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Bench design


#1

Hello group:

I’m designing and building my own jeweller’s bench and want to throw
out a few questions on specific measurements. I have reviewed all the
relevant Orchid archived posts, looked at the bench photos in the
Bench exchange, looked at retailers sites and read a few books
dedicated to bench construction. Very sparse on actual dimensions for
specific sections.

The design has a cutout (not European semi-circle) which I refer to
as an angular indent and my first question is what should be the
width of this indent? I’m thinking about 16-18" for the straight
portion parallel to my body, GRS system attached here, along with
slot for ring mandrel. I figured about 8" for the angled wings coming
off at 45 degrees.

These measurements will give me about a 30" indent, under which I
will have three draws, including a sweeps drawer.

My next question concernsside draws of which I intend to have two
banks one on either side of the bench. I am hoping to get some input
as to what some members consider a “good” mix of depths for these
draws. I figure about 36" or so of available drawer banks on either
side. I was thinking of maybe 2-6" with a couple of trays, 3-4" with
trays, 2-3", and 3-2".

Does this seem like a good mix to those who have side draws on their
benches? Is there any reason to have a drawer larger than 6" or
smaller than 2"?

All input is appreciated.
Regards,
Ken S.


#2

Hi Ken

Your bench depends on what you do at the bench. I have different
benches for different tasks.

My main point for a bench is ALL tools should be within arms length,
WITHOUT STRETCHING TO GET.

The best all round bench I have seen was my teacher’s Walraven van
Heeckeren (google for tour of his workshop) It was made from three
railway sleepers bolted together with the cut out carved out.

Legs were 4 x 4 inset into the railway sleepers.

Hit this bench as hard as you can and it would not move.

Richard
Xtines Jewels


#3

Discussions over this topic took place few times over the last
couple of years at the Orchid forums. You can retrieve
the threads by running a keyword search.

Some other corners on Ganoksin with on Bench design

The Jeweler’s Bench Exchange
A collection of over 350 benches and workspaces

A project from the Orchid community of jewelry enthusiasts and
professionals. We’ve tried to capture our benches in the midst of
everyday turmoil.

The Jeweler’s Bench Book

In The Jeweler’s Bench Book, acclaimed metalsmith Charles
Lewton-Brain offers expert advice on how you can choose the bench
that best meets your needs-then modify it for maximum efficiency.
With plentiful full-color illustrations, The Jeweler’s Bench Book
covers everything from the basics of bench design to ingenious tips
for tool storage and arrangement. It also includes real-life "tours"
of how renowned jewelers have set up their own bench areas. (Prime
Sponsor: Rio Grande )

105 Jewelers Bench Comments

In late 2006 I put together a survey on the Jewelers bench to which
many Orchidians and others responded. There were a series of
questions asked, and the answers were revealing, and contributed to
my understanding of the jewelers bench and its functions, supporting
my writing of the The Jewelers Bench, and MJSA/Orchid in Print book.
Some of the specific answers were used in the book, but many served
to buttress my arguments, or show me things I had not thought about.
The answers were illuminating and, through their repetition of
points they reinforced certain themes that are universal, and vital
to the working jeweler and goldsmith. This article is then a
compilation of these comments…

More articles on Bench Design


#4

Hi Ken

Your bench depends on what you do at the bench. I have different
benches for different tasks.

My main point for a bench is ALL tools should be within arms length,
WITHOUT STRETCHING TO GET.

The best all round bench I have seen was my teacher’s Walraven van
Heeckeren (google for tour of his workshop) It was made from three
railway sleepers bolted together with the cut out carved out.

Legs were 4 x 4 inset into the railway sleepers.

Hit this bench as hard as you can and it would not move.

Richard
Xtines Jewels


#5
My main point for a bench is ALL tools should be within arms
length, WITHOUT STRETCHING TO GET. 

I have to disagree.

I used to have a (main) bench wherein everything was nearby, but as
I got older and fatter I realized that I needed to get up and walk
around so I made my new shop so that I had to walk across the room
to do those things that I used to do sitting at my bench. I now have
a separate desk for soldering, a polishing station across the room,
etc.

Paf Dvorak


#6

I would strongly agree with Paf Dvorak’s statement on why you should
NOT have everything in easy reach! Yes, it saves time. but it does
NOT save your body, which is - lets face it - your most important
tool!

Arranging your studio with a work flow that works AND gets you
moving regularly does help!

Same with a bench. make sure you build in reasons to shift position
and periodically get up.

My studio has “stations” all over so that I regularly move…

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
bethwicker.com


#7

Thanks for the reply. Wow that was a massive bench your mentor had.
I agree that having a solid bench with everything within reach, vital
to the setup. My top is not as hefty, being 3", but still it will be
very solid on 3 x 3 legs. I now need, which I asked for in my post,
some design dimensions. I’ve looked at all the references and “cut
and pasted” what I could, but I still would like some input,
especially on the two areas I posted on, cut-out dimensions and
drawer configuration. Looking for what most feel works best.

Thanks again

KJ


#8

Thanks for the heads up on the references. I looked through them
all, noting specific design areas and adapting them to my needs. In
my post, what I asked for, were specific measurements and
configurations. So if anyone can address those two issues I would be
very thankful.

KJ


#9

I too recently built my own bench. I am an amateur jeweler that’s
just starting out, so keep that in mind. My approach was to make a
bench that is very overbuilt, solid, efficient, and able to store my
valuables securely away from thieving hands. Since I would rather
work with metal than wood I decided to make this bench with as much
metal as I could, and that meant a lot of it.

Here are the specs:

width 56"
depth 24"
height 38" (i’m tall)
sweeps drawer 37’ x24" with 2" high sides (I like a lot of leg room)

The right hand drawer cabinet is a hang-on Kennedy toolbox (most
expensive part of the bench), and serves as my precious metal and
stone storage center (as well as tools), that is lockable and much
more secure than wooden drawers.

top railing = 3x4" 1/4" steel angle - this keeps everything together
with legs bolted to it legs and box frame for toolbox = 2" x 1/8" wall
square steel tubing wood top = 2" thick reclaimed maple bowling alley
finished with tung oil and wax sweeps drawer = 1/2" plywood

Do note: Since the pictures where taken the sweeps drawer has been
lowered 4". Which is very easy to do with the steel construction -
just drill and tap two new holes on either side for the slides and
reposition. I have also added a task light and GRS bench pin.

Since no bench is ever complete here are my planned mods:

  • add another light or two (I like a lot of light)
  • add at least one more drawer above the single sweeps drawer
  • line the sweeps drawer (currently just painted) with cork or other
    suitable material
  • integrated pliers rack (no definite plans yet)
  • hammer rack
  • add at least one outlet with extension cord

This bench separates into four main pieces:

  1. toolbox and box frame (bolted together)
  2. left hand legs
  3. top steel angle frame
  4. wood top

This makes the bench actually transportable. An essential feature as
a bench built like this weighs over 150 lbs (the wood top alone is
50+lbs).

I hope this helps. If you have any questions regarding how I built
this bench or certain dimensions please don’t hesitate to ask.

  • Kaleb -

#10

Hi Richard, And what a tour it is! Complete with shop cat.

Cheers,
Karen


#11

Thanks Pat, but I will not have that big of an area due to
limitation set by my wife. My concept is to have the main bench and
the the other machines on tables set in a semicircle around me. I
would turn/wheel around to access them.

KJ


#12

I just rebuilt my shop opening it up to accommodate new lapidary
equipment and a rolling mill. I was tripping over things in the old
shop. Now in my mid 60s, I also included in the plan the need to move
once in a while. The design accomplishes this. Take a look at the
least page of my website. robmeixner.com. Rob


#13

Ones bench depends as the poster said on what one does, and also how
much space you have to put it in.

I came by a very large wooden bench some 10ft long and 4ft wide, on
3 sets of 4in legs.

the top was fron 2in thick pine boards some 12 in wide.

It had been in an aircraft factory with hundreds of 1/8in holes
drilled into the top boards.

I took these off and reversed them so the under side was uppermost,
and it had some ink stamp markings saying Spitfire mk2 !! This is in
the center of my work shop with the following fixed to it.

  1. onto the center leg is my 3rd hand, a 5in leg vice. I work at
    this standing up

  2. some 2 ft away is a smaller 3in.

  3. on one end is bolted a 5 ton(working load) Sweeny Blocksidge
    precision fly press. Worked standing up

  4. on the other end is a similar 2 ton. Worked sitting on a stool On
    the other side of the bench is my brazing area similarly worked at
    sitting down.

with a gas economiser torch, weight controlled for production work.

Gases are propane and oxygen.

Theres also a tig setup for titanium and stainless steel work.

Also in this particular workshop, are,

  1. a 10ft geared draw bench
  2. a 6 ton Worcester production crank press,
  3. my 15 by 30 in Le Blond Royal lathe 1942
  4. a 6ft high Denbeigh pillar drill.
  5. a smaller 3ft ditto.
  6. a 1cwt precision smiths anvil Swedish made
  7. A 2in dia propane burner for non ferrous heating prior to forging.
  8. A 3 foot wide treadle guillotine.
  9. a free standing 2 hp polisher with vacumn.
  10. my powered Durston mill.

Then theres all the hand tools, material storage etc.

In another building theres the drop stamps hyd coining presses and
25 ton crank press.

The minting dies are all stored inside the house, as there the most
valuable pieces of tooling.

More than enough to keep me busy.

Ted.


#14

I have a work table 80x24 inches that I got from a shop that I had my
studio in. A solid 2 inch bowling alley lane top, two sets of 4x4
cross braced legs that were attached to the top with 1 1/2 inch
brackets, no bracing between the pairs of legs. It reminded me of
being under sail on choppy seas when ever I drew wire, or used the
rolling mill. I would have gladly tossed the person who built the
table overboard.

One day I took it apart, added a shelf and upright boards between the
legs, and applied a bit of Gorilla glue to all the connecting
surfaces. I put the little brackets back on with their 1 inch screws
for decorative effect…

When you build your bench, cross brace it. A bit of Gorilla glue
doesn’t hurt…


#15

Hi need to clear up my post on benches,

I agree with Paf I have multiple work stations I meant that at each
one the tools should be within easy reach.

Paf’s workshop sounds like mine and really it is the way to go if
you have the space.

Richard
Xtines Jewels


#16

When I finally moved to my new house, I had the rare chance to
custom-build my own studio. I took the entire basement and made it
into my studio. 40 ft long, 20 ft wide, and assorted stations
scattered all over the room. All the workbenches are to my height,
the way I needed them to be. Separate room for buffing machine,
bathroom just for the basement, large sink with tumbling machine next
to it. My personal bench is dead center, soldering station is at one
end and computer/office is at other end. My only regrets is that I
have no windows, and that I didn’t put a sink at my soldering
station. There’s a 40 foot walk from soldering station to sink. That
is something I have to build in for my next dream studio.

At least my studio makes you run around from station to station. I
can’t sit still for long periods - my leg and back does not let me.

Joy


#17

Sorry if someone already mentioned this. I have not been reading all
the posts lately.

The best thing for budgets or hobbyists is the "frankenbench"
method. Credit to the person who owns the idea and website. I think
he’s an instructor in California. You find a solid wood old desk.
The large ones with 2 inch thick tops. (very hard to find now). You
simply remove the top, thenraise the height by adding wood risers
that blend with the outline of the desk. Then you simply screw and
brace the top back on. If you properly brace these risers and
customize the belly hole to your requirements (and customize the
exact height you want,) Your bench will be better than any newly
manufactured one. (if you were lucky to find an old solid oak desk
to use) If you are handy, it’s the best money saving tool you can
DIY in the jewelry trade that I know of.

I did this during the summer last year and it’s awesome. 2,000 bucks
couldnot have found me a new solid oak bench like the one I have now
that is equally solid and heavy. They sure don’t build desks like
they did 60 yearsago.

I had to write this on my iPad gmail so forgive the glitch tat will
mess up my letter spacing.

Rick Powell


#18

Thanks for the bracing tip. I did draw plans having all legs braced
and paneled to prevent racking and I’ve got a gallon of wood glue
waiting.

KJ


#19

Thanks for the specific dimensions/measurements. Don’t use cork for
the sweeps drawer, you need to “sweep” the material to collect it.
Your filings will get caught in the cork and many years later you’ll
need to burn the cork to recover the ton of gold. A coat of poly or
since you like metal, construct an aluminum tray. would be much
easier surfaces to sweep.

KJ


#20

I like that “Frankenbench”. I have essentially made three or maybe
four of these through the years. I have given away a couple to
apprentices that have worked for me over the years. It started with
my simply being my recycle self. But then I lucked out when the
surveyor that my wife worked for, for a time, threw away some long
metal shelves that were made for maps. I had a local woodworker make
some drawers that fit into the shelves properly and brazed some
pieces of angle iron to the sides, allowing me to screw this whole
assembly up under the desk. That way when I did my semi-circular cut
out, the drawers pulled out to catch my fillings. The bottom drawer
being far enough below the desk to allow me to do my sawing above it.
I made several of these units so I could make a new jewelers bench
whenever I found a desk worth re-designing. To get the right height,
I made long blocks that I just lifted the desk onto. Even the more
modern desks can work given a little out of the box thinking. My
current bench (last 20 years) had an extension to the left at a right
angle to the main desk, with a filing drawer and another surface to
put upcoming design materials on, to plan ahead. Under this I used an
old cabinet that I beefed the top up on, and added casters to the
bottom so I can roll it out for a small pounding station. The desk
was purchased from Salvation Army, is solid walnut with a Formica
laminated top about 2" thick. All the drawers work, and even with
the cutout it is still attractive. I have about 40.00 in it, not
counting time. Thomas III