I, too, need a bench. I am considering having one made by a
friend who is an excellent carpenter. Does anyone know where I can
access a set of plans for a bench?
I don't have plans but I'll share my approach to building one's own
jeweler's bench that might help.
Firstly, let me say I find many of the commercially offered benches
to be good value. If a well-built solid wood traditional bench is
what you want; lots of drawers, cutout with trays, frame and panel
construction, then consider a full-featured bench from Otto Frei.
Yes, it's a chunk of cash up front but if you amortize its worth to
you over a couple decades or so, I doubt there's a better deal.
I wanted to try something different (and no doubt idiosyncratic) and
for not a lot of money, so I built a very simply constructed bench
from solid oak cut-offs from the scrap bin of a local lumber
supplier. My total cost for wood was around twenty to twenty-five
dollars. The threaded rods and nuts from the local Home Depot added
another ten, as I recall. I designed it around the top, a big 20" by
44" plank of solid red oak about 2 1/2" thick, cheap because of two
knots in the underside. The idea was to make a rock solid and stable
structure that fit me and my needs and allow for easy changes and
The incredibly strong truss rod construction, steel rods running
through grooves in the legs and stretchers, allowed me flexibility in
height; you can easily shorten the legs and rods or add longer ones.
I shortened my bench height 6" after buying my microscope. Also, only
butt joints are needed; no complicated mortises and tenons and only
rudimentary tools. In fact, you could have the pieces milled and cut
to length. Then you'd need only to bore a few holes, hacksaw a few
rods, and tighten the nuts.
I wanted the stretchers (the cross members between the legs) and the
top edge to support six GRS mounting plates, and I wanted a till (or
bin) between the stretchers to hold larger and heaver attachments out
of my way but in easy reach. In addition to my Benchmate and
engraver's block, I make all manner of things to attach to the GRS
plates: shelves, small kiln controllers for fusing/granulation and
enameling, a sweeps tray, and so on. The only thing I plan to add
anytime soon is a riser with a few shallow drawers and a pliers rack.
More scraps and 'shorts' from my slowly dwindling lumber pile.
As I've built most of my shop furniture using this technique (truss
rods and compression members), from my large joiner's bench (which
nicely holds my rolling mill and drawbench), to my anvil stand, to
the small but sturdy walnut & maple repousse bench, I strongly
recommend anyone with the skills, tools, and time to give it a shot.
Or if, like Donna, you know someone that can undertake it for you,
draft your own requirements for space, ergonomics and other features,
rather than using a one-size-fits-everyone plan, have them make a cut
list and just do it. It's just wood. It doesn't have to be perfect,
but you'll get likely something very close to what you want and need.
It's not rocket surgery.
Here's two pics of the jeweler's bench and one earlier long shot of
my atelier before shortening the legs, dropping it from collarbone to
Anyway, that's what works for me. Hope it encourages someone else.
David in Florida