Thank you, Leda. Before you decide on your bench height, decide on the
height of your chair. Find a height that allows your back to be
straight, with your knees level or slightly lower than your hips.
This will help alleviate the chronic back pain that most jewelers
suffer due to long hours spent in one position. Get your spine
straight, and you can avoid years of pain and discomfort.
Now, consider the bench. If you do a lot of stonesetting or detailed
close-up work, having a bench top that is just below armpit height is
ideal. If you do a lot of chasing, engraving, or hammering, you may
prefer a bench top that is just above the navel. If you are setting
stones under a microscope, as many of us do, you will need to lower
your bench height to accommodate the focal length of the scope.
The radius of the cut-out also depends on what you do at the bench.
The purpose of the cut-out is to allow the end of the bench pin to be
on the same plane as the front of the bench. So, how long is your
bench pin? The GRS Benchmate pin is longer than the pin that you
insert into a slot on the front of your bench top. Also, a taller
bench may require a longer cut-out, so your hands don't bump the top
as you work. Are you drilling a hole in the edge of the top for a
ring mandrel? If so, consider the angle that that the mandrel will be
held at, so you will not always have to adjust your body to work on a
ring. The cut-out on my bench is not an arch, but has a flat back. I
can attach 2 bench pins...
There is really NO correct height that will work for every one and
every job. My advise to someone just starting out is to not get too
attached to your first bench. Don't rush out to purchase the
beautiful oak bench of your dreams. Start with a good quality, sturdy
bench with a decent lap tray. Make it stable, even if you have to
bolt it to the wall. Try making it taller, or shorter. Notice how
your back and neck feel. A commercially made bench, like the one you
see in the catalogs for around $200-$250, is a good place to start.
After a few years, you can always upgrade to a Frei Custom Oak bench,
or a U-shaped,custom-made high-tech Command Center.
And get a new chair, while you're at it...