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Shop set up

hi there, i am a newbie to jewellery making. over the past few years i have bought stuff i thought to set up in my shop (basement). things like lapidary tools and casting tools, along with my jewellers desk. does anyone know in what order your shop be set up? for example, my jewellers desk then drill press then soldering station then, grinders etc…,.,…recently retired, mary…

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Let what you make drive the design. I have rebuilt my shop a number of times as a result of moving. When we moved into our current house 22 years ago I built a U shaped shop so that everything would be in reach. It was efficient, but I never moved. As I have gotten older, and need to move more, I opened up my shop to make me move from station to station. I posted pictures of my shop right after I cleaned it a couple weeks ago. Look at them to see my set up. Keep in mind that it is in part to make me move and I am also left handed…Rob

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great suggestion Rob. i think i’ll need to unbox everything to remind myself of what i have and then either lay it out somewhere or re-box and label everything. once that is done i’ll have an idea of what storage units/table (more of) that i’ll need. to start setting up! at least i have a better idea of which direction to go. i live in an old farm stead. Mary…

Shop layout is critical, more so depending on the shape and space you have. Brother Rob has the benefit of a large space to move about in. For years my shop was essentially 5’ x 7’. Think of three standard sized bathtubs setting side by side.
In that space I had a 60" x 24" bench with a small degree of storage overhead, a soldering station with pickle underneath, a stand for my Genuine Made in India Economy Rolling Mill, and Presto-lite torch chained to the wall beneath the bench. I polished at a different location.

The size of the space limited me doing almost all my various processes on the bench.

Last year I built a 10’ x 12’ shop space in a small addition to the house. To what I described for the first shop space I have added a separate station for just assembly, a sink, a ventilated polishing station, My anvil is now on a stump (Rob’s design, look at his photos) and I have a 2’ x 3’ rolling bench with heavy duty locking casters that carries my Genuine English made Durston Rolling Mill, my shear, and arbor press.

And I am right handed.

If you have the benefit of building a space be mindful of openings in the walls. A door opening into a space is a thief of space. Think 9 sq. feet you can’t use for anything. I found it best to stick it in a corner of the room. Windows are great for light and air but typically they are too low for a shop. In mine I set the window 40" off the floor so I had space for a bench to run under the window. A good guitar hangs on one wall. And I have more outlets in the shop than I have in any three other rooms in the house.

One change I may make is to create a polishing station out doors. Maybe an outhouse looking device someplace that is convenient to the shop but still close enough to embarrass my wife and scandalize the neighbors and still fit in the building code. Be aware of you code requirements as well as what your insurance people may require.

Good luck and to Rob’s point, don’t think this will be your only configuration. Expect that you will alter your layout as you learn to work in your space.


thank you Don. your thoughts are well received. my room is 12’ by 12’ by 6’ high. i have 2 foot stone walls so setting up the shelves will be challenging. also there is a two by three foot window by the ceiling and another 2 by 2’ window leading into a crawl space under the kitchen. the door is 3 feet wide and 6 feet high. i went out and bought steel racks that fit floor to ceiling but need more to surround 3 walls. the rack can hold 4800lbs. this would allow wood shelves and strength for hammering on it, when needed.

Hi @bevplewes007 I’ve only been smithing for about six years, and self taught - but I have set up two different studios now and am currently building a new one in my power shed (7’/7’/8’)

I have already learnt a lot from experience and improved what works. And I’m sure I’ll be changing lots more in the years to come as I adjust the studio to my needs.

A couple thoughts: consider what you’re kind of work you’re going to be doing predominantly. Casting, forming and so on.

And then I basically set my tables up according to that work flow (like a kitchen, where you usually try to have the stove/sink/and fridge in a triangle orientation because you swing back and forth between those three items the most)

Everything is kind of in a U around me, dictated by the size of the room. So if I’m seated at my main jewelers desk where I do assembly and fabrication , polishing then I swing to my left and I’ve got a soldering station set up then again to the left and I’ve got a lower area with my anvil for forming and such. It allows me to swing back and forth between annealing and working the metal easily. Then a few steps to the left again and I’ve got a standing bench with my drill press, tumbler etc

Hope that helps!! I might share photos when I finish building my current studio :slight_smile:

I’ve made all my benches myself, so customized the height of each one for my height specific, depending if I wanted it to be standing height or more comfortable to do heavy forging on, which I made lower etc - you can google "work bench height " info. I found it very helpful to reference and of course considering your own height. An inch can make a big difference in the ergonomics

I also have overages storage wherever I could fit it!

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thank you anna. i googled “building work bench” and found free bench plans from it looks interesting. i just spent part of today re-stacking totes and throwing out refuse from the other half of the basement. this will give me room, to store re-boxed tools/stuff. it will take me a couple of days/weeks to do this. thanks, mary…

Hi Mary, and welcome to Ganoksin.

When I started making jewelry, I had certain pre-conceptions about what I’d be doing and set up my workspace accordingly. As my interests and focus changed, so has my studio. Many times.

I’d recommend you think “modularly” so you can easily move things around as you learn how you work, and what you need where. As an example, I put all my forming hammers on hooks in a cabinet on the wall. Each time I’ve moved those, I only had to move the cabinet, not all those individual hooks.

Best of luck,

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No worries Mary, I second Alec’s statement, you’ll move and change things a number countless times. Ps. I also made two of my benches wall mounted. I like it because it keeps the floor uncluttered and I don’t bang my knees when I swing around on my stool - but might be a way for you to work around the stone part of your wall with some shelving or something? good luck!

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thanks everyone for your generous input. all good thoughts to think on. shelves hanging from the ceiling joists sounds great! large work table in the centre of the room. my steel shelves along one wall. i also have old strong hard wood dressers for storage along two walls. seems things are coming together. thank you all. mary…

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hi guys, just an update. between back to work part time, i’m still re-boxing at this point among other household jobs. i need more shelves along one wall so i priced steel racks at Costco for $109.00 Canadian currency. holds 4800lb. I believe this is a great price (if overkill on the weight). will keep you guys up to date in the upcoming weeks. Thank you, write soon, Mary…