Buying a new bench

Hello All:

I am ready to spend $700+ (shipping $71) American on a new bench
with lots of drawers from Stuller. Number 13-0434 CUSTOM DELUXE
WORKBENCH 16 drawers 2 drop trays. The only problem with this one is
that I think there is only about 24 inches of space for you leg room
and I am a big guy.

Or stuller number 13-0438 PREMIER WORKBENCH, 9 DRAWERs 2 drop trays.
This one seems just perfect

I was hoping that someone out there could recommend a good bench

Michael R. Mathews, Sr.

You might consider having a bench made you could probably find a
furniture maker to do it for you I am having a mahogny bench built
right now by a furniture maker I am doing some trade for it but I
will have about 1000 bucks into it which doesnt seem terrible since
I sit at it all day everyday. It will be a hundred times nicer than
what you can buy and I am going to make alll the drawer handles and
stuff for it out of silver plus it will have like 20 drawers on it
maybe even a granite top not sure yet.


Take a look at the benches Progressive Machine Tools offers.

James McMurra

   I was hoping that someone out there could recommend a good
bench manufacturer. 

Everyone’s taste varies, and I may not be the one to talk. My bench
at work is the hacked together rickety construction of pine boards
and masonite top built into the shop long before i got hired there,
and the one I have in my home shop is one I build in my livingroom
with a portable saw, router, and drill, no larger fixed tools, from
plywood, way back in '76 while in school. Not well made or designed,
but sturdy, and with lots and lots of drawers, plus is long, being
based on a sheet o 3/4 inch birch plywood cut lengthwise and the two
halves glued together. So the bench is 24 inches deep and 8 feet
long. Lets were just steel hardware store workbench legs. but it’s
held up for quite a while, and through many moves.

But were I actually going to spend some serious cash on a new
professional built bench, I don’t think I’d look much further than
the fancy ones Frei and Borel sells. Those are built like truely
fine furniture, solid as a brick, smooth operating drawers and stuff,
and they can customize it in just about any way you wish, if you want
differences from their standard models. Somehow the mere idea of a
really well made, solid walnut workbench just makes me start to
slightly drool… (though the oak is probably more durable…)

Peter Rowe

Why not make a U shaped frame with a couple of 4x4’s to put under
the legs? Not only will it give you 3 inches more of leg room, it
makes the bench more solid.

Judy Shaw

I highly recommend making it yourself, or having it made for you.

I don’t like traditional jeweler’s benches because I hate to have
stuff crowded around my legs. I bought four, very sturdy tall
industrial table legs. Then, I found a slightly dented piece of
butcher’s block at an auction. First, I bolted the legs to the
butcher block, threw on two coats of polyurethane. Then, I added a
sliding drawer for bench shavings by using parts from a kitchen
cabinet rescued from the dump. I have the prettiest, sturdiest,
most functional bench I have ever had. The whole thing cost me
around $60.00 in parts and supplies, plus 2 hrs in labor.

I bet a friend, or student from a nearby college would put something
similar together for you for under $300.00.

Troy Hines


Contact Otto Frei about a bench. They will build it anyway you want.
If you want 36" of leg space they will do it. They have a vendor
that makes them to order. I got a new bech from them on Moday and I
am just thrilled with it. They are not cheap but then again this
bench will be here long after I have departed this earth and I
looking to put 40 years on that bench. There is no partical board
in these benches. Ask Stuller if there is any partical board used in
the construction. The Stuller says that it has a 3/4" top. The Otto
bench has a 2" soild butcher block maple or oak top with a built in
anvil plate in front of the bench pin. I got mine with the GRS
system already installed. The draws have roller slides so you don’t
end up pulling the face of the drawer off trying to open that heavy
drawer full of mandrels. Any concept you have of how a bench is
built by others you have worked at, throw that away. Everything is
bigger, thicker and heavier. My friend and I refer to this bench as
the “Bench of the Gods”.

On the Progressive Tool jeweler benches, they are full of partical
board. I look at them when I was shopping for a new bench. My old
one was a good example of why not to buy partial board. After having
to dismantle everything to bring in a new bench I just don’t want to
have to do that again.

You might also look at Moderna Inc. But they
have some BS thing that you have to sign up and get a password. I
was not impressed with what they had to offerbut I think they do the
custom benches. An agent of that company get into a nasty one here
on Orchid over a busted bench.

Check out Otto Frei at or 800-772-3456 and
ask for Amber.

I am not employed by Otto Frei or have any other connections. I am
just a very happy customer that love his new bench!!!

Rodney Carroll
RC Gems

Hi Michael

I just treated myself to the Olympic Workbench from Otto Frei and I
love it but here are the two things that I would change if I could.
First, the vertical leg room is not enough. Even with no drawers
down the sides I feel cramped and end up working on the pull out
shelf. I don’t think for long periods, drawers on both sides will be
enough wiggle room. More improtantly tho, is that with the drawers
at the top, I can’t attach my benchmate and still have the top center
drawer function. If you use a bench mate, or any attachment that
hangs down slightly you might want to check it out first.

And on the subject, does anyone have a good idea about mounting a
benchmate besides putting a new top on top of my beauttiful new top?

Betty Belmonte (who decided not to go to Tucson this year and is so
so sorry)

Hello All:

Thanks for the replies on my bench buying quest. The bench I am
using now is the $300 model that you can get anywhere. 1 drop pan
and 3 drawers, pressboard top that is after the many years of use
very uneven . I have it sitting atop of a 4X4 and 2 2X4s. That’s
raised about 7 inches total. Any bench I buy is going to require a
height adjustment unless I have it custom made. I am not really able
to spend the bucks to have one built. Rio Grande has a very nice
solid Oak #113-410 for $975.00 + shipping. Anyone using that one?
Seems to have ample leg room between the 2 columns of drawers. I
want a larger bench top because I am interested in the “Meiji
Microscope” with the “GRS acrobat stand”

Anyone using that scope?

Michael R. Mathews, Sr.

    Take a look at the benches Progressive Machine Tools offers. 

I think he means Progress Machine and Tool Corp.

I bought my bench from them. I’m quite happy with it. It’s dark
wood, incredibly heavy and sturdy. It was a present to me for a
milestone birthday.

Came on a truck, fully assembled!

It is party particle board. The top is light blue, which is easy on
the eyes. One of my favorite features is it has this pull out work
surface – so when every other surface is covered, you can just pull
out this flat surface!

I’ve purchased other things from them as well and have been pleased
with everything. They also have a new, improved website, which is

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

I would have to ditto what Rodney Carroll said about benches. Years
ago I had a quality bench from Rio Grande - probably the best
workbench I’ve ever worked on, but I didn’t own it. Then I built my
own bench, which was actually not too bad. But then about 4 years
ago I bought the Frei bench - the big one, two banks of drawers, and
I went for the oak. It’s not a perfect bench to me in some of the
details - those strange burr holders on the insides of the top
drawers just have to go - but you have to settle into any new bench.
Overall, though, it is just top quality - fine wood, precision
joinery, solid as solid can be - a bench to last, literally, a
lifetime… A last thought - if you want a $350 bench (the one I
built was like $100 in materials) get a $350 bench. If you’re
looking at a pro bench with storage and all, it’s not going to be
cheap (you knew that), so don’t worry so much about shaving $50 off
and getting the wrong bench. You’re going to get real intimately
acquainted with it over the years - do it right…

Hi Mike I use a bauch and lomb scope and it is great for wax carving
alothough it does make me go real slow and you become addidcted to
it I made the stand from parts and pieces I collected and some that
I built with a microscope you can do amazing things but it will slow
you down by at least half because you spend so much time making
everything perfect even though it is perfct to the naked eye. My son
who just turned five calls it a see bigger.


I had one of Rio’s benches, they are made in the southwest, and it
swelled up a bit when it got within a block of the Atlantic ocean. I
sold it to one of my studio-mates, it is now a few feet away. Solid
bench except for its initial exposure to moisture. My father made me
two benches in the 80’s that are more custom and have served me well.
I also have a couple BN60 benches- the very simple maple top metal
leg benches- very stable. The Meiji you want is the EMZ with a .5
diopter lens to increase the working distance. Aging eyes need its
help. Great scope, I found one on Ebay to have at home in my
CNC/office workspace. I saved about $800 over list price. My first
one was purchased from GRS- worth every penny.

Rick Hamilton

    And on the subject, does anyone have a good idea about
mounting a benchmate besides putting a new top on top of my
beauttiful new top? 

Betty, I don’t have the Olympic bench, but judging from the photos,
the dovetailed mount that holds the BenchMate system shouldn’t
interfere with the top center drawer when the BenchMate’s
attachments aren’t in place. Just put the mounting plate over the
bench pin hole and use the bench pin that comes with the BenchMate.
That way, you could remove whatever attachment is in it to open the
drawer. The main drawback will be that you probably won’t be able to
use that nice layout table that is just under the bench pin hole if
the mounting plate covers it.

James in SoFl

Hi Betty,

   And on the subject, does anyone have a good idea about mounting
a benchmate besides putting a new top on top of my beauttiful new

I don’t know how thick your bench top is, but if it’s 1 1/2 - 2"
thick, the mounting block for the Benchmate can be attached to the
front edge of it.

The top on my bench is 1 1/2" thick & mounting the block flush with
the top on the front edge of the bench top works well. I don’t have
any drawers in the center of bench, just a pullout work tray.


Hi Michael,

Do what I (and other tall people) have done-- bolt some 2x4s or 4x4s
to the bottom of the bench legs. This provides enough room for my
long legs under the sweeps drawer.

Hope this helps,

What I learned today: Never steam a nasty watch and yawn at the same
time. Blecch.


And on the subject, does anyone have a good idea about mounting a
benchmate besides putting a new top on top of my beauttiful new

GRS makes a mounting adaptor plate, for thinner bench tops, or
particle board tops. It screws to the top surface and hangs over the
edge. I have been able to use this system on bench tops that were far
weaker that a 2 1/2" oak top, and I can guarantee that you cannot
push down hard enough to pull the screws out of the mounting plate.
It also gives you a nice surface of steel just above your bench pin.
It is not as hard as a steel bench block, but surely harder than a
wood or particle board top. I have found it to be VERY useful.

Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

On the subject of scopes for wax carving, etc., I am very lucky to
have at my disposal an old (c. 1960) dissecting scope that belonged
to my husband’s undergraduate advisor, Frank Young. It is an American
Optical scope, 10x-45x zoom. At lower magnifications, it’s an
incredible aid in carving fine details into wax and in improving the
finish of waxes by correcting all the tiny flaws that the Optivisor
doesn’t show. The depth of field at the lower magnifications is quite
good; there’s a little bit of room to play with before losing focus,
and the stereoscopic eyepieces make it very comfortable to work with.
(I agree, Kevin, it is really addictive!)

The higher powers, past 30x or so, are too close-up for wax carving,
but come in wonderfully handy for extracting the broken tips of very
teeny drill bits (or the occasional incredibly annoying invisible
splinter). And, of course, all the magnifications are very helpful
for sorting and identifying insects :slight_smile:

A good range of scopes like this can be seen at:

They carry stereo microscopes starting at a very affordable $327.00,
as well as many other tools and supplies that can be co-opted for
jewelry making. I think a scope like this will pay for itself with
the first wax it helps you to carve.

[Usual disclaimers]

Happy shopping,
Jessee Smith

I bought a bench from Frei about three yrs agp and it is great. I
found out from them that it is made in Los Angeles Ca, and that I
could pick it up at the factory and save the shipping charges which
were around $100.00 so that is what I did. I live on Torrance Ca and
the bench came in a container os cardboard and it was nocked down. I
assembeled it with little trouble and I have enjoyed it Verry much.

Yours Billy S. Bates

If you live in the La Ares the drop shipment is the way to go.