working at home, and my first priority
was getting the bench and chair correct for me. As we are going to
be working there for quite long periods it really is worth getting
it set up so that you dont do any long term damage to yourself,with
a spinal condition so this was obviously a major concern for me.

I didnt however buy a ready made bench, and made mine,after looking
up about bench heights.They are mostly 35.5 inches -38" tall. I found
a solid table at a thrift shop, and bought a solid piece of pine
which i shaped for the top. And it is great.

The chair I chose was an adjustable office chair, with removable
arms, adjustable height and back with lumbar support.

Things to remember include that you don’t want to have to move out
of your way to get a tool when working. Understand your work space
in relationship to your body. Move your body and arms around while
sitting in your favorite comfortable chair to work in. Usually when
seated in your chair your arms when straight out should rest on the
table top. You can of course start at another type of table-just
don’t set yourself up for neck or back problems because of the
height you are working at. Get a feeling for how you are comfortable
in your work space.

Cynthia, i think what ever you decide to do, (at the risk of
sounding like an ergonomic bore )its most important that you are not
putting any strain on your back, and general egonomic DSE principles
apply to the jewellers bench as much as the do to your computor-
anyway you want to create and thats a whole lot easier when you are

It does seem daunting the amount you can easily fork out on tools
etc, the approach i took in the end was buy to the basics first and
then as the need for a particular tool arose with a item , I
purchased it!

I have sent you ann article you might find interesting, Best of luck
cynthia nikky