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Desk into workbench?



As you all may or may not know, I’m still a beginning hobbyist

I just obtained a gynormous old heavy wood desk with two banks of
three drawers on each side, as well as a center drawer.

I’ve been reading various articles about the best way to convert an
old wooden desk into a genuine jeweler’s work bench.

However, I really don’t want to completely desecrate my
father-in-law’s wonderful gift by cutting a half-moon into it.

About the most I had thought of doing to it so far was to drill a
couple of half inch holes at intervals to catch the silver filings
into the center drawer.

Please also keep in mind that I don’t intend to spend all my
crafting time at this particular place. I want to use it for
occasional operations such as crafting bezel and chain, some
gem-setting, and final assembly.

Anyone have advice for helpful half-measures regarding adapting a
desk into a jewelers’s area?

About the most I had thought of doing to it so far was to drill a
couple of half inch holes at intervals to catch the silver filings
into the center drawer. 

The thing about a work bench is one performs work at it. If that work
is metal work, probably you should reconsider using the desk for
anything but paper shuffling. Get (or better, make) a bench for
working on.


I saw a box that acts as a jewellers work bench, sits on the top of
a regular desk. CIA



I have been making jewelry for 35+ years and have never worked at a
bench with a “Half Moon” cut into it. Just never liked them. I use a
bench my Dad made me and it looks like a desk with a huge center
drawer…and side drawers. Just set the desk up where it is
comfortable for you to work at… and go at it. Add a good bench
light, a hook for a Fordom and have fun!

Great Luck! Dan.

Anyone have advice for helpful half-measures regarding adapting a
desk into a jewelers's area? 

Don’t do it. Go all the way. Commit. Cut it up. Make it a



My favorite has always been Brian Meek’s Frankenbench.



Hi Andrew,

A bench peg is essential because it allows the hands to access the
focal work point from the sides and the front. A peg can be clamped
onto the desk without the half moon cut-out. The half moon in effect
brings the front of the peg level with the front edge of the bench
and makes the whole bench more balanced and compact.

I would leave the centre drawer as a drawer. A tray for catching the
filings must be at least 28cm (11") below top of the peg to give
enough space for using the jeweller’s saw and other tools. The tray
needs a low front lip for easy access to the tray. This has a
flow-on effect of knee space under the tray…one of the reasons why
jeweller’s benches are taller than desks.

Look at a bench peg, building in a sliding tray under the middle
drawer, and raising the desk on blocks of wood.

Cheers, Alastair


What you need is the Frankenbench guide, by Brian Meek, who posts on
this mailing list.


I would suggest if you do not want to do too much subtraction from
the desk, your first step is to make it at the very least bench pin,
or bench mate ready. Any step towards silversmithing requires a bench
pin type tool.

If you want to preserve the desk, I would also not suggest the holes
in the top. but rather affix an alternate top onto the desk that over
hangs with a nice u cut. Utilizing this second top both protects the
integrity of the desk later down the road and allows you to do just
about anything to it. Some smiths use an apron technique to catch
their filings instead of a drawer, this may be more useful than holes
in the top of your desk if you are trying to maintain the desk as a
desk. For the apron, you could buy a general leather apron and create
a way to hook the bottom to the bench to form a catch all. There is
an example of it in the Jewelers Bench book that orchid has helped
organize. I purchased it recently and found myself reorganizing

It’s easier to say in the beginning that you are only doing a "few"
tasks at this bench, but the idea of a jewelers bench is to be a
station for your work. Down the road into smithing you might decide
you want more out of your bench and decide that the integrity of the
desk isn’t as important as the usefulness of your space. I’m sure
your father-in-law would understand practicality over sentimentality.

I’ve been a metal smith for almost 4 years and would not do any type
of metal work on a sentimental piece of furniture. Aside from that,
suggestions might include storage and orginization, think vertically
the space above your bench allows for shelving, hooks for hanging,
and lighting. inside your drawers small trays and dividers will be
best for optimizing the 6-7 spaces you have.

Hope this helps a bit

Emily Marquis
Rochester Institute of Technology


The Frankenbench is one of the most famous desk into bench’s made.
Perhaps it’ll give you some inspiration. You can find it at