Jeweler's Work Bench

I’m looking for a well designed workbench. Who is the leader in
this segment? Any contact details would be helpful. Already know
Gesswein, Frei-Borel, etc. I’m looking for the finest crafted
workbench available. Thanks.


Frei and Borel in Oakland make the nicest bench I have seen. It is a
high quality, all wood bench with columns of drawers on both sides,
oak or maple top.

Alan Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts 760 Market Street - Suite 900 San
Francisco, CA 94102 tel: 415-391-4179 fax: 415-391-7570 email:

  I'm looking for a well designed workbench.  Who is the leader in
this segment? Any contact details would be helpful.  Already know
Gesswein, Frei-Borel, etc.  I'm looking for the finest crafted
workbench available. Thanks. 

the bench Rio Grande has made for them isn’t bad, especially if
you’re in a low humidity area (the one I had in upstate new york was
impossibly tight in the drawers, due to humidity swelling the wood.).
but for my money, and they’re a lot more of it, the best benches you
can just go and buy, are the custom made one sold by Frei and Borel.
Beautiful workmanship and well designed. There are also some
commercially sold, from several dealers including Fren and Borel,
spanish made benches that are a good step up from the routine
commercial benches. They’ve got considerably more of a cutout in the
front, with heavier bench tops. A feel more like the traditional
european benches what with the deep cutout. Cheaper than their
custom made ones too. But i still like the custom ones…

Not that I can afford one… (sigh)


I bough the Delux Jewelers Bench Model # BN250 two years ago and is
a great piece of equipment. I was able to buy it at the drop shipment
rate which was less shiping and some more, cant quite remember how
much more but it was enough. I picked it up at the factory in Los
Angeles north end. It comes broke down and was simple to assembly. I
made a fitting to hold my victor block and a tray platform that sets
on top of the tray out of 1/2" plywood and put a small edge around so
pieces would.t roll off onto the floor. I had used a 5’ oak La school
oak desk for years but I have to admit the Jewelers bench Is great.
You cant go wrong buying it If you live in the L.A. Vinicity ask them
if you could buy it at the drop off rate. Yours Billy S. Bates

Several jeweler friends and I spent many an hour designing what we
thought was the perfect bench. (for us) Fortunately for two of them
their father in laws did woodworking so they have exquisite benches.
My suggestion (since you are willing to spend the money) is to look
around for a very good cabinet or furniture maker in your area and
have them make exactly what you want. Just a few of the changes we
made were to increase the height of the bench so we were not hunched
over all the time, and two shallow drawers under the bench pin. I
have the left one with a solder pad and all my solders, I pull it out
to solder and it stays closed the rest of the time. The right drawer
is for small tools and misc gold stock. It also has a tool drawer
and a sweeps drawer. The small drawers also work as great arm rest.
We have them straight across the front, I never really liked using a
bench that was cut out for the bench pin. Best of luck in your

Bill Wismar

OK, I have to jump onto the Frei and Borel band wagon for the
workbench. I have had one for 3 years and love it. Sam Patania, Tucson

in the archives there was a discussion a couple of years ago on
practical, inexpensive, and alternate types of workbenches, which
include, quite simply, a sturdy table…drawers/storage for tools,
stock, materials could be anything from plastic bins stacked
underneath to a cupboard on the wall…the advantage to "making do"
would depend on how your studio is set up (and how much room you

hope this helps,

I am currently building myself another “Work Bench”, actually it is
suspended from the wall with only one 6 inch foot on the floor for
things to be lost behind! Design what you really want & then try a
local woodworking or cabinet shop. Shipping costs will likely more
than make up for the additional cost of custom work & you will have
what you really want rather than a well made but generic bench. Mark
Chapman ` Whitewolf Jewelry Arts

Bill, I have to agree with you about the cut out benches. I have
worked on benches that were deeply cut out slightly cut out and
straight across on the front. I really never liked the cut out
benches. All three benches in my shop are straight across the front
including my custom made bench. I feel I have much more freedom to
move this way. Why are so many benches cut this way? There seems to
be very little practical use for a cut out.

John Sholl
Littleton, Colorado

Why are so many benches cut this way? There seems to be very little
practical use for a cut out. 

I’m guessing here, but I’ll bet the cutout is a holdover from the
european benches where instead of a bench pan or drawer to catch
filings, one had a leather apron-like affair. The leather needs the
cutout to provide a proper shape to the suspended leather to form the
catching pounch. With a slide out bench pan or drawer, the cutout
also reduces the degree to which the drawer has to slide out in order
to still be able to catch filings, which means the drawer need only
just slide off a shelf, the arrangement used on many commercial
benches. Much cheaper than, for example, actual extension slide
hardware which might be needed to get a stable bench pan sliding far
enough out under a straight front bench. I’ve seen straight front
benches that didn’t need the hardware either, but the bench drawer
needs then to be a bit deeper. Again, perhaps cost is the factor
here. But in the end, I think it’s just the tradition started by the
design of the original leather apron, which does work better with the
cutout, (and which still makes a fine arrangment. Such benches are
still in wide use in europe. Our metal bench drawers are only
different, not necessarily any better.


My bench has a cut out and it works for me. It allows me to string
a steel mandrel across the curve, supported by inset nails, pins–
whatever works. The mandrel is easily set in place or removed. I can
place a ring on the mandrel and then file away, even turning the ring
as I go, lathe fashion. All the filings fall in the drawer, etc. It
also works great for supporting rings for setting, etc. It’s one of
my favorite things to show in the studio solutions portion of my
Bench Tricks and Studio Solutions workshop.

Just a thought, Andy

Greetings all, To add to the discussion about the “ultimate
workbench, spare no expense”, check out the following link. I have seen one in action,
and they are…astonishingly wonderful. Hydraulic lifts operated by
foot control will adjust the height for varying applications. Add a
bank of drawers, extra shelving, and get this…a flush-mounted
power-hone. The motor mounts below the benchtop, allowing you to
polish gravers at your working eye level. These guys are “gear
heads”. If I had this bench, I’d burn mine. (Come to think of it, I
have already done some of that!) They do speak English, but the
English website is still under development, so you’ll have to bear
with the Deutsch for now. Good luck with your pursuits. David Keeling

I agree with the leather apron theory. I am in the process of
designing a bench and saw a friends bench that had the cut-out. Under
that cut out was a leather apron-catch. When I saw that apron below
the cut out it dawned on me that that must be where the cutout
originated. Just a guess, but I think a educated one. In terms of
practicality and functionality, I think it’s a personal preference.
By the way, his bench was definately fashioned after the European
old-style benches an was a work of art in itself.


I use a computer table as a bench. It is wide and deep, it holds
lots of tools and looks like the more cluttered workbenches shown on
Orchid. However, I wish I had a bench with a cutout. The bench
pin, where I spend most of my time sawing, filing and forming small
parts, is over my lap. These small items frequently pop off the
bench pin and take unpredictable bounces on the floor. So, I clamp
the bottom of my shop apron to the table to form a net to catch
these items. Now I am too far away from many of my tools, and need
to unhook the apron to move over to the hammering or soldering
areas. My ideal workbench would have a cutout front so I could
easily reach tools and it would have a retractable leather sling to
catch filings and items that slip off of the bench pin.


I’ll throw 2 cents in on the bench thing, too. I’ve been a prof.
jeweler for 30yrs. - worked on all sorts of benches - banks of
goldsmiths lining the wall, stuff like that. Right now I have
Frei’s TOTheLine bench in Oak. I would say there are only a few key
things in a bench. My benchpin is 38" above the floor, about the
level of my heart. (Install the pin with the square side up, of
course, not angled). I have never used a skin, though I know of
them-comes from the days of blowpipes and bow drills - jewelry’s
heritage. But a tray is essential, and I have had a tray with a 1/4"
screen mounted in it, so my tools are on the screen, and filings fall
through. A large (1") hole and small 1/2" hole drilled next to the
bench pin for holding mandrels, and that’s it- and a steel plate
w/v-cut bolted to the left for saw-piercing. I see NO difference
between a cutout, or not. They are different to work at - you need
to get used to either way. But I see no compelling reason for either
way. I think the only essential thing is that your work is near
shoulder level, which is why table-top work is funky. You are
visually close, but you also have leverage and muscle-power - you
file with your shoulder, not your elbow. You PULL down piercing, not
push it, to hold it. Stuff like that. 2cents John D.

1 Like

Hi Folks, Seems I’ve missed the original email on this topic but,
following the thread, I recently built my own bench, using a
combination of 2x4’s, 7/8" plywood (2 plies laminated together for
the benchtop) and maple 1x4’s, and opted to go the half-moon cutout
route, rather than the straight-across one. For one thing, doing so
lets me zero-in on my work, both visually and physically, and
enables me to reach all of my tools without much in the way of

For another, by building a sliding tool shelf and drawing surface in
between the top and sweeps tray, and adding a pair of armrests on
either side of the cutout, I’m able to both maximize leverage and
look down at reference sketches of whatever I’m working on, again,
without having to strain to reach in one direction or another, when
comparing my progress. Where setting’s concerned, while I do use the
Benchmate system to hold the workpiece, I’ve found that a little bit
of a “variation on a theme” was needed, to keep melee from traveling
and getting lost. What I’ve done is to get a square yard of a sheer,
black, poly-cotton twill, add a neckstrap to one end of it, a pair
of brass grommets to the two corners opposite the neckstrap, and a
pair of arm-loops (made of the same strapping as the neckpiece),
stitched about halfway down the left and right sides of the piece.
The two grommets hook onto a pair of small cup hooks, screwed into
the underside of the benchtop, on either side of the cutout, then
one strap goes over my head and I slide my arms into the other two.
The net result is a dark-field trough with sides – sort of like an
inverted umbrella, sans frame and centerpole – which makes the job
of locating any dropped melee a snap to locate! (And best of all,
when the job is done, the fabric gets folded in half and draped over
the back of my bench stool: simplicity itself!) In a few weeks, I’ll
finally pick up a decent digital camera and be able to offer a
closeup look at the bench, as a whole. I’ts far from perfect, but so
am I, so it’s a great pairing!

All the best Doug Douglas Turet, GJ Lapidary Artist, Designer &
Goldsmith Turet Design P.O. Box 162 Arlington, MA 02476 Tel. (617)
325-5328 eFax (928) 222-0815

Hi, Orchidians, I usually lurk here, but thought I might have a good
tip to furnish here for those who don’t have a “normal” jeweller’s
bench. I work at a counter-type area that was originally built for a
sewing machine. I had the same problem with bouncing objects and
catching my filings,etc., but I found the solution (hopefully
temporary, but still good for me) in an Iris Cart. The Iris is
essentially a set of stacked plastic drawers on wheels. I keep my
supplies and tools in the drawers except for the second from the top,
which I use to catch filings. I pull it out, put the end of my apron
in it and saw or file away. When I finish, I pull the drawer
completely out and empty it into my box of scrap silver. It isn’t a
perfect solution, but is better than doing without. Denise

Denise C. May
DCM Designs

I’m jumping in again on the benches from Progress Tool and Supply
like Mark who posted about trying to return his bench I also had the
impression that the bench (JA 500) I bought was solid wood. Since
most benches are, this is a reasonable assumption. In reality, my
bench only has some wood trim.

However, since a semi-truck delivered it, and, as I said before I was
unprepared for the delivery and had to sit with the bench outside for
three hours until I found someone to come over and help me carry it
in they’re shipped assembled and on crates.

Shipping was about $100.00. I was disappointed when I got the bench
and this was a present for a milestone birthday. But, what am I
gonna do? Return in? Pay another hundred in shipping? Fight with
them to make them pay it? Crate it up again? It doesn’t make sense
to pay return shipping then I’d have paid $200.00 shipping on a
$300.something item, and not had a bench after finally getting one
after 12 years.

So Mark’s not the only one.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Certified PMC Instructor

I also have one of these benches and also was led to believe that it
was solid wood. Shame on Progressive and I will twice before
ordering from them again. While I am here does anyone know where I
can get stainless steel cable wire to use for chockers. Thanks,Louise

Elaine I have been reading all the Bench postings and understand your

The race to make a Cheaper bench has killed the Bench business. As a
manufacturer that dabbed in this Bench business. I would suggest the
following & by priority as listed. I would welcome any correction
and appreciate any of your input and perhaps learn some more.

  1. Look for solid wood top (preferably Butcher Block).

  2. Solid Wood Legs (the skirt between the legs could be smooth ply

  3. Height should Be between 39 to 36 inches. One should be able to
    cut the legs.

  4. Should have at least four draws (one catch Pan at least).

  5. All Draw fronts should be of Solid Wood or top quality Ply.

  6. Minimum width should be 30 inches & depth should be at least 17

  7. Maximum width should be 60 inches & depth should be 30 inches.

Cutout and curved tray are two things that make the Bench expensive.
I feel these are like the Roll top that I sacrificed long time ago.

The 39" high & 24" wide Mini Solder station or a Wax Working station
with the butcher block top that I had made for an Artist in Santa Fe
is one thing I would suggest to a lot of jewelers that have
excellent benches already. This takes away the mess & the array of
tools for those jobs away from your creative area unless you work
depends largely on these two steps.

Hope this helps someone.
Kenneth Singh