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Frankenbench Updated?

Hi Guys,

So I built my original Frankenbench about 25 years ago, and it’s
stood me in good stead all these years. I’m the one who has the
plans available on my website, even if I can’t entirely claim to be
the originator.

Lately I’ve gotten into some much more serious woodworking.
Rebuilding 100 year old Oak workbenches and etc, as well as spending
a lot of time at woodworking shows, selling saws. So I’m exposed to
a lot of very high end woodworking. Which makes me ponder whether or
not to build a new Frankenbench. (Mk III)

But instead of a bench designed to be as good as I could make it,
assuming it was cobbled together out of a scrounged desk, this one
will be built from the ground up as a purpose built jeweler’s bench.
Probably pretty arts & crafts looking, even if I may not use oak. (I
like maple, or maybe Cherry.)

I know what features I want in a bench, but I’m curious to see
what features the rest of you think are/should be required.

My list:
Deep half-moon cutout
1.5-2" thick solid wood top.
Leather bench skin, no tray. (no smashed knees when I get up.)
GRS mount
File & plier racks built into the cutout.
Cleared for microscope mount

Two drawer stacks, one on either side, with a bunch of small (1.5")
drawers at the top for files/sundries, getting larger as they go

Anti-roll off grooves around the edges of the top, and probably
rails at the back and sides Somewhere to make a home for my power

One of the things I’m pondering seriously is where/how to
accommodate all the various power and control boxes that we’ve got
for our gear these days. Gravermax, wax pen, micromotor base(s),
plus god knows what else. One of the nice things about the original
Frankenbench design was the big blank spot right under the tabletop,
which made a pretty good spot for that sort of thing, but not quite
big enough for things like the Gravermax.

What all else would you consider to be essential power tooling that
needs to be allowed for in the design?

What things bug you about ‘normal’ benches? What have you always
wished yours had? You can assume this one will be very heavy, and
very solid.


I don’t like having a drawer behind the grs so you have to swing it
up our lift it off to get to the drawer. Also I don’t like having to
reach over the bench and soldering block for things that are on top
in the back. Can you put up a pic of frankenbench 1. I like things on
the sides more now days. Easy to reach with a turn off the chair.


Off the top of my head, as I have not been active since cancer.
Planning to change that now, but that is not the point.

Being height challenged, chair and/or bench height are a forever

Would you consider making the legs adjustable? I’ve several visuals,
perhaps a pump at each leg to raise or lower it, or one where there
are holes into which fit a bump to depress and change positions such
as those in umbrellas, beach type come to mind as very sturdy.
Raising opposing corners should make the other two more easily

Hugs and Thanks for listening.


Hi Brian,

oak worktops may apparently discolour steel tools. During a
conversation elsewhere, I asked how to remove a thin coat of surface
rust on some workshop clearance, and was told to soak the tools in
strong tea - yes, it works! The tannin converts the rust to iron
tannate, which is dark grey, almost black. Tannin is also present in
oak, which could affect the colour of your steel tools.

Best wishes from Bristol

Your plans sound wonderful! I have large bench with one full ban of
drawers, and a slide out shelf over my pan. Wish I had a cutout, and
a skin, but i’ver gotten used to my set up. I keep all of my wax
stuff an another bench, but do all of my layout, fabrication and hand
engraving at my main bench. The Gravermax, power hone, micro motor
base, extra gravers and reference materials all sit on an old
microwave oven utility cart right at my right hand side. Keeps it off
my bench top, but very handy and I don’t have to reach or bendover to
access the controls. So, perhaps an auxiliary pull out cabinet to sit
along side?

Melissa Veres, hand engraver & goldsmith

Hello Brian,

This will be fun! Don’t forget lighting. I love my Dazors - yes,
multiple lamps that can be adjusted to shed illumination where
needed. It would be nicer if they could be mounted overhead, instead
of on the bench. I do have everything on the bench plugged into a
power strip so that all powered items can be shut off easily.

Can’t wait to see your final design.

Judy in Kansas, where some big T-storms crashed through last
night.Complete with tennis ball hail in some areas. Glad for the
rain, though.

Full extension ball bearing slides for any and all drawers.


I put a skirt around the inside of the legs tight to the floor to
make it easier to find the things I dropped.

Also if you box in the sides and back you can put your oil filled
radiator under there, it warms you first before the rest of the

I have an adjustable height saddle seat that goes from 20" up to
27", I have moved my bench height up 6" in the last few years, so
bench pin at breastbone height when I am low and looking down for
soldering. I was going to make the bench adjustable in height using
one of those hydraulic lifting tables, but was not sure how to
maintain the rigidity.


What things bug you about ‘normal’ benches? What have you always
wished yours had? You can assume this one will be very heavy, and
very solid.

This one is for Brian.

I had these pictures lying in a file forever and I finally got off
my lazy rear end and put them in order.

Check out:

Hi Gang,

This is partly just me playing ‘wanna make’, and partly pondering
the ergonomics of a modern jeweler’s setup. For me (and mine) I’m
definitely planning a rock maple top, and probably maple body. I’ve
always liked linen-fold carved panels, and I know someone with a big
CNC router, so I might just shoot him the side panels, and let the
CNC do most of the grunt work of the carving. But the fact that I’m
pondering linen-fold panels should give you some idea of just how
over the top I’m thinking.

One of my favorite quotes is by Napoleon, of all people: “If you set
out to take Vienna. Take Vienna.” One thing that does interest me is
how we now deal with all the power boxes and control units. They’re
entirely new in the history of jewelry, so traditional designs have
no place for them. Which means we need to come up with some sort of
accommodation for them. What is that?

What does a 21st century jeweler’s bench look like? One of the
things I really enjoy about Lee is that he’s not a jeweler. He
doesn’t know how we’ve “always” done it, so he looks at things with
fresh eyes. That’s what I’m trying to do with the bench: take a step
back and look at it. To see if there isn’t a way to make it much

That’s the thing about the saws: the traditional ones were ‘good
enough’ so we all got on with making a living, and didn’t spend 5
minutes thinking about the tool we use all day. The first time I saw
one of the KC saw prototypes, I smacked myself in the head, saying
"duh! Why didn’t I think of thate?" The truss design was so
stupidly obvious. nce I’d seen it.

So that’s what I’m pondering: nevermind making a living for a minute,
take a step back and think about the nature of what the bench is, and
how it’s used, to see if that doesn’t lead me to something

Thanks for all the input folks, it’s definitely given me food for


Maybe a small fan overhead to exhaust. I’m thinking sort of a shelf
extending about two feet out from the back, 24-30" high, couple of
LED strip lights with a small fan.


Shannon here is a link to the original…


The EU types & what you have made works very well with comfort of
working & dust collection.

Thank you,
Enjoy using them,

Hi Hans,

OK, now that I’ve had time to sleep on it, and ponder your
uber-bench in more depth, I have a couple of questions/observations.

From where the buffer/torch setups are, it looks like you park the
thing in the middle of the room, and then sort of orbit around it on
a wheeled chair? So you scoot round the back for soldering, and then
over to the side for buffing, etc?

Given what either version must have weighed, how on earth did you
get it into/out of the Combi? Unless you built yourself a hydraulic
lift for the van? Do you have trouble with fumes from the pickle
corroding things in the bench?

What I find interesting is the difference in mindset: you built
yours so that you use all the sides of the bench, by way of moving
the jeweler around the bench.

Most of the American/British setups I’ve seen are inside out of
around them.

Typically, the bench, and all the other drawers/stands/etc are up
against the walls of a room, and the jeweler has the inside space to
move around in.

Your rig inverts that: the bench (appears to be) in the middle, and
the jeweler takes the outside path around the bench. Which lets you
use all the faces much more efficiently in terms of space. You lose
a little bit in terms of time, for the scooting around, but you gain
a lot in terms of space efficiency, which was the primary goal.


What’s started this for me is my second rebuild of an old oak
workbench. The first was a 100+ year old oak watchmaker’s bench, and
the second is the workbench that went with one of my old instrument
lathes. Looked OK in the pictures…

Turned into a real learning experience.

( Beginnings of the details here: )

I’m actually off to the school shop to put the first coat of sealer
on it now. I figure if I can fix this thing, I can build anything.


OK Hans, you win.

Dear god.

Not exactly what I’d do, but wow…

I’m definitely going to steal your wheel system. I like that.

In fact, I’m pondering how I retrofit it onto the 87 year old bench
I’m working on now, and I just finished getting its wheels on it as
it sits tonight.

I salute your ability to leave no cubic millimeter un-used.


Hi all

What does a 21st century jeweler's bench look like? I used to have
a standard bench till I went down the hall to the gem setters in
the building I had my workshop in. 

Never seen anything like it. It had 2 pieces of 4" by 2" pieces of
wood coming out from the bench for arm rests. With leather as a
catching tray.

I build my benches like this now. With my benchmate front and
centre. I find this better than the half circle cut out.

Get very good support for my arms. This is my filing, sawing and
setting bench. I have another bench for sanding with a massive
perspex bench pin. Also I have a soldering bench in another room with
extraction fan.

I guess we go with what ever our madness suits us.

All the best

Hi Brian,

The side where my oxygen bottle is, is only used for melting.

Soldering is done on my pull out soldering pad.

I sometimes pull it out completely and then solder on my gold tray.

Most handy, that.

I have a little stool where I sit on when I polish in front of the

Getting it into the combi was not difficult.

I had a ‘U’ channel ramp that I pushed it upwards on into the van,
after removing the lights and roller and stuff.

They also doubled up as track guides when I was working on sand at
the beach.

(I had a large canvas sheet on where the bench stood in case
anything dropped.)

I also thought I would have corrosion problems with the acids but
that proved to be wrong.

There is no corrosion on my tools (I am a Virgo) so I am a pain in
the neck about keeping tools clean.

Your rig inverts that: the bench (appears to be) in the middle, and
the jeweler takes the outside path around the bench. Which lets you
use all the faces much more efficiently in terms of space. You lose
a little bit in terms of time, for the scooting around, but you
gain a lot in terms of space efficiency, which was the primary

I built my first workshop in '78 and I had a fixed bench in the
front of the shop, the roller in the middle of the shop and the
polishing in the back of the shop.

I walked 500 miles everyday.

So walking around the bench is no big deal really.

The side opposite to the oxygen side is featureless, so it can be
pushed very close to a wall, so there are actually only three sides
of the bench that are active.

For sure it is not ideal for everybody, but as semi homeless,
wandering type of persons like my wife and I, it works well.

That Ames lathe rebuild looks really interesting,

Kind of project I also could get into

Cheers, Hans

Hey Brian, and Hansreading the thread, I realized without giving it
much thought, I have always used the Hans method of using the
Jewelers bench in the middle and trying to utilize all sides of the
bench, and have done so to almost all 5 of my benches in 2 different
spaces. I find this style to be alot more mobile and a lot more
malleable to whatever your needs change to, making small or large
work, forming metal or carving it, drilling or soldering.

I do not roll around the bench though on a chair, I just have
another chair/stool tucked away to be pulled out for the operation
in motion at that station on the side or opposite side of the bench.

I always got claustrophobic walking into and working in those cubes
where you would sit in the center and everything you needed was
around you, at arms reach. grew up with that.

the only thing I do stagnant though is the pickle pot, is always at
or close to a window.

thanks for sharing your Info Brian

Hans, You jewelry studio is a big piece of jewelry that only you
could devise. It is a joy to see your mind at work.