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Bench pin usage


I’m in the early stages of fabricating an eternity ring as presented
in Leonid’s DVD, and I commented in an off-list email to an Orchid
friend that not only did I learn a new fabrication technique from the
DVD, but that I learned some things just by seeing how Leonid used
his bench pin.

My only exposure to others at work has been through a few
instructional DVDs and the college classes I take, and all we have
there are thin bolt-to-the-table bench pins owned by each student,
and a few school-supplied bench pins no one is going to modify.

Charles Lewton-Brain put together a great book on Jewelers’
workbenches that gives easy visual access to scores of different
layouts from all around the world. I wish there was some way a book
or DVD could be compiled showing how a number of jewelers use their
bench pins. Maybe there would be a lot of repetition of ideas, but I
suspect there are a number of useful things to be learned that simply
go unmentioned from lack of exposure.

A collection of still photos of bench pins and some comments might
be of some use, but short video clips of work being done would be
even better. Can anyone think of a practical way to do this? Could
segments of benchtube videos be compiled? Or a list of references
(see benchtube-name about 40 seconds in…)

This seems like a valuable means of teaching / learning that is
hidden from sight.

Neil A.



I love this idea. I just got a new jeweler’s bench and the pin is
nothing more than a block. I understand I need to shape it but would
love to get an idea of how most people use theirs before taking saw
to wood. At school, the bench pin was just v-notched. While I found
it okay to use, it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d imagined it would be.
I have seen a picture of one bench pin that had a half circle cut on
the right side. Being a “righty” it looked like it might work for
some on the things I might want to saw. But I’m in no way an expert
and would really love to see what and how others use their bench pins
to find the best configuration for mine… As I said… Before I put
saw to wood.

MikiCat Designs



If you look at page 39, you’ll find my bench shown and listed. I
rest my ring clamp against the bench-pin. I get full support of the
pin as I set my items…you must make darn sure the bench-pin does
not move at all, all through your time at the pin. The pin must be a
part of the solid bench, not acting as n accessory.

The “open section” of the pin still must allow movement for rotating
the ring clamp. Some times during the setting process, I use the
b-pin for support of a claw while tightening. This way one claw is
moving, and the other claw is totally resting against the side of the

I would even make a small recess in the side of the b-pin just for
this securing application.

Hope that this helps you…Gerry!


This reminds me… I have two bench pins, each configured
differently. It’s not easy to swap them out quickly and have them be
secure. What is recommended?

you must make darn sure the bench-pin does not move at all, all
through your time at the pin. The pin must be a part of the solid
bench, not acting as n accessory. 

Since my DVD started this subject, I guess I should explain my
bench-pin technique.

While, I fully understand Gerry’s view on pin been rock solid, I do
not subscribe to that school of thought. Gerry is a setter and from
setter’s point of view pin must be rock solid. If you raising a bead
and pin moves, kiss good bye to your stone and trip to a hospital is
likely. But in general goldsmithing pin instead of been just a
support, can become more than that.

Those who saw my DVD ( one can get more on my website )
know that I do most of my work simply holding things in my fingers. I
use holding devices, but only when absolutely necessary. If things
are too rigid, it is so easy to saw too deep, or to file off too much
metal, and etc. Things must have some give back, so If lean too
heavily with my file, fingers would simply yield slightly to
compensate for the error in judgement.

My use of pin is reflective of that philosophy. I have a slot, in
front of my bench, where pin is inserted. The slot is relatively
large to allow for easy insertion and removal. The tight fit between
pin and the bench is achieved by using a leather wrapper around the
tong. For setting, I drive it deeper to have solid support, and for
general use I pull it out slightly, just to have some give. Leather
provides cushioning and also muffles the noise.

Another point to mention is that I use top of the bench mainly as a
storage area. Most of the work is done on the pin. Some do most of
the work on top of the bench, so technique will be different of

Leonid Surpin



This would be a great Idea just like “stand up and take a picture of
you bench” was. Our bench pins are so modified by each of us it would
be interesting to see what you all have done. I have made one bench
pin out of flat heavy sheet of brass to do piercing and wax filing.
Drilled holes for earrings and on and on… It would be fun to see
what this very important part of our bench is modified by each of us.




This reminds me... I have two bench pins, each configured
differently. It's not easy to swap them out quickly and have them
be secure. What is recommended? 

if you are switching bench-pegs…I suggest a “GRS” interchangeable
pin apparatus. It only takes seconds to change a bench-pin. I use
them all the time in my classes. TOTALLY SECURE! me…:)…



I’ve always wondered why bench pins are shown in the tool catalogs
upside-down and wonder if other jewelers actually use them that way.



“so we agree to disagree” !!!..:slight_smile: I am answering from my own point of
view and experience. We here are like 12 jurors in a court case and
24 possible answers to the same question.

Each person has his/her own interpretation based on that fact. When I
raise any beads or even bright-cutting, a very solid pin is so-o
critical in that exercise, it would futile to think otherwise my
point of view!!..Round Two after this commercial…LOL…Gerry!


The Bench Pin. A really vital piece of equipment if you want to be
able to file or saw, because you need to have an “extension” off the
workbench to enable one’s hands to get around the object you’re
working on, and allow space for the filing, sawing, and related
processes. With a sturdy bench pin in place, at the correct heighth,
you can put the maximum force with your hands and arms, have the
work close to the face without bending over too far, and your hand
tools have room to work effectively. As you sit at your workbench,
your feet on the floor, you form a tripod, a very strong support for
the work being done against the bench pin.

My ideal is a securely mounted bench pin, which can be removed, but
when mounted, doesn’t move. I like to swap out my bench pins,
depending on whether I’m doing piercework, stonesetting, filing, etc.

I always need to modify a bench pin before it works well for me. I
have to shape the back end to fit tight into the mounting bracket,
saw a tapered slot ( for sawing) or saw a curve in the front to
accommodate a ring clamp. For some reason, the wooden bench pins that
come with the mounting bracket never fit, and I have to make wooden
shims, saw off part of the bench pin, or work on it with my belt
sander to get the correct fit.

The mounting bracket comes with wimpy short screws, which won’t hold
the bench pin and bracket solidly enough for my purposes. I have to
drill out an re-countersink the mounting holes in the bracket, to fit
two #10 2 1/2 in. flat-head wood screws. Now when those are screwed
into my workbench, they will make it sturdy!

My whole point here is about the need to modify tools to do what we
want them to. Very few tools work “out of the box” the way we want
them to. Never be afraid to imagine how the tool you have could work
better for you. Make your tools better, sturdier, more “ergonomic”,
more comfortable.

Jay Whaley


It would definitely be interesting to see how other folks use their
bench pins. When I bought my jeweller’s bench (which has a hardwood
bench pin whose tongue fits into a slot just under the top of the
bench), I didn’t have a clue how to use a bench pin, not having had
any classes, and so it went unused for a few months. I can’t
remember what I was doing, which made me fit it one day. Perhaps saw
piercing silver. It didn’t have a “V” cutout in it, so after a while
of struggling with it, I sawed a V-shaped notch into it. I pretty
much only use it for sawing and filing at the moment, which is very
regularly. My stone setting gets done in my vice with thermoplastic,
so that I have both hands free to wield tools, rather than on my
bench pin using a ring clamp for example, as I don’t have enough
wrist/hand strength to set that way.

I’m sure there is plenty more stuff I could use my bench pin for, so
I’m reading this thread with interest.


very solid pin is so-o critical in that exercise, it would futile
to think otherwise 

I’d agree that some sort of survey of bench pins could be at least
passingly interesting. Just about everybody would still use them
their own way, I’d guess. I’ve been doing Easter party lately, but
I’ll chip in a couple of things, now…

Yes, tool catalogs show bench pins upside down, or at least I’ve
never known anybody to use them as they show. Square side up
"automatically" squares you to your work, not to mention you can put
parts on top of it as you work. Angle up presents to work to you,
but you have to do everything at an angle. I just hack a narrow
groove into a new on with a hacksaw, sometimes file a 1/2 round
depression on one side with a rasp. They’re cheap, you can do custom
or temporary things as you like.

A diamond setter comes by now and then to ask me to mill a new pin
for them. I get the standard pin and take off the underside of it
till there’s just a 1/2" thick piece sticking forward, and then cut
an arc into that which holds his bench pin. Then he puts his pin
into the arc and his hand will fit under the bench pin…

I don’t saw on mine except for hacking - somebody else mentioned
this today, too. I have a six-inch long piece of 1/8" steel about 3"
wide with a V-cut down the middle mounted to one side. It has a 1/2"
lag screw mounting it which I can loosen, swing the pin towards me
and tighten, and then swing it back when I’m done. I’ts God’s gift
to saw piercing, let me tell you. Some make them out of aluminum,
some use brass. Mine is steel because I can make it in steel, and
because any filings from the pin can be picked up with a magnet.
It’s rock-solid, perfectly flat and perfectly square and it’s like
sawing on a four-lane freeway.

The #1 mistake amateurs make is that of doing battle with themselves
and their work. Don’t file against your fingers, don’t file in
midair, don’t have a rickety bench anyplace. It defeats the entire
purpose of having a bench. Imagine if you got your ladder and
loosened all the screws before you got up on the roof. Unless you
have some certain reason, you want to work away from yourself,
towards the pin, which is the direction of force, which is also the
direction of your greatest control. Working sideways is counter to
every muscle you have, again unless you have good reason to.

Think of it as singing - project forwards. You can tell everything
about a craftsperson by how they use the bench pin - it’s your third
hand. You’ll get real well acquainted with it…


Someone sent me a private email on this subject and gave me
permission to share it. She’s not the only one who talked to me about
using multiple bench pins and I think that’s what I’m going to do.

Dear Michelle, 

I am no longer in the jewelry trade but I still check the
Ganoksin listings from time to time. I do not have a membership
so I cannot post to the forum. 

There's a thread about bench pins and I recognized your name
from previous postings. Here's an idea I used on my bench the
last time I was ready to change pins. Some of the time, I like my
bench without a pin, sometimes with a tapered pin, and sometimes
with other shapes. The bench is my father's watchmaker's model so
it has no provision for attaching a pin for heavy use. 

I made a couple different designs using some hard wood I had on
hand. For stability, they can be made so they overlap the front
edge of the bench. About 3/4 of the way back on each, I drilled a
half inch hole. In the bench top, I drilled the same hole so I
could bolt the pin in place. On the underside of the bench top, I
installed a "T-Nut". This piece of hardware has a flange that
attaches to the underside of the bench top to hold the nut in
place. On the top of the bench, I reamed out the hole to a
conical shape. 

When I want one of the pins in place, I put it over the hole and
bolt it down with a round topped bolt that is cut off to the
right length so it doesn't extend into the top drawer. When I
want my bench without a pin, I unscrew the bolt, remove the pin
and fill in the hole in the bench top with a flat head bolt with
a taper that fits the hole. The bench is then perfectly flat and
has no hole for parts and stones to drop through. Completely
changing the nature of the pin or bench takes a few seconds. 

If you think this idea should be shared on the forum, please go
ahead and use it. 

Thanks for the interesting ideas you have posted.


A few years ago someone went round the jewellers in Hockley, which
is the jewelery quarter in Birmingham UK, and gave about a hundred of
them a new bench pin in exchange for their old used one. They then
marked each one with a small metal number and then they were put on
the end of a wire and made into what I can only describe as a
’Christmas Tree’.

This was displayed at the Spring Trade Show. There was a fascinating
selection of shapes, and while I was there looking at it a couple of
lads came up and pointed out some that belonged to jewellers they
knew. I don’t know where it is now, perhaps someone else does, it
does show that they get customised by long usage. I have a hard time
getting my students to treat them as a consumable item.

regards Tim Blades.


You might consider GRS’s mounting plate, part of their BenchMate
system. You mount the plate to your bench and then use their ‘Bench
Pin Kit’.

I have more than one bench pin kit with the bench pin fashioned to
your needs. It’s like a rock, as steady as it gets. It cost a certain
amount, but to me it’s the best. GRS makes very good equipment.



I put saw, etc. to wood as the need arises.

"so we agree to disagree" !!!..:) I am answering from my own point
of view and experience. We here are like 12 jurors in a court case
and 24 possible answers to the same question. 

I think we are in complete agreement. Your view on rock solid pin is
fully justified by what setters required to do. My work simply has
different requirements. That is all.

Leonid Surpin


I use my bench pin for most of my benchwork, the same as Leonid my
bench top is mainly used to store my tools. I also have a slot in my
bench that holds the bench pin. I use the flat side for saw piercing
support and most other work and the sloping side for heavy filing
jobs. I use an old piece of Emory cloth wrapped around the bench pin
tang to secure it in the bench slot, this seems to work fine for me.
My current bench was home made to suit my workshop and has a half
round cut out with the bench pin secured in the centre of the cut
out. I have a vise attached each side of the bench cut out. Like
Leonid I mostly use my hand to hold work against the bench pin, if I
am piercing hollow bowl shapes I will hold the job against the
underside of the bench pin while piercing. I pierce from right to
left across the bench pin, as I am right handed, On the underside of
my bench pin ( the sloping side ) I have filed some grooves
lengthways, these I use when filing points on wires, laying the wires
along the filed groove will hold it steady and stop it bending if the
file catches. The only thing I do to a new bench pin is cutting the
vee in it’s centre, for piercing. Any other shapes will be formed as
and when they are required.

The attachment shows a photo taken last year, of my current

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG


It was explained to me that when the bench pin is inserted parallel
to the floor then it is to be used more for sawing and when it is on
an angle, it is used more for filing. Sometimes that works for me -
sometimes not - it would be interesting to see how others modify and
use theirs.



Rock solid, slice and dice and drill to fit the job at hand. When
it’s consumed I put in a new one but work is difficult and slow
until it gets chopped up. A dear friend with a limited life span.

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing