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.