I have a question about the proper height for a jewelers bench.
I recently purchased a beautiful, wooden, full-size bench from an
estate sale. It came with an adjustable chair, but while sitting at
the chair’s lowest level, my knees bang into the bottom (permanent)
drawer of the bench. My husband suggested raising the entire bench
onto wooden blocks, but then the bench top would be too high to work
Hopefully, someone will have a suggestion so I can use this
wonderful addition to my studio.
Are you “rather tall”? The first thing is good ergonomics. Your
thighs should be parallel to the floor for sitting comfort. That
will RAISE YOU up, so yes, blocks to raise the desk higher is good.
I also went through struggles until I found out the optimal
conditions for myself- here is my example, hope it helps… I am 160
cm tall, and my wood workbench is custom made almost by myself.
The height of the top plane of my workbench is 94cm. (In fact I
used to use it at 90cm for the past three years, was never entirely
happy with it until addition of 4cm thick wooden blocks to the bottom
of legs solved the problem! During that uneasy time, I hung a leather
sheet under the top plane to catch filings.)
The bottom of the drawer (to catch filings) is at 59.5cm level.
My adjustable chair ranges 40 to 54cm in height. I normally work
at its lowest level (40cm) which leaves about 10cm space between the
bottom of the drawer and my thighs. Even when I raise the chair to
its highest 54cm level, I can comfortably push myself front, towards
I have two other wood plates between the top panel and the bottom
drawer; On the upper one at 83cm level, I put soldering blocks. The
lower one is at 76cm level where I can put small hand tools, or do
some fabrication works. These two plates are set with a kind of wood
rails on sides, so that I can slide them front and back easily.
I believe it is certainly worthwhile to go through the hustles of
figuring out your settings. If you are interested to look at the
photos of my workbench by any chance, please contact me. Good luck!
Did you consider removing (permanantly) the bottom drawer and
replace it with a bench skin?
It does the job and it is comfortable.
I am very tall and when I bought my first bench height was a
problem. I found a 93cm high bench with a very small drawers and a
bench skin. I have an adjstable chair plus I keep a very low stool
(around 35cm high) in the workshop when I need to work with the bench
at my shoulder level.
Another suggestion is to try one of these back freindly stools, the
type where you actually kneel on.Your knees won’t be in the way
anymore. It is adjustable in height and it is padded on the kneerest
and the bottomrest. I tried one of these stool at a freinds desk and
found it very comfortable.
I hope you 'll find a solution since it would be sad not to use such
a beautyful bench
Aix en Provence, France
My bench height is 38 inches and my chair seat is 18 inches from the
floor. My bench is the standard economy model. I’m 6’2" and that
puts the bench pin right at my heart which is the proper height I
Looking at pictures of me working at my bench I think I look like a
gorilla stuck at a small school desk. My knees are just millimeters
from the bottom tray and if I’m not careful and get up too fast I
can send the contents flying.
So plans to make a Frakenbench out of an existing desk that is such
heavy, solid wood it won’t come out of the basement unless I take it
apart. It nearly did me in when we were moving it downstairs and the
helpers on the other end lost their grip. All I remember was my feet
sliding down the stairs backwards, the light blocked out by the
enormous desk gaining momentum, and my life flashing before my eyes.
We came to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. Both of us uninjured.
It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The desk came to a stop
on its end and blocked their view of me from upstairs. My wife, one
of the helpers, softly asked, “Rick? Are you OK?” I waited a few
moments to see if she shouted “Yippee” and mad a mad dash to find my
accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy. I eventually
let her off the hook and responded, “I think so.”
Just another incident in my accident prone life.
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I have found that you want the top of the bench just below shoulder
height. The idea being that when working at your bench pin you want
to be able to keep your torso fairly straight. You will bend your
neck a bit, but not too much. This is a good working position for the
endless hours you spend at the bench. I have built about a dozen
benches and purchased one and all of the bench tops were about 40
inches off of the ground. The thing is that everybodys body is
different and you do need to adjust the height so you can work
comfortably. So the blocks may be a good idea. An adjustable chair is
This is a link to the bench I purchased about 8 years ago. It was
suggested by a guy who used to post on Orchid, George Fox, as a bench
that middle aged goldsmiths should spoil themselves with…and I just
love it. It has it’s dimensions listed.
I have 4 benches in my studio, they are all between 34and 39" high
the watchmakers bench is the tallest at 39" and the antique treadle
bench is 34" the main bench that I use is 36" tall, it has a GRS
benchmate set up on it. The chair at that bench is 15" off of the
ground. A good rule of thumb is that when you are sitting at your
bench, with the bottom of your elbow on the bench, your upper arm
should be parellel with the floor. This should be a good height for
soldering and general bench work. If I am stone setting or
’attempting’ to engrave, I tend to be over the work alittle more. So
I may raise the chair or lower the work. It sounds like you may have
a model makers bench with 2 or 3 drawers in it. I would probably
raise it up alittle and experiment with it. Keep in mind it it were
used by a stonesetter or engraver that used an engravers ball it
would probably be a bit low for most people.
The reason I have the different benches is so I can work at
different levels from time to time. It is good for my neck and
shoulders. Also I love the looks of old tools and historic benches. I
hope this helps you, enjoy your new bench as you make it yours…if
it could only talk.
wayne werner baltimore md
Thank you David, Akiko and Juliette for your fast responses to my
dilemma! I am rather tall (5’ 10’’) so many of your suggestions could
I’m concerned about removing the bottom drawer, because it is
resting on wood that is permanently attached to the bench, so removal
might weaken the entire structure. I would love to see the photos of
Akiko’s bench. And, is a bench skin a piece of fabric that can be
Also… There are 2 slats just under the bench top that have
long pieces of wood which can be pulled out or pushed in flush with
the bench. Is that for adding an additional work surface?
So many questions!
It boils down to what’s comfortable. For awhile a few years ago I
was on a high bench and I couldn’t stand to sit there. I couldn’t see
the tools scattered about the benchtop much less the work itself. The
quality of my work suffered because I just could not see what I was
really doing. Its a pain to have to stand up just to check alignment
for soldering and so forth.
I have a hibachi style of working, flinging tools around and
whatnot. I need to see everything. Now that I’m back on the lower
bench (33") I’ve used for 30 years it just FITS, ya know? I’d rather
be hunched over looking down at the work.
Yet there are people just the opposite, need to be eye level with the
work. Try the blocks, find what’s best.
The rule of thumb is that the top of the bench should be armpit
With the chair and blocks under the legs, the adjustment can be made
which will ensure that you have a comfortable and ergonomic bench at
which to work.
If after these adjustments the drawer still hits you in the legs,
then just relocate the drawer.
Da Gama Designs
One way you can find out what height suits you is to get hold of a
simple, old fashioned typists chair - one on which the centre
spindle is screwed and will wind right down low. Now with the chair
wound right down, sit on it up to a normal table and mess about with
a few things as if you were making jewellery. Then wind the chair up
a bit and try again. Repeating this will tell you where you want the
bench in relation to your upper body and, at that point, you can
measure the height of the chair seat. Now move away from the table
and wind the chair up to a height where your legs are comfortable -
maybe sit and watch TV for a while to make sure you are going to be
comfortable sitting for long periods like that. Again measure the
height of the chair seat and, adding the difference between the two
seat heights to the height of your table will give you the ideal
height for your bench. (If you can’t get hold of a chair that winds
down far enough, put blocks under the table legs to start with).
Ian W. Wright
And, is a bench skin a piece of fabric that can be attached ?
A bench skin is piece of leather, about 1 squaremeter, smooth side
up attached under the bench so it is between your knees and the bench
surface. take a look at the bench exchange pages you’ll get it better
than I could write it.
You can purchase bench skin in most jewellery tool suppies but mine
in simply a piece of an old leather sofa screwed directly in in the
legs of my bench… Avoid fabrics because the metal filings will be
stuck in it and it is easily pierced by tools.
here you go…