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Looking to buy my first bench, any advice?

Hello! I worked for a jewelry company for 9 years using this desk.

It served me well, and I didn’t have too many problems with it. I’m
self employed now and looking to upgrade from my makeshift
secretary’s desk bench. I don’t want to spend a ton, but I don’t want
crap either :stuck_out_tongue: I’d ideally like a scooped front rather than flat (not
a -total- deal breaker), a solid wood top unlike my old one, and wide
sideways arm rests. I couldn’t stand the 1’’ skinny arm rests from my
old desk, they were so uncomfortable!

I’m leaning towards this one right now. (here’s some more pics with
nice zoom for your viewing pleasure ) I’m loving those wide arm rests,
I like the idea of the double trays and I like the little pull out
tray under the bench pin this one has. I’m just not sure if the
Melamine would be a problem, or what long term durability issues I
might run into. What do you guys think? Any thoughts or suggestions?
Things to look out for? Thanks for your help!

It looks like my hyper links got stripped out. I’m new to this,
wasn’t expecting that to happen :confused:

Anyways, here is the bench that I used for years:

And this is the bench that I’m thinking about buying but I’m not
sure about the melamine legs and what not.

(more pictures from their Ebay store jetstools)

Hi all

design your bench around a Benchmate it will change your life.

all the best

There was a recent post about a jewelry shop closing in the Chicago
area and selling displays, tools, etc. Have you looked at the recent
Orchid archives?

Good luck. MA

I think bench work and wood working really go hand in hand. Wood
working is just bigger. You might think about building your first
bench? If buying, Otto Frei has some great custom benches that I
think are the bestavailable commercially. Maybe ask Santa, if you’ve
been good that is? Mark

I couldnt find any of the photos so I cant comment on what you are
looking at.

I had a custom bench made about 25 years ago and it was well worth
the expense. If you set it up so that it saves you time it pays for
itself very quickly.

I personally like the scoop and have a skin rather than a draw. I do
a lot of setting so if I drop a stone it rolls to the centre of the
skin and is easier to find. If the skin gets damaged its easy to

Draws either side of the bench are handy. I also have shelves in
front of me for storing things.

I try to keep as many of the tools as I can that Im likely to use
within arms reach. This saves me time getting up to fetch them. I
have 2 benches in my workroom side-by-side and I find that I use part
of the spare bench as my working space (tool storage space). If I was
redesigning I would probably go for a wider bench. An arms reach one
way and an arms reach the other. Probably go for a slightly deeper
bench as well.

I set and I make jewellery. I try to do everything at the 1 bench
but there is a trade-off. The convenience of having everything on the
1 bench versus the clutter. Im heading to Antwerp to do the Alexande
setting course next year so Ill be able to have a look at their set
up. Im sure there is an advantage to having a dedicated setting
bench. Im just not sure how the trade-off in time goes from shifting
from one bench to the other.

A be interesting to see what other people say.

I hope that you can get some pictures up on the site because Im
interested to see what you are looking at. Theres a lot to be
learned by seeing how other people tackle the same problems.

Depending on the type of work you do, it may not be big enough or
solid enough to withstand a lot of pounding from forging. I bought
one many years ago and discovered these problems. In addition, I am
left handed and it didn’t allow me to lay things out the way that I
waned them. It did become a good fly tying bench. I build benches
from common lumber that you might find at Lowes or Home Depot. The
work surface is thick plywood. I did find a piece of bowling alley
material that I have always used for my main work bench, but it is
surrounded by those that I describe above. You can buy tile backer
board to line your areas where you will be using a torch. A six foot
long by 2 - 3 foot deep bench shouldn’t cost more than $100. I don’t
use a cut out, but you should be able to work it in. Pictures if you
want them. Good luck. Rob

I have a bench that looks like the Otto Frei bench but did not buy
it there. price is right too. It is in my home studio where I do a
little work. In my studio I made my own bench. I find this bench
very uncomfortable and not friendly. The drawer on the bottom falls
down and out if pulled too far. The open drawers are stuck together
so the access to the bottom drawer is difficult. The arm rests are
thin and uncomfortable. It is not very stable and I wouldn’t do any
hammering on it as everything will shake off the desk. I was able to
put lots of nails & hooks on the outsides to hang stuff.

I will make an assumption that your current desk is rather sturdy.
You will miss that. I agree with the people who have suggested you
make your own and use an apron. Drawers are an easy matter. get IKEA
drawers and either attach them to a separate surface below the desk
(that way everything won’t rattle) or you can get the drawers on
rollers for easy moving about. I think there are pictures on the
site that show lots of people’s benches and another that shows how
to make a bench.

My desk is messy so I have a separate soldering station where I
don’t worry about lighting everything up. Also, I have a separate
place for hammering just to the side of me. I even have a separate
polishing area with a drape so I don’t get gook all over. I do
polish with the flex shaft at my desk. Having different stations for
different work has the advantages of keeping each are relatively
free of contaminates from the other processes and getting you up for
a few steps on a regular basis.

Esta Jo


I’ve never had to use a bench like the one you’re contemplating on a
long term basis, but I have used them as loaners during shows.

They’re… unremarkable. Not spectacularly good, or bad enough to
make much of an impression. So they’d probably do you just fine for
the immediate future.

A little on the flimsy side for stone-setting. (or pounding) other
than that, they’d be fine.

I’ve also used several versions of the big fancy Otto Frei benches.
(at shows) Those things are definitely well made. They weigh a
tonne, especially the Oak double-banker, but they’re solid. You
will never need to buy another bench after that one. You might after
the little $400 one. I guess it depends on how serious you are about
this. If you’re planning on a lifetime bench, (and you don’t
anticipate having to move it much) go for the big heavy Otto Frei
bench. If you’re still living in apartments and expect to have to
move semi-regularly, go for the little one, or make a frankenbench.

(Plans for frankenbench here: )

Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram everything onto one bench.
I’ve got 3-6, depending on how you count which flat surface. It lets
me set things up to suit what I’m doing at the time, and still have
a flat working surface somewhere else when I need one.

(Unless you’re Hans. Then you can cram everything into one cube of
efficiency, and get away with it. Even make it roll, and possibly
self propelled.)


I have a frankenbench and it’s rock solid! I am now looking for a
solution that is portable, lightweigt, and pack-able for Demos, SCA
camp outs, etc…

Then the one posted is NOT great as it is awkward. Rio has one:

Gorgeous in Philly with leaves still on the trees. global warming is
a myth? Right!


Esta Jo Schifter
Shifting Metal

Hi Chris,

The best portable bench design I’ve seen for SCA/etc events where
you need a man portable bench is this one by Larry Seiger.

It’s light enough to be carried in by hand (ish) and small enough
not to eat up your entire car moving it.

If size and weight are no object, Hans Meevis’ rolling rectangle of
efficiency is definitely worth looking at.