I am interested in finding a good quality jewelers bench. I have seen
several nice ones from companies such as Otto Frei or Rio Grande.
However, they would all need to ship by freight all the way across
the country, which would add an additional 1/4 to 1/3 to the bench
cost. I have seen the cheap ones that can be shipped by UPS but I
want one that will last me a long time. I thought of designing and
building my own but I would rather make jewelry than build a bench. I
also thought about hiring a local woodworker to build it for me but I
see that as kind of risky since a complete plan for a bench is hard
to find. Does any one know of a good source of jewelers benches in
the Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania areas?
I’m in North Carolina, and I opted for the single bank Frei bench in
oak about seven or eight years ago. I gotta tell ya, it’s one sweet
bench. It’s large, solid, heavy, straight, well designed (obviously
by a benchie) and built with quality materials. The bench pan
especially is really nice, it is formed from one piece of
non-magnetic steel (20 gauge stainless I think?) and goes all the way
up and over the top of the wooden frame and has no square corners- no
place for little pieces to hide (although the nails it is secured
with will occasionally catch the hairs on my arm - OUCH!). The pan
easily supports my GRS positionable MagnaBlock vise (42 pounds) and
slides easily and smoothly even when the block is in it.
It also looks very professional. In my store we have people come
into the shop for tours and demos all the time, the shop is very
visible and open to the showroom. Even non-metalsmiths comment on how
impressive and nice it is. When it was delivered my wife asked me if
it wasn’t going to take a while to get used to it. I told her “Yeah,
it’s gonna take me a while to get used to driving my new Lamborghini
when I get one of those too.”
Just like I tell my customers when they are trying to decide on a
major purchase, the bitterness of low quality will remain long after
the sweetness of low price is forgotten. I couldn’t tell you off hand
what I paid for it or what it cost to ship it here, but I can tell
you it was worth every penny. I’d buy it again in a New York minute.
If you spend all day every day at the bench, you owe yourself one of
these benches. It is without question the finest commercially
available jeweler’s bench I have ever seen, by far. To get a better
one, you will have to have it made by a fine custom furniture maker
or a very talented and skilled cabinet maker. It won’t be cheap
No affiliation, just a very satisfied tool junkie.
I was curious, so I just went through the online ordering process for
a basic jewelers bench at Rio. The bench costs $345. UPS Ground
shipping from New Mexico to my address in Chesapeake, Virginia is
$50.11. What’s that, around 14%? That is most certainly NOT 30% to
40% of the price of the bench. Expensive? Yes. Exorbitant? Not
really. The bench weighs just under 100 pounds. It would be hard to
get it to ship even from a point of origin on the East Coast for
much less. Maybe you’ll save 5 or 10 dollars, but the weight and bulk
of the package is what’s driving the price of shipping, more so than
the number of zones it’s traveling through. I’ve had my basic bench
from Rio for 20 years. If you use yours that long, then the price per
year of that shipping cost is relatively insignificant, don’t you
I am interested in finding a good quality jewelers bench.
A good friend, who has a custom furniture company, got interested in
jewelry benches last year. I worked with him on design and he also
consulted Charles Lewton-Brains bench book. He made 4 excellent
benches for my shop plus and extra which is available for sale. The
top drawers are shallow, so your tools won’t be buried and they have
a pull-out vertical drawer that you can hang hammers and such on. Not
cheap, about $800, more for the double drawer stack version which is
my personal bench. He is in Andover, NY. About an hour west of
Forgive me for not offering a solution, but the subject of jeweler’s
benches has been on my mind since I saw this article yesterday about
a jeweler in Chennai, India, written by a customer. Scroll down to
see his bench and his shop.
David mentioned the Frei single bank. I worked on one of those for
about a year and just could not get used to it. For me and my way of
working, the top is too high and I don’t really ‘get’ the cutout.
Maybe I just can’t think outside the box. Nothing wrong with the
bench, it just wasn’t for me. David’s in harmony with his.
So my suggestion is before you pop for anything see if you can test
drive some different benches.
My bench is about 50-60 years old. It was used for decades before it
was passed on to me. Its one of those basic steel legged, hardwood
topped budgetmobiles. Its beat. I had to flip the top over to get a
smoother flatter surface. I have it screwed into the wall for more
stability. For storage I have a metal drawer cabinet next to the
bench. I’ve done some heavy hammering on it and I’ve set some tiny
square emeralds on it. This bench is my second skin. Its got history.
I could not guess how much money has been produced on its humble
surface. I think five million would be conservative. Does all that
make it good?
There’s a saying, “You’re only as good as your tools (or bench)”. I
don’t subscribe to that. A good craftsman can overcome a lacking
tool. An excellent tool in the hands of a hack will still only
produce hackisms. A tool is what you make it. Find the one that’s
right for you. You may be surprised to find its not necasarily the
most costly one.
Although, I still daydream about building a bench to address every
little issue I have (mostly confining lost bits and stones) But then
I’d have nothing to grouse about.
I think the poster wanted a more substantial bench, the kind that
has to be shipped freight on a truck. I think that was $100.00 or
more when I got my bench.
I actually got the Rio $345 “Standard Workbench” a year ago after
hunting around at new/used/creative substitutes and am happy with it.
There are panels of plywood and composite, but it’s still presentable
enough to have in a living space (by the time you cover it in tools,
who can tell?). And even the composites are substantial, so it’s a
solid piece–I’m comfortable thunking my bench vise down and
hammering away, unlike some of the other models I was considering
that had lighter legs/tops.
At the same time, it’s not like a $600 bench where I would have
flinched the first time I scarred or scorched it. I certainly
wouldn’t have just chopped away at the legs one night to accommodate
my height and 100yo home, or blithely considered any of the other
modifications which will eventually make this my very own
As someone mentioned, you may get lucky with a used local
Craigslist/ eBay posting if you’ve got time to wait and watch.
Otherwise, you just have to take the shipping hit–and Freight is an
added value over Ground which can be ungentle at times. Any carpenter
you find will probably be more than a pre-built bench unless they’re
pricing way below market–or you can swap.