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Jewelers bench use and design

Hi all,

I’m working on a book on the jewellers bench ( a Ganoksin Project
book), and welcome any imput people have. What would you tell someone
about shopping for, or designing a bench? What would keep them out of
trouble or help them use a North American commercial bench better?

If you have the time, please consider answering this survey I’ve put

Thankyou very much for your thoughts,


Hi All,

Thank you to those who have responded to the survey on the bench so
far, the is shaping up very nicely. I thought I would
share a snapshot of the answers to one of the survey questions, and
it is posted below, and when I complete the project I will make all
the available here at Ganoksin.

This project is an example of Group Mind, one of the strengths of
Orchid and the Ganoksin Project. Please consider adding your
experience to the bench survey:

thank you,

What would you tell someone who had never had a jewelers bench that
is important to know about having and using one?

  1. ergonomics! ergonomics! ergonomics! Everything at the right
    height for YOUR body (height, arm length, where your elbows are
    located along those arms) Save yourself future back, neck, shoulder
    problems which may impair/discourage/prevent you from doing what you
    love. An adjustable chair without wheels. The problem I see most
    often is a bench that is a few inches too low, so that you are
    hunching your neck and upper back; and a rolling chair, which diverts
    unnecessary energy/focus into anchoring yourself to the floor with
    your legs and feet…

  2. Sit down at a prospective bench and make sure you are comfortable
    there, and everthing is, or will be within reach. Think about real
    estate, both on top, and in drawer space. Will the bench have room to
    hold all of the things you intend to have?

  3. purchase a bench made with as much solid wood as possible (as
    opposed to pressboard), assembled using quality fasteners (not
    staples and brads), and which incorporates a reasonable amount of
    storage (like a column of drawers built in to one side)

  4. It needs to be high enough to work at without bending over.

  5. Bench height & chair height are very important. Tool storage and
    bench size are secondary but should still be a consideration.

  6. three things: stability, placement and lighting. I placed my
    bench on blocks to bring it up to a height that was comfortable to me
    then bolted it to both the wall and the floor. There’s nothing worse
    than having a bench that moves around when your pressing on it; and
    securing it reduces vibration on the bench when you have to hammer on
    it. Make sure that you have your bench in a convenient area and that
    you place your bench away from distractions while keeping in mind the
    traffic flow of your shop. It can be very unnerving to be totally
    concentrating on work and have someone innocently come up to you and
    startle you. Lighting…make sure you have a good amount of it.
    Natural light is good but it is inconsistent, so augment it. I like a
    mixture of florecent and halogen light at my bench.

  7. It must be affixed to the floor or wall It must have a white top,
    like a kithcen counter top.

  8. Proper work height and tool storage is most important. Armrests
    are a good addition.

  9. Make sure it: - is solid (doesn’t wobble around) - is a
    comfortable height - can take a beating - won’t be inordinately
    damaged by a little hot metal falling on the surface every once in a
    while - isn’t made of plasic

  10. The important thing is working at a correct height with correct
    posture, and having your tools (and light source) easily accessible.
    A commercial bench is good for this, yet it is possible to make your
    own or make accessories that can be clamped to a table top when one
    cannot get a bench (due to expense or space).

  11. Get a bench and chair that will put you at the right comfortable
    hight to work.

  12. It needs good storage and a way of holding your tools at hand.
    The height needs to adjust to you (I am 5’ 1" and have a hard time
    reaching, while my 6’ 4" husband has the opposite problem. I wouldn’t
    mind a "bullet proof surface.

  13. Assumiing this person is a total beginner, I’d tell them the
    bench pin should be at their shoulder height. To get quality, but
    that it is not necessary to go overboard. To think about what kind of
    drawers are important to them.

  14. You need to customize it to cooperate with how you work.

  15. correct height, bench top relative to chest height

  16. Figure out what you are planning to be making, including scale
    and techniques required, design around these requirements. If you are
    doing lots of chasing the bench should have a section at the right
    height for this task. If you tend to make larger objects, the bench
    should be scaled up to accommodate the work.

  17. Get a proper chair, or you’re turn into a humpback whale like
    me. That, and attach a strip of magnetic metal to the top of your
    bench somewhere, its really handy for keeping track of loose bits

  18. Look at many different designs and if you can’t find one you
    like then custom build one to your specs.

  19. Needs to be sturdy with at least one pull out tray

Hi all,

Another snapshot of answers from the Jewelry Bench design survey. 77
people so far have contributed their experience. If you would like to
put your two cents in please add to the survey. thankyou, Charles

One of the questions posed was:

What bench accessories are most important to you?

  1. Interchangeable GRS bench pin holder, Lots of drawers.

  2. smooth surfaces, a good bench pin and those home made dudades.
    third hands, good light, extra heat sources and a garbage that is

  3. excellent lighting and chair

  4. GRS Benchmate and its accessories.

  5. Dazor light, metal soldering tray, handy pickle and rinse bowl

  6. Good lighting. 2 inexpensive clip on lamps, 1 at each side.

  7. Flexshaft

  8. microscope and GRS system

  9. The bench pin, flex shaft, and the many tools used in the flex

  10. The pin, soldering pad, bench vise and a good light.

  11. bench pin, mandrel recepticles, magnifiers/light clipped on

  12. Within the cut-out edge of the thick (1.5" butcherblock)
    bench-top are two holes (on either side of the bench pin). These are
    inlaid with copper tubing and allow me to insert my ring mandrel in
    either direction (narrow or wide end towards me).

  13. Bench pin. A holding device or spot for a ring mandrel. A small
    vise. Torch holder. Arm support Storage, storage, storage. Especially
    on top. I have an unused Benchmate because I don’t have a good place
    to put it. Storage drawers right under the work surface and over the
    bench drawer are important

  14. bench block, vise,and accessable tool storage

  15. Magnets!

  16. Lots of LIGHT!!! bench pin, Vise (panavise rotational); flex
    shaft, bench block, vernier caliper; the shelves under the bench top,
    just above the tray - they slide forward for easy access and store
    things I need regularly but do not want cluttering the bench top on a
    daily /all day basis, like ring mandrel, beeswax, disk cutter,
    dapping block, etc. Also the system that exhausts and traps the
    ginding and polishing debris, reclaiming the metal - it is attached
    to the bench pin.

  17. Bench pin and Flexshaft

  18. The GRS system adapter. My multiple flex shafts - one with quick
    release, one with a #30 handpiece for the odd size tools.

  19. bench mate tools

  20. My GRS Benchmate system (including its several components) is my
    most important accessory.

  21. places to put tools

  22. benchmate shelf with graver

  23. My GRS attachments and my foredom

  24. The GRS Benchmate makes changing from bench pin, to soldering
    pad, to benchmate, to engraving ball fast and easy.

  25. Panavise w/ delrin jaw protector; several benchpins; pitchbowl;
    ring & bracelet mandrels; lots of overhead places to hang sawframes,
    torch mixer, & miscellaney to keep them out of the way yet

  26. A GOOD LIGHT! A good chair, GRS mounting bracket. A microscope
    is nice. 27. Benchmate.

  27. flexshaft dazor lamp little torch

  28. Need a good sturdy bench pin

  29. A well placed rod for my foredom to hang and be easily accessed.
    I like the multi drawer finding cabinets that you can get from
    Canadian Tire. I have a peg board on the wall in front of my bench
    where I can hang my some of my larger tools for easy access. (ie
    Hammers etc.)

  30. A “rack” with small drawers and shelves mounted above and to the
    rear of the bench (such as a mirror might be mounted on the back of a

  31. The bench pin is work central. I have a sheet steel bench pin
    that swings away that I use for saw work. Make sure you drill a
    couple of holes into the front to hold the end of a ring mandrel when
    you need to. 33. benchmate

  32. I’ve hammered staples to the top and front to accomidate
    tweezers for steadiness in soldering. You can slide the tweezers
    under them and they keep them closed. I make my staples from coat
    hangers and sharpen the ends. I also have contouring racks made from
    hangers for my pliers hammered into the front of the top on either
    side of my bench pin.

  33. I have double foredom’s hanging and could hang more if needed.
    One is a permanant hammer piece. The other a #30 hand piece. I have
    used the quick changes but prefer the larger #30 for control.

  34. GRS system,by far. Graver max APPA torch lighter

  35. All GRS equipment. Complete Benchmate setup. Don’t know how I
    ever existed without a Gravermax.

  36. A bench pin that can be flipped as needed for the job (flat side
    to angle side, etc.) An adjustable bench top light source. A bench
    anvil that is flush with the height of the bench top surface. A hole
    in the bench for a ring mandrel is nice at times too (I don’t have
    one in my bench though).

  37. The GRS system- my benchpin is even modified to use it (Thanks
    to Dave Arens) and my Meiji microscope.

  38. Storage and holders for my pliers.

  39. I like the pull out flat work surface. I like the metal insert
    to prevent burning when soldering. Oh do you mean other stuff, like a
    GRS? Hmm. Don’t know.

  40. benchpin strip of magnet I dont knwo what you call them but
    those pieces of wood or plastic with tiny holes in them to hold all
    your bits

  41. bench pin drawers (when i find some the right size)

  42. sturdiness, ability to attach a Benchmate, I have a set of
    drawers and plier rest sitting on the back of mine. Wish this was
    standard. Built in Foredom hook would be nice. I have a 5 plug
    outlet attached to front right foot of mine to plug in Foredom, wax
    pen etc.

I recently visited the Tiffany exhibition in London. On the wall was
a photograph of the Tiffany Union Square workshop taken in 1887. In
this picture the first jeweler was sitting at a flat fronted bench
with his upper right arm resting on a round bar that looked like the
blunt end of a billiard cue and with his left hand firmly clamped
around the bench pin. Looking at the other benches in the photograph
it looked as though this bar could be retracted into the bench.

I was interested to know if this set-up could provide me with
additional rigidity when engraving at the bench pin so I tried
clamping a piece of scrap wood to the underside of my bench, jutting
out some 12-14 inches and 2 inches in height below the bench pin
surface. To this I added one of my homemade sand bags as an arm
support, its a little softer than the commercial ones.

For me this worked well and I noticed that I was more relaxed and
controlled when making those small but critical champleve
[enamelling] cuts with the graver. Effectively you have the advantage
of a deeply cut European style bench without having to destroy your
existing flat fronted one and it has the added advantage that the
support can be removed when you need more access to the bench. I
would be intersted in hearing from others who might use such a set-up
as I am certain that my existing set-up could be improved.

Best wishes from the UK
mike k

I would be intersted in hearing from others who might use such a

As I understand your post, you’re talking about an armrest(?) Aside
from the obvious support, which, yes, is useful - my bench has it
built-in - there’s another, more important reason. If you are sitting
at a typical height bench, and you raise your elbow and set it (for
support) ON the bench top, it will pinch the nerve under your
shoulder, eventually makeing your whole arm numb for months
(experience, here). Just that two inches lower that the armrest is
prevents that, typically.

Hi All,

Thanks to all the participants who have answered the jewelers bench
survey so far. 102 people have added their thoughts and experience to
this project, and it have been very useful and interesting.

I will be closing the survey around December 5th. If you would like
to contribute your ideas and notes please go to

The more group mind we get the better!

Thank you,

Here is a sample of answers to one of the questions:

What is the most irritating thing about your bench design?

  1. filings drawer is useless as most precious metal bits
    escape.Hammer storage useless, corrosion proofing non-existant in
    most benches because drawers don’t seal

  2. too deep and the drawer is too deep. 2 shallow would be better
    than one deep. Top is slightly too thick for most clamps.

  3. No row of drawers on the left (just one).

  4. shallow drawers

  5. The price was pretty hefty.

  6. I am unable to access a very useful large pull-out work surface
    because my Benchmate mounting bracket blocks access to it, even when
    no fixtures are attached. I would have liked a wider cut out on the
    top of the bench. The arm-support pull-outs are rarely useful due to
    their height relative to the bench surface; they are only 2 inches
    below the benchtop. I would have made the bench a little wider beyond
    the cut-out at the left to accomodate left-hand torch use.

  7. Not enough drawers…

  8. they way it breaks down for moving ment one of the drawer stacks
    got put on just crooked enough that I can’t pull the tray out all the
    way without it jumping hte rails and landing in my lap.

  9. Can’t say as anything really irritates me about it.I am very
    happy with my bench. It has a good amount of storage but of course I
    have more accessories and tools than can be stored inside the bench.
    So I have a wall of tools right next to the bench. Magnet strips and
    hooks. Everything easily within reach.

  10. The holes on either side of the bench pin are not deep enough.
    Some designs these holes are lower on another block of wood that are
    through holes to store your file or ring mandrel.

  11. There aren’t enough compartments, and the pull-out dust catcher
    drawer thing is too high sided to sweep out. I have to vacuume to
    clean, a real pain.

  12. Nothing, it was custom made for me.

  13. the sweeps drawer is too close to the bench pin to keep open
    while I am sawing. (Duh, what is the point of that!)

  14. I miss a draw to catch my sawings. Messing arround with pieces
    of paper on my lap. I use the table for all the rest including
    soldering. Annoying is that I have to build my firing place every
    time I need it. A permanent space for soldering would be ideal

  15. I wish I could have a U shape bench. I would use that to enclose
    me to keep me from distractions and also be able to set up more
    things… Past that… I dont have much really… I love my set
    up. Oh… I guess I have to stand up to get jump rings and findings -
    but thats not a biggie.

  16. No ring mandrel hole; the upper tray is a little high when
    sawing a large wax block.

  17. I don’t like having a chair that rolls around so when I have to
    move to different parts of the bench, I have to pick the chair up and
    move it into position. It can get cluttered very easily if not
    cleaned off regularly.

  18. In hindsight, I think I would have preferred a bench with a deep

  19. Heavy and didn’t come with lock.

  20. filing drawer dosent slide back far enough to get it out of the
    way when not needed.

  21. It’s still incomplete. This one’s a salvage job. When my church
    bought a new organ, the old one was disassembled and left by the
    dumpster. I took these large pieces of superb, heavy wood home, and
    they sat for quite a spell. Then the Spirit moved me to put it back
    together in its’ final form.

  22. bench height on one of my benches is so low I cannot get my legs
    under it. I had to raise it on 2 inch blocks

  23. Some have been too deep for a shorter person (5’2") to use
    without having to stand to get anything from the back. That leads to
    some wasted space, as everything used on a regular basis is kept
    within arm’s reach.

  24. Not enough drawers or shelves. But I have two shelf units that
    I’ve added that help. Made for a stool and needs to be cut down to a
    chair height.

  25. N/A

  26. To use the top I must stand,and I cannot use the tray at my
    height (5’2") despite adjusting the chair. I do flip the tray and
    that helps somewhat but things can roll off. I would like to see a
    sturdy pull-out tray about half way between top and tray bottom.

  27. I found these benches impractical when it came to ergonomics.

  28. The flat front and no drawers.

  29. Not enough storage space.

  30. deep drawers

  31. It’s flat in the front. I like a bench (see above) with a big
    half-round cutout in the front and a nice heavy piece of leather as a

  32. That I did not purchase it earlier in my career.

  33. The most irritating thing is there never is enough space. Where
    to clamp/affix the lighting is a constant frustration too.

  34. The holes for ring mandrels are useless, too small and shallow.
    The sliding tray is pretty much useless on it’s upper shelf, too
    shallow. I’d like to plumb it for a vacuum pickup, but the shelf is
    in the way, I’d have to remake it to have space for the vacuum tube.

  35. It could really use a pull out board for writing on. at elbow
    level or just higher. I have used a bench with a writing board but it
    was just under the bench top over the drawers on the right. After
    raising the bench about three inches so I could sit straighter,(I
    have a bad back), I could not use it for anything other then holding
    a coffee cup. it was just under sholder level. really hard to write

  36. The bench is made of inexpensive plywood. It’s not substantial
    enough to drill attachments into.

  37. the door on the side, with holes to put burs in, does not open
    all the way. when I reach in past the burs I sometimes get scraped by
    my burs.

  38. Have drawers on only one side and would have preferred drawers
    on both sides. I would have preferred to use drawer slides that are
    more efficient (built it from Tim’s plans)

  39. Not enough space on the front surface–Iwould mount toos there
    if I could. I wish I had afforded onewith drawers galore.

  40. It lacked any racks to hang pliers but I fixed this by adding a
    rack under the bench top.

  41. The bench top is a little small, and I would like more drawers.

  42. Not enough storage.

  43. The drawer right under the top…it winds up like that kitchen
    drawer everyone has…the whatnot drawer…loaded with everything

  44. It is too low down for piercing work. I have to hunch over.

  45. flat-fronted-ness

  46. the build quality (brads and staples), and the composite top

  47. it’s dark in the back of the drawer.

  48. My sweeps drawer is a little too low for me but I cannot change
    that due to the design of the rollers.

  49. storage and a large surface area. The drawers are often too
    small and too long so tools tend to migrate to the back of the
    drawer. The top of the bench tends to get cluttered.

  50. Nothing

  51. No tool storage. As abilities increase, so does need for more
    and more tools.

  52. It isn’t solid enough (wobbles a bit) and the top isn’t thick
    enough to allow stuff to be mounted into the face of it. Next time
    I’d go for a 1.5-2 in thick surface instead of the 1 inch I’ve got.

  53. The most irritating thing about my design is that the vinyl
    pouch for catching filings is just a hair shy of catching everything.
    I can correct this, but it is annoying right now. I wanted to go with
    the vinyl pouch rather than the tray so I could fit tools under it on
    the shelf beneath the pouch.

  54. The slides on the drawers are cheap commercial slides that

  55. The drawers don’t go all the way to the back, so there is wasted

  56. Well, when I bought it I thought it was solid wood, it turns out
    to have some particle board, which is annoying. My fault for not
    asking questions, but I still like it.

  57. Bench pin gets in the way while working on the lower level.

  58. the fact that it is made of wood, and sometimes… just
    sometimes… catches on fire.

  59. the bottom tray slides back in when I dont want it to. Needs a
    brake or lock of some sort. 60. the pull out door "handles that are
    just places to pich your fingers in

Hi all,

thank you to the 124 people who have answered the jewelers bench
questions. I will be closing the survey on Dec 5th, so if you wish to
add your wisdom to the group please go to

Thank you to all who contributed so far. There will be a full report
to you on this project. Here is a snapshot of answers to date on how
we use the bench.

best wishes

-What kind of bench design do you use? Percent [Total]

North American Commercial 44.4% [52]
European deep cutout 18.8% [22]
Other 36.8% [43]

-Do you solder at the bench? Percent [Total]

Yes 63.1% [53]
No 36.9% [31]

-Does your bench provide sufficient bench surfaces and heights for
you to work easily? Percent [Total]

Yes 74.7% [62]
No 25.3% [21]

-It your bench stable enough? Percent [Total]

Yes 92% [80]
No 8% [7]

-Do you have enough strong bracing places for your body on your
bench? Percent [Total]

Yes 67.9% [57]
No 32.1% [27]

-What kind of bench cutout depth do you prefer? Percent [Total]

Shallow (less than 4 inches) 33.8% [27]
8 inches deep 48.8% [39]
12 inches deep 20% [16]