Building the Perfect Studio

Hi, Could anybody out there please point me to a place to find a
layout plan for the “perfect” studio? I am looking into remodeling a
1 car garage over time, and I would like to do it right. I know I
need a vented area for soldering, pickling, etc, but what is the most
efficient way to set up your bench, buffing, and soldering/casting
areas? I am also looking into piping my oxy, and propane in from
outside. Hopefully one day I can do this full time, and I would hate
to realize then that I should have designed my studio differently.
Thanks again for all your help. Eric

Eric, I really believe that no one can tell you how to design the
"perfect" studio – because there is no such thing. I find that as I
progress toward different things in my work, I rearrange my studio
periodically to accommodate that progress. Also, I’ve found that
there are some things I arrange differently than others because I’ve
found that I work better that way. So you kind of have to work for a
while, then see if you’re happy with it. If not, then rearrange a
bit. I’ve even found that some projects encourage me to move things
around to improve productivity.

Since you’re going to be piping your gas in from outside (a wise
move), that ties down your soldering area and ventilation, so you
won’t be rearranging that aspect of it. Your sink will also be a
pain to move, since you’ll have a drain to consider. Other than
that, everything else should be “fair game” and pretty moveable.

If I remember, there’s a “studio setup” diagram in the back of Tim
McCreight’s “metalsmithing” book (the spiral one), but I don’t have
it accessible at the moment to double-check. Could be a good
starting place.

Have fun!
Karen Goeller

Eric, As much as I appreciate your, do it right the first time
attitude, I must admit it would take a lot of the fun out of having
a shop. A studio is an ever evolving hopefully growing entity.
Unless you plan on doing the exact same thing over and over you will
eventually need new tools and new work spaces. Besides rearranging a
shop can be an excellent form of procrastination when a big deadline
is looming. But if you insist on trying it your way here are some

  1. Start with a solid smooth level floor. Seal all cracks and make
    it a solid even color. You are going to drop many small items. This
    will make finding things much easier

  2. Bring in plenty of electricity. Most garages operate on one
    circuit. The amount of energy used by a bunch of a shop equipment
    going at once can easily overload a circuit. I have at least twenty
    six pieces of equipment plugged in at my shop and this does not
    include my show room, office or photo setup.

3)Put in plenty of lights. Three sets of four fluorescent bulbs
would be a good start for a one car garage.

  1. Make sure you have a sink. Plumbing is expensive but lugging
    water from inside gets old real quick and doing jewelry work at a
    kitchen sink can create health hazards. It can also create upset
    spousal hazards.

5)Do not spend too much on cabinets and other construction material.
The cheap cabinets available through hardware stores are clean
looking easy to assemble and install. Plus if you decide you should
have designed your studio differently they are easy to rearrange and
cheap enough to just discard. Use the money you saved to buy top
quality tools.

  1. If you pipe in your gas and oxygen have shut off valves in the
    work area.

These are just some basic tips for shop design that are easier and
cheaper to do before than after the shop is up and running. I hope
they help. I could go on and on but I would just be describing what
my idea of the perfect shop layout is. What you need to do is stop
worrying about making the perfect shop, relax and start making
jewelry. Your shop will grow around you.

John Sholl
J.F.Sholl Fine Jewelry
Littleton, CO

If you have the opportunity to work in a studio and trace your
movements, you might want to do a “string test”. Take a large ball
of string and tape. As you move from place to place unroll the tape,
stick it down at the places you work or pick up equipment from -
number each time you set it the tape down. When finished look it
over, see how many times you’ve crossed the strings and gone back and
forth. Try to set it up so that they don’t cross over. They can go
back and forth in a zigzag but should not cross over - that’s wasted

if you can’t do that flowchart out the process and label the major
stations _ sink, bench, torch etc. - try to think through to avoid
excess crossing - think of the old train galley or three point kitchen