Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Moderna bench from Rio

I have just been going back through the archives on bench
recommendations. I had ordered a Moderna bench from Rio. It
arrived last week, I unpacked it Sunday, it is, without question,
the most lousy piece of pseudo-workmanship I have come across in a
long time! The back was only partially attached, and it’s plywood
was splitting; major bangs on the bench top; damaged drawer fronts
(cosmetic, but for a new bench NOT acceptable); one leg post was
split at the bottom; one corner of the bench proper was sanded
round; the brace bar at the bottom was split across where a hole had
been drilled for the dowel; the holes for the bolts to hold the
sides to the body did not line up on one side. Enough said?

And yet I see folks who are singing the praises of Moderna benches.

I’ve looked at the Progress benches and would love to hear from
anyone who has or has used their Champion Setters bench, Chariot
Bench, or Heavyweight Bench.

I also checked the Otto Frei (drool!!!), and in my price range
would be interested in hearing from anyone who has or has used their
Deluxe Jewelers Workbench.

I could not find prices on the Stuller benches, and some of the
links did not work. I think someone from Stuller is on the list -
if you see this could you e-mail me your benches that would be
roughly equivalent to what I’ve listed above please?

The folks at Rio said they did not have a history of trouble with
the bench I had ordered, so maybe I just got a really bum job. I
honestly can’t believe Moderna packed anything of that poor quality!
They should be ashamed. Rio is having my piece of trash picked up,
and has offered to ship a replacement, but I am frankly feeling a
bit leery and suspicious of the quality of the Moderna. I do want
to emphasize that the folks at Rio have been very helpful, and this
is not a problem with Rio, but with one of their suppliers.

Thoughts and suggestions welcome! I really want a fairly basic but
well-made and sturdy work bench. I don’t need anything really
fancy, just serviceable.

Beth in SC where it thinks it is August - free sauna, just step outside

I've looked at the Progress benches and would love to hear from
anyone who has or has used their Champion Setters bench, Chariot
Bench, or Heavyweight Bench. 

Hi, I bought myself the Progress Heavyweight Bench for a milestone
birthday, and I’m very happy with it. Metalsmithing friends who see
it tend to admire it. One commented, "This isn’t going anywhere."
I love the drawers, the armrests, everything. It’s very well

Just make sure you have plans to get it inside when it arrives – it
comes by truck, fully assembled and is very, very heavy.

It’s partly particle board, but it’s a compromise on price vs. solid

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

I, too, need a bench. I am considering having one made by a friend
who is an excellent carpenter. Does anyone know where I can access a
set of plans for a bench?


Hi Beth,

I ordered the “Grobet” bench some time back and I love it! I
shopped around and they also had the best price for this brand and
style. I hope this helps. Also, I would recommend calling Rio for a
UPS call tag to pick up your bench. Reba

Beth -

This is probably not a popular point of view, but I have been very
disappointed with the quality of many things I get from Rio,
although I have not specifically ordered big ticket items like a
jeweler’s bench.

Specifically, I ordered some 14K gold hoops with loops for dangles,
and they were extremely flimsy. I was worried that the loops would
break before I was finished making the piece. I ordered some calla
lilly pendants with posts for a pearl and I was astonished at the
crappy quality - big lumps of solder, no attempt whatsoever to
finish seams or connections. I like neoprene rubber neck cables for
pendants, and a great number of them pull right out of the clasp.
I’ve ordered several sterling multi-strand neck cables that you have
to finish yourself and those just fall apart. Very disappointing.


Before making g a bench you should look at the new ones from
Stuller, firel, and gewessin as well progress make good ones.

Andy “The Tool Guy” Kroungold
Sales/ Tools and Technical
Stuller Inc.
337-262-7700 ext. 4194
337-262-7791 fax

Hi Donna & All,

Depending on where you live I have a few benches for sale…Northern
NJ…You must pick it up though. I can’t ship them. Lots of other
equipment too. If anyone is interested I can send you pictures.


Dear Hanuman,

I would like to address the issue with one of your subscribers which
has posted some negative feedback on your forum.

The subscriber is Beth Wicker, and the subject is Moderna Bench.

According to her letter Miss Wicker experienced some problems with
one of our #MO.162 Jewelers workbenches. When Miss Wicker received
her bench and opened the package, she noticed that part of the back
panel popped out, the drawer fronts were crushed, the edges were
broken, the leg was broken, so on and so forth. All of the problems
which she has mentioned in this letter are attributed by mishandling
of freight (freight damage). Even though the bench she purchased is
a standard starters bench, all of our benches pass through vigorous
quality control inspections before they are boxed. We ship
thousands of benched per year and so far customers and jewelry
crafters have been wise enough to know the difference between
freight damage and poorly manufactured product. I was shocked to
hear these awful negative comments directed to one of our products.
In her letter she also mentions some other brands of bench
manufacturers which she praises. First I would like to shed some
light on this topic, I would like everyone to know who we are and
what we do. We are a very high end furniture manufacturer, we
started making furniture style benches in 1980, we have been making
furniture since 1960. Most of the Bench manufacturers she has
mentioned are or were at one time or another Moderna bench
distributors, some have decided to modify and reproduce our designs.
We offer 36 different types and styles of workbenches, the MO-162
is a good affordable basic start-up workbench. We try to
accommodate a wide spectrum of jewelry crafters and professionals,
our benches start at a retail price of $300.00 and go up to
$8,000,00. I would welcome any other competitor to measure up to
our standards. So to Miss, Wicker I appreciate your concerns and I
am sorry you had a negative experience with a first impression of
our basic bench, but I can assure you our craftsmanship, experience
is uncompromised and unparalleled. If you are willing to up your
budget, I’m sure you will get exactly what you want with one of our
professional addition benches.

Gary Atachian
President Moderna Inc.

Gary -


I only posted AFTER contacting Rio, requesting that they contact
Moderna, and being told that there was no point in their doing that,
that nothing would happen. They are the supplier; they should know
how highly a company they represent does or does not stand behind
their products. They were quite clear that in their opinion there
was no point in their contacting Moderna. As a manufacturer myself,
in a whole different field, I understand how important it is to know
when one of our products is not “right”, whatever the reason. If we
don’t know there is a problem we can’t fix it. We also handle items
made by other manufacturers, and we know which ones will stand behind
their products if we contact them with a customer problem, and which
ones we ourselves must “eat” to keep the customer happy. I was
assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that Rio knew this also and was
operating on that knowledge. I sincerely apologize if that is not
the case. I most certainly pushed, in two phone calls, for Rio to
contact Moderna about the problem, as I wanted to give Moderna the
opportunity to address the problem.

Second: nothing in the packaging gave me a phone or e-mail contact
for Moderna, nor was I able to find one when I searched on the net.
Not that it doesn’t exist - it may - but I did not find it. I
searched first, before posting, having thought I might contact
Moderna myself. Again, as a manufacturer myself, I know how
important it is to be given the chance to correct both a "problem"
with a product we make, and the customer’s “image” of our company.
I wanted to extend that courtesy to Moderna.

Third - I did NOT praise any other benches, having no experience
with them at all. I posted asking those who DID have experience to
share their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Orchid is a forum for
sharing - that is what I wanted. Before I re-ordered I wanted to
decide whether to re-order the Moderna bench, or switch to another
brand. In fact, if you will reference my original post below, you
will see that I specifically said that in searching the Orchid
archives I found “folks who are singing the praises of Moderna
benches.” I also noted that Rio said they did not have a history of
problems with the Moderna benches.

Fourth - your comment “customers and jewelry crafters have been wise
enough to know the difference between freight damage and poorly
manufactured product” - yes, and I am one of them. The box is not
damaged. The bench was very well packed. IF some of the damage is
freight, then you need to improve your packaging- and honestly, I
thought the packaging was fine. In my experience, damaged boxes
indicate the possibility of damaged contents. Undamaged boxes
rarely do. It is possible, though not probable, that the crack in
the leg post is from the box being dropped, although I would have
thought a drop heavy enough to crack a leg post would have dented
the box visibly. It is NOT possible for freight damage to account
for the holes for the bolts not lining up. Sorry, but I don’t see
how freight handling can do that! Nor do I see how freight damage
could cause a split from the drill hole for the dowel. I do a bit
of woodworking - that sort of split almost always occurs either
during the drilling of the hole or during the insertion of the
dowel. Not later. Given the wonderful side cardboard protections
the bench body was in, I didn’t, and don’t, see how the curve could
have been caused by freight handling. Both the box and the cardboard
corner protectors should have been totally crushed, and neither
showed any damage.

I genuinely don’t see how freight handling could have done most of
the damage, and given the condition of the box I have trouble seeing
how it did any, although it is possible. Weird things do happen.

I hadn’t, and haven’t, decided whether to get another Moderna bench
or not. The design of the bench is exactly what I want. I did not,
and do not, wish to spend more for a bench - I don’t need a fancy
bench, and would rather put the money into stones and metal costs
than a bench with bells and whistles. I expect a less expensive
bench to have less features. The bench, without the damage, would
have been exactly what Rio presented it as being, and what I had
decided I wanted. It still is. I just am concerned about taking
the time to have this one shipped back (they finally came with a
call tag Friday - of course while I was out - so the bench has yet
to be picked up. Then it has to get to Rio. THEN if I want a
replacement they will ship it. I’ve lost two weeks or more in time,
not to mention the time in dealing with all of this!). My thought
had been to research what else was out there, and if there was
something else that would meet my needs and desired cost, or if the
general experience with Moderna was good and I should stick with it
and just assume I got a rare bad apple.

I am frankly a bit bothered by your comment "If you are willing to
up your budget, I’m sure you will get exactly what you want with one
of our professional addition benches. While I would expect a more
expensive bench to have more features, I also expect any product I
purchase, regardless of the cost, to be correctly made, and in good
working order when I purchase it. When I buy cheap, I don’t expect
the same work life as when I pay more, but I DO expect it to
function correctly on purchase. MY customers certainly expect their
inexpensive jewelry purchases to be functional, and for some time.
As do I! A necklace should clasp correctly and stay in place around
the customer’s neck regardless of whether it is a $5, $50, $500 or
$5,000 necklace. The difference is in the materials. I expected,
at the price I paid, and with the Rio catalog description, the
materials I received. No shock nor unhappiness there. I just
expected function and no damage also.

My original post is at

Thank you.
Beth in SC who is still undecided on what bench to get but hopes
whatever it is will arrive undamaged and functional


I’ve just gotten back from a week away and saw your post. Could you
= please tell me what you have and what price you’re looking for? I’m
in Bucks County PA and could drive up pretty easily for the right

Things I’m looking for or considering include:

– Used bench

– Foredom in GOOD WORKING ORDER (I have 2 broken ones currently and no
local repair options)

– Stakes, punches, etc.

– Casting equipment (silver casting)

Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

Dear Beth, I apologize if I offended you in any way when I mentioned
that “if you were willing to up your budget you could probably find
exactly what you want in a bench.” I did not mean that in any
offensive manner. I just wanted you to know that we do offer other
benches designed to fit your specific needs.

But unfortunately all of our deluxe benches are more expensive. Now
functionality wise if the standard bench can fit your needs, then it
should be sufficient. What makes the standard bench less expensive
is, the material used, (pressed board vs… solid wood) which more
fragile to withstand rough handling, and the fact that we make these
in a production line compared to making our custom benches in our
custom shop where every bench is made to order. I have looked at
several other scenarios on how you might have gotten a less than
perfect quality Moderna workbench. After looking at the facts
presented by you and the fact that the exterior of the box had no
signs of distress, We conclude that it may be possible that the bench
Rio sent to you could have been repackaged by Rio not to be sold as
new or the bench was returned to Rio and repackaged without thorough
inspection and put back on the shelf for resale by accident.
Sometimes “not often” our dealers take back product as part of their
exceptional customer service, and if there is damage to the product
they either try to repair it themselves and sell it As Is or send it
to the manufacturer for repairs or replacement. It could be that the
bench you received was meant to be sent back to us and it was
accidentally put back on the shelf for resale. Rio is an excellent
supplier of quality Jewelers supplies, and is not in the business of
reselling less than perfect product. I am sure this was an oversight
and I can assure you that you will not receive another Moderna bench
in the same condition unless there is evident exterior damage to the
packaging. I can assure you this was an isolated incident and will
not reoccur. If you have any concerns or comments please do not
hesitate to contact me.


Gary Atachian
Moderna Inc.

Hello Gary,

I’ve managed to keep my communications with Beth off line, in an
effort to make sure that we met her needs as quickly and effectively
as possible, and I am sure we are on our way to resolving her
dissatisfaction with the bench. However, I need to make sure that
it is perfectly clear that the bench Beth received was ABSOLUTELY NOT
repackaged nor used.

At Rio, we do not repackage and resell returned equipment or tools
products. Returned products come into a segregated area of the
warehouse, and we have processes in place to ensure that they will
not get confused with regular inventory. If an item is received
damaged from the vendor, it goes into a quarantine area of the
warehouse. And as a matter of policy we only offer “re-sale” or
"reconditioned" items to our walk-in customers or at our annual tent
sale, where customers get an appropriate discount and an opportunity
to view the reconditioned or re-sale items prior to purchase.
Actually, most of our reconditioned equipment and supplies go to a
few local high schools with excellent jewelry arts programs – there
is nothing more gratifying than giving a few skids of equipment to an
overworked art teacher.

While I appreciate you giving us the benefit of the doubt, it is
still incorrect. No oversight occurred. Beth received new product
that was not satisfactory, and we need to fix it. We are moving
things along quickly to ensure she receives a satisfactory
replacement in quick order.

Rather than bother the fine folks of Orchid further with this issue,
if you wish to discuss it further I invite you to contact me directly
at, or feel free to give me a call.

Best Regards,

Andrea M. Hill
The Bell Group – an employee-owned company
7500 Bluewater Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87121
505.839.3033 ph
505.839.3032 fx

 I apologize if I offended you in any way when I mentioned that "if
you were willing to up your budget you could probably find exactly
what you want in a bench.

Dear Gary,

As I read your response, it seems that you’re not willing to stand
behind the quality of your lesser expensive benches. I hope my
conclusion is incorrect.

I would think, any bench, at any price would be “exactly what we
want in a bench”, of course, a few more drawers are always nice.

I bought several benches, and none from Rio none yours, and all
arrived in excellent condition and have been functional for many
years. Warmest regards,


One of the best things about the Orchid list is that if one reads
the responses to others problems, one finds out how to avoid the same
problem. Because truth will out always…all you have to do is wait.


I want to stress that my problems have all been with the bench
itself, and NOT with Rio! Rio has, from the get-go, been wonderful
about the whole thing. When I found the first problems they
immediately offered to have the bench picked up and replaced, or to
give me a discount. At that point I thought all the damage was
largely cosmetic, and went for less down time and took the discount.
Only as I started to actually put the bench together did I discover
that, in fact, the damage was such that the bench was not useable.
When I called Rio back they immediately agreed to send a call tag,
and Fed Ex came and got the bench.

Andrea Hill of Rio e-mailed me privately over the weekend, when she
caught up on her Orchid reading. She even gave me her cell number
and urged to me to call her over the weekend! THAT is customer
service, BIG TIME! She has been working with her Customer Service
Department this week to expedite the arrival of my replacement bench,
which should arrive next week. Rio has been wonderful, and then
some, and I have NO complaints with them at all!

I elected to try, once more, the Moderna bench - even though I have
not much appreciated Gary’s tone in his posts. I’m buying the bench,
not the company president, and the bench design is exactly what I
think I want (won’t know for sure until I live with it!), and I
haven’t found anything else that is. If this one is not right, I
think I’m going with a Stuller bench (thanks Andy for sending the
info and photos!) - it is almost what I want, it is in my price
range, and I could live with it.

Thanks for all the supportive comments and e-mails, and especially
to those who responded to my original request to comment on some
specific inexpensive benches I was looking at as possibilities. I
did NOT hear from anyone with an inexpensive Moderna, and would still
love to know what you think of your bench if you have one! The
higher-priced ones seem to please their owners, but that is not where
I want to put my money right now. I’ld rather buy more silver and

Thanks again to all.

Beth in SC who is hoping the new bench will actually be made
correctly and arrive intact