I’m working on designing a new studio area and I’m trying to plan my
benches. In doing so, I’ve come to the realization that every bench
I’ve seen in the bench exchange has a chair or someone sitting. I
currently work with wire and I do some fabrication with sheet and on
the whole I much prefer standing to work. I have my bench set up
currently so that everything I do is standing except when I’m using
the jeweler’s saw. I plan on extending more fully into smithing and
soldering as well as lampworking. Am I crazy to think I can do most
of these things standing? Would it be detrimental to build my
benches at a height comfortable for standing? Does everyone out
there in Orchidland sit while working?
My situation was slightly different but my solution might help you.
I bought a standard bench and I raised it about 8" on a wooden frame.
I then bought a higher than usual chair (I use a foot stool when
sitting) this allows me to sit or stand not only at the bench but
also at my other work stations. My reasoning was I wanted to spend my
money on one really great chair and make it work in as many
situations as possible.
Nope, you’re not crazy. I actually do most of my work standing.
Pretty much the only things I sit for are sawing and soldering and
unusually long polishing jobs, where I need to be able to “brace” my
moving parts to keep them from moving so much
I find that I can work much longer at a stretch when I am mobile,
moving between standing at my workbench, sitting to solder (across
the room), and generally being more active. When I’ve worked at an
area where things were more compact and seated, I found that fatigue
set in much more quickly.
Just an addendum to my previous comment… I woke up in the middle
of the night with the thought that some of my students might feel
that I’d disparaged their work with my reference to whether they
remained standing or sat down while they worked, and I just wanted to
make clear that it was not my intent. In fact, Terrie and I had a
discussion about the development of some technological solutions to
the problem, in which she suggested some alternatives that would make
my working methods more accessible from a sitting posture. The main
problem is that when one works with very long pieces of wire, there
has to be a way to move it lengthwise without work-hardening and
marring it, and standing up and backing away from an anchor is the
best strategy I’ve found.
Everyone I know sits at the bench. Your feet have to be free to work
the foot pedals on the foredom. I do have a knee switch that
controls my wax pen and I do my forging and raising standing. Life
at the bench is in a chair and I recommend you spend the money and
buy a really good one that adjusts tilt, height, back support, and
arm rest height. Frank Goss
Hi Carrie: When I did metalsmithing classes at the local community
college, all of the work benches were geared to standing - there were
adjustable height swivel stools so you could sit when sawing (or
doing other things) if you chose. In particular the two large
soldering stations were geared for standing. I loved it. Was quite
comfortable standing and wish that I had high enough work benches at
my home studio. There is much more freedom of movement when you are
standing. I didn’t get as tired as I do when I am sitting down the
whole time. If this is what you like, then do it. It’s your studio.
I don’t think so. I work standing up as much as I can, though my
soldering station is too low for me to do that – maybe I’ll raise
it, now that I think of it. The main reason, for me, is that I’m
used to working with long pieces of wire, which I have to be able to
stretch out straight and pull against a support. In my workshops, I
find that my students who remain standing produce much better work
than the ones who drag up a chair and want to sit in one spot while
Does everyone out there in Orchidland sit while working? :)
Carrie…You do what makes you feel most comfortable. Some
activities require sitting, others are more successfully accomplished
when you stand. Nowhere is it written in stone “Thou shalt not
stand!” People adjust their work areas to accommodate their own
physical needs and (hopefully) avoid doing damage to their backs,
wrists, eyes, etc. so they can go on producing beautiful things for
years to come. An adjustable-height chair is a good adjunct to any
studio just in case your feet wear out during a project.
Loren, Morning and Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers on
this list. About sitting vs standing, it all comes down to what you
are doing at that moment. I would love to stand while at the
computer some of the time, when doing the wonderful wire work
you do and also teach so very well, I know a combination of both
would work. Some backs can hurt when in the position too long,
especially when we are not erect.
I still feel a fixed wire feed possibly from above, and the ability
to rotate the jig as needed to direct the wire into position around
the pins prior to the weaving would make for neater curves.
The bracelet I made when you taught at Sam Patania’s lovely shop in
Tucson, is worn frequently and commented upon positively.
I'm working on designing a new studio area and I'm trying to
plan my benches. In doing so, I've come to the realization that
every bench I've seen in the bench exchange has a chair or someone
sitting. I currently work with wire and I do some fabrication with
sheet and on the whole I much prefer standing to work. I have my
bench set up currently so that everything I do is standing except
when I'm using the jeweler's saw. I plan on extending more fully
into smithing and soldering as well as lampworking. Am I crazy to
think I can do most of these things standing? Would it be
detrimental to build my benches at a height comfortable for
standing? Does everyone out there in Orchidland sit while working?
I do most of my working while standing, but I also do it out on my
balcony. One of these days, I’ll get a picture up in the bench
I will say, however, that in the peculiar form of glass lampworking
practiced by those who work with neon, everything except for glass
welding is done standing up. By further comparison, woodworking
generally has much that is done standing up.
If you are used to it, it’s probably a good thing. It gives you a
lot more mobility, a much better ability to leap away from a sheet of
flames from a misconfigured burner so as to not roast one’s hair
(voice of experience here), and is probably more egronomic for many
operations. I find that in fine-detail work you are often hunched
over anyways and should just sit down.
The only benefit to sitting down is that people generally sit at the
same height, but stand at different heights.
I can tell you from my personal experience at my bench, and being an
individual who has had 4 - failed spinal fusions in the last 4
years, chronic back pain , and cubital nerve syndrome ( elbow nerve
problem much like carpal tunnel ) I have tried many different ways to
work at the bench, and none are perfect for me.
I made an attachment for a ergo office chair I purchased from Sams
Wholesale club for $90. its a chest rest pad so I can put my upper
weight on it when my lower back is killing me. I also have made
forearm pads that attach to my bench that let me rest my arms while
working with my hands. Not perfect but it does work.
I also have a stool in the area in case I want to sit/stand. This
way I can use the stool if I need it while I work at the buffer,
casting table which are on taller benches.
My main bench is build for accommodate my height, 6’4" and the
other 2 benches are also higher than what would be considered normal
working height by commercial manufactures.
I also have made forearm pads that attach to my bench that let me
rest my arms while working with my hands. " My main bench is build
for accommodate my height "
I have modified both of my benches to include arm rests.
If you can remove , or take the screws securing the top of your
bench, you can make up an additional thickness of a top which will
include four ( in my case ) pull out arm rests as well as a
replaceable bench pin.
Both of these benches had been around as long as I had, but were well
made and were amenable to remodeling.
So - You can build up the top and improve the arm rests .