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Starting a Barebones "Studio" at Home


#1

Hello:

I currently use the jewelry lab where I’ve attended classes, but
am considering setting up a very basic barebones bench at home,
most likely on the terrace, since I live in an apartment.

Are there any other beginners out there who’ve done this? And
if so, can you give your recommendations for basic equipment and
what alternatives you use, if any, for larger expensive
equipment (e.g. rollers, polishers, drills etc.)

I thought I’d start out with an old table for my bench, although
it may not be practical. I’m considering building a bench, as
per the instructions in the McCreight book.

Also, am looking for a source for ceramic blocks and lava
bricks.

Thank you all - for always being so helpful.

Mona

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#2
I currently use the jewelry lab where I've attended classes, but
am considering setting up a very basic barebones bench at home,
most likely on the terrace, since I live in an apartment.

Mona -

By terrace do you mean outside? I wouldn’t bother is that’s the
only place you have. You’ll have to move EVERYTHING indoors each
time you finish. Rain, even if the bench is set back and doesn’t
get wet, and humidity play havoc with tools. Even if you bring
all the tools back inside each time you’ll be spending precious
work time refinishing your tools. Stay with the lab until you
have a better indoor location.


#3

Hi Mona,

Good luck with your studio! That’s the way most of us get
underway.

Some hard-earned tips. You will likely have to make do with
less than optimal equipment, but don’t be slapdash about the
physical layout of your space and your workbenches. Purchase a
good adjustable-height chair. Raise your table heights so that
you are not hunching over. And plan your work so you stand for
some operations, sit for others; this forces you move around.
Oh yes, and make sure you have a very good exhaust system in
place.

These aren’t the “fun” things, and not to put a damper on
getting underway, but a career can get severely truncated by
health problems.

All the best,

Colleen
Canada


#4

Dear Mona:

I am in a very similar situation, I am also a beginner and have
a small scale studio at home. Being poor with no money, (as any
beginner) I do enough with this equipment:

Bench: an adjustable height foldup table bought at Sams, approx
$50.00 Good flexible shaft (invest good money into this, it is
worth it) Or, if you cannot afford that, buy a variable speed
dremel (to be honest, I have both and the dremel is a very handy
tool) You can purchase attachments for the dremel that will turn
it into a drill press that works pretty well.

complete set of small files, one large file and a good set of
pliers I use a acetylene/air torch (prestolite) I also invested in
a $50.00 third hand arrangement from Rio Grande tools that helps
me a lot (it is two high heat resistant clamps that can be moved
into any position with carbon tips) mounted on a base. The usual
assortment of tools such as burnishers, etc. If you can afford
it, the next essential tool is a good rolling mill ( I havent
been able to afford one yet but it will be my next investment)

Hope this helps
Bryan Steagall


#5

Hi Mona,

I take it you mean an enclosed terrace. Make sure it has proper
ventilation. Start by purchasing a torch and a flexshaft. The
Smith set-up with acetalyne with a B tank is pretty safe for home
use as long as you regularly check for leaks and shut it off and
release the pressure every time you use it. Your best bet is to
look for the torch set-up at a plumbing supply house rather than
via a jewelry supply co. Consider the basic Foredom CC or S.
Get an arm device to attach it to your bench. Check prices in
catalogs. Metaliferrous in NYC seems to always have a special
running on the S model.

Determine the kind of work you’re planning to do in the near
future to decide whether you need a rolling mill and tumbler
right away. Do a search of the Orchid archives – this past
month we had some discussions about inexpensive rolling mill
sources and tumblers.

An old butcher block table with stable legs would work well as a
jeweler’s bench. Make sure you attach a vise to it. If you’re
only going to purchase one, I suggest a Panavise – Thunderbird
has the best price I’ve seen for it. For items such as soldering
blocks, mandrels, draw plates, files, pliers, etc., I’m not sure
where you’re located so rather than recommending a local store,
I’d suggest you go through the catalogs, make up a wish list and
then compare prices. Check Rio, Thunderbird, and so on. Ideally
the table will be set up against a wall on which you can hang a
pegboard so that all your tools are organized and within reach.

Good luck, Rita


#6

Mona,

You’ll probably be inundated with suggestions on this, but I’ll
get the ball rolling.

First advice, get a bench or make one. The one in Tim
McCreight’s book is a very reasonable alternative to purchase and
can be modified to suit your particular needs. I tried starting
out on an old table but most tend to be too short (and I’m only
5’1"!); my back hurt, I tired easily and generally my work
suffered. I consider my bench my most important piece of
equipment.

Pickle pot - pass on the expensive ones in the catalogs and go
for a crock pot, preferably one with a removeable liner (easier
to clean and change pickle). You can either find one at a thrift
shop or buy one new for $20-30 at a discount store; again, try to
get one with a High/Low setting versus a single setting.

A flexshaft is well worth the initial investment; it fills the
functions of rough sanding, bur work, drilling and a host of
other things. You will negate the need for at least 3 other
tools, reducing clutter and ultimately saving money by having a
single unit to buy attachments for, knowing that you will be able
to continue to use them (not always true if you go with a variety
of ancillary tools).

Torch - figure out what you are going to use it for, not only
now but in the future, and get the setup that will handle the
maximum job you will EVER do. There’s nothing worse than
spending money twice because now you want to be able to repair a
chain or melt metal in a crucible and can’t do it without
investing in another piece of equipment.

For some larger and more expensive pieces of equipment I use the
ones at my local guild since I am a member; the number of times I
need to use them doesn’t make it worth the price at this point.
For transfering simple patterns to a piece, I often sandwich it
between two bench plates and crank down on them with a big
C-clamp, tightening it as far as I can and leaving it for a bit
then tightening it again and again until I achieve the depth I
want. Mostly I project what I want to use the equipment for and
take several projects at a time to reduce travel and turnaround.

For some really great tips and ideas on how to make/adapt some
of your own or garden variety tools, I strongly recommend Charles
Lewton-Brain’s book “Cheap Thrills In The Tool Shop”. He has
some really wonderful ideas that save money and time.

HTH,

Susan

C Gems

@C_Gems
http://www.pipeline.com/~schenoweth/


#7

When I lived in an apartment I had my workshop right in my
living room. I had a workbench, flex shaft hanging above, and
Prestolite tank below, and a small cabinet where I kept supplies
and on top of which I had my polishing motor. The motor I got at
an electrical surplus store for $5, put a tapered spindle on it,
and bought a little aluminum hood from Allcraft to catch dust.
It wasn’t the latest in interior design, but it certainly started
conversations.

Cheers,
Elizabeth

Elizabeth C. Wilkinson Los Alamos, NM

e-mail: @wilkinso


#8

I’m going through the same process at the moment. I was lucky,
and able to go beyond some initial plans, but perhaps the idea
might be of use to you. Make a small “bench” - say, 18" wide,
12" deep, and only 10" tall. That’s right - ten inches! put
this on a standard table when you want to work, and stow it away
the rest of the time. I still plan to do this at a later time
for a portable bench. Two or three drawers, and you are set.
As you outgrow it, you will probably have a better idea of what
you really need.

I also recommend you get a flex shaft. I am presently doing all
my polishing with one, as I have no place to put a bench
polishing setup. My flex shaft is on a rolling stand similar to
the ones they use in hospitals to hang bags of fluids from.

Good luck!

Marrin Fleet
@Marrin_and_Mary_Dell
Memphis, TN


#9

Interesting idea, Marrin, building a bench that fits on top of a
table. I’d suggest a bit larger and with a couple clamps to keep
it from moving around. Very interesting concept- if built to the
size of a regular bench, legs could be added later. 33-36" is a
good overall hight.

My father built two benches for me, from plans I sent him. They
are similar to the ones Frei & Borel sells with lots of shallow
drawers (the second one has them on the left, away from the
torch and flex shaft. The flex shafts are mounted on a wood post
built into the front edge of the bench. I also had my father mill
shallow areas into the top surface to hold parts and keep them
from rolling off the bench.

A flex shaft was an early purchase of mine, and the S or R
machines are worth the extra few dollars. I like the lucas foot
control. High quality tools are worth the extra money- you will
probably never replace them.

Rick
Richard D. Hamilton
Martha’s Vineyard
USA
Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

http://www.rick-hamilton.com


#10

For cheap tools & do-it-yourself supplies,
try American Science & Surplus

phone: 847-982-0870
web site: http://www.sciplus.com

Here are a few examples from their catalog:

100psi/20inch compressor/vaccuum pump – $79.50

1.5hp, 5100rpm variable speed treadmill motor – 39.50
(build your own bench grinder)

20 piece set diamond points – $15.00

10 pc riffler file set – $9.50

10 pc diamond drill bits – $ 7.50

10 pc diamond burs – $10.00

mini-anvil – $5.25

assorted pliers – $2.50 each

HTH

Tom


#11

Mona - I am still working in an inadequate studio but it CAN be
done. I go along with almost everything already suggested to
you. A good flexshaft is vital. I have worked for 3 years with
a variable speed dremel which has been OK but does have
limitations. However, you can find less expensive machines than
the Foredom. I just found a local source for the Pfignst
flexshaft. It cost me about $175 with a 330 handpiece. I also
must stress that I have found a makeshift bench, soldering table,
used welding torch (acetelyne like the Presto-lite), and a used
pneumatic chair at a thrift store. You just need to be thrifty
and look around alot. Best of luck…Gini


#12

Hi Mona,

Someone mention a Dremel to substitute for a good flexshaft if
money is tight. If I may, I’d suggest taking a look at a Ryobi
Multi-tool. It is also a motorized hand tool. However, the motor
appears to be a permanent magnet motor and as such has the same
torque at the slowest speed as the highest speed. Dremel’s have
very little torque at low speed. The unit I have has a much
better ‘feel’ when it’s running, less vibration than the 2
Dremels I have. It uses the same collet system that Dremel’s use,
so finding bits e tc won’t be a problem. Another feature is a
seperate on/off switch & speed control. You can leave the speed
set when you turn the unit on/off. Now f or the best part, the
basic unit I got was only $29.95 at Home Depot. That included a
pkg of cut off discs, sanding discs & assorted sanding &
polishing points. I’m not connected with Ryobi, just like good
tools at honest prices.

Dave


#13

Mona-

Ditto on the Ryobi! On Dave’s recommendation I just purchased
one of the $29.95 Ryobi’s because I needed something right away
while my Foredom is being repaired. It is much better that the
Dremel I started with. In fact I was so impressed with it I
purchased two more as Christmas presents for non-jeweler friends.
If you can’t afford an expensive flex shaft right away this is a
good starter. (I think, maybe, the Dremel flex shaft attachment
may fit the Ryobi.

Merry Holidays!

Nancy
Bacliff, TX USA
@nbwidmer


#14

Good ergonomic advice from Colleen, even for those of us with
established studios! Moving from sitting to standing; chairs to
stools around the studio really helps my back from complaining
like it does from hours sitting in front of the computer (or any
other task)!

Thanks Colleen!

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com
http://www.sebaste.com


#15

My bench sets on top of a table. It is 44inches long, 13 inches
deep and 7 inches high. The bench has a 12 inch by 36 inch peg
board hinged to the back for tool storeage. There are three
drawers in it, 2- 12 inch shallow drawers_and one long drawer. I
have handles on each end that are used when moving the bench.

The 44" by 13" working surface is a piece of butcher block
counter I picked up at an auction. I built the bench around the
butcher block top.

Most desks and work benches used while sitting are 29" high.
With my 7" high portable bench, I have a 36" high jewelry bench.
This may give you some ideas for your bench. I like mine.

John Franklin


#16
 (I think, maybe, the Dremel flex shaft attachment may fit the
Ryobi.<<

No such luck! The threads on the Dremel are 3/4-12 & the Ryobi is
7/8-16. Ryobi does make a complete lne of accessories, including
a flexshaft attachment.

Dave


#17

You have gotten very good advice from every one . I will give
you a little trick I’ve learned for tranferring designe to a
item for cutting out or engraving or carving: Pick up some
artist vellum from your art store or office supply house you can
use this to trace onto or just for drawing … use a pencel not a
pen and draw or trace your design unto the vellum then take a
piece of scotch tape or for larger pieces clear packing tape and
press this onto the sketch, then lift the tape off the vellum the
tape picks up the pencel sketch and then you just stick the tape
with the sketch onto the metal and start your work! The vellum
will not stick and tear to the tape when you seperate the two
like most other papers. If you need a reverse say for a pair of
earrings, turn thevellum over and retrace the sketchon theback
side and repeat the process.

This is great for custom orders for people. I always do my
drawings to exact scale for the customer on vellum then When I
do the piece it always is exactly like the drawing they saw and
there is no misunderstanding between you and them. I know some
one will say that you can’t show the fine detail in a drawing
the exact size- they are right. but my expierence is that the
customer is much more happier when they come to pick up the
piece and see all the extra detail work like milgraining or
engraving details that you have added to their piece for no
extra charge, then they are when they come to pick up what they
saw which was much larger in the drawing and has shrunk in size
so much that now they need a magnafying glass to see.

Another piece of info I’ve developed over my 30+ years of custom
order work: always do a personality profile on your customer
before you do a drawing. It will save you endless hours of
drawing and guessing. This only takes a little practice and 3
questions… I rearly ever have to do more then 1 drawing for a
customer which cuts my time spent with them to 10-15 minutes.
Questions are

  1. If you won the lottery and Inherated standard oil Company all
    in the same day what type of car would you buy? you are single
    and have no obligations. you also have free gas ond oil.

  2. same situation: what style deram house would you build? Monye
    is no object…

  3. what type of furniture would you put in the Living room of
    this house?

1 Will tell you a little about shapes soft curves or blocky
style, flassy or conserviative, or suttle flash( mercedes sports
coup)

2 contempory or colonial style house:translates into contempory
style ring or terditional style

3 Living room is where you bring strangers into your house and
sit them down to talk… this reflects what they want to reflect
to the out side world. crome and glass= flashy lots of
sparkle,soft over stuffed furniture= comfortable every day wear
jewelry with soft lines and curves. Queen Anne furniture=
antique style with soft flowing curves like the carvings on the
furniture.Oriental style furniture= square shapes and designs to
reflect the oriental carvings.

when some one crosses over into more then one style you can
combine the styles into one piece.

I dhaven’t had to remake a piece of jewelry in years bacause they didn’t like
the piece when they came to pick it up.

Remember that when designing for a customer you are working for
them and may not be allowed to make what you would like to make
or design. Custom orders are sure sales and will pay for all
your toys and will give you the money to make what you like for
your display cases or personal jewelry box .

Hope this helps you save years of headaces Vernon WilsonFrom: owner-orchid@proteus.imagiware.com on behalf of C Gems
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 1997 8:25 PM
To: tmcaleer@msn.com; robweldon@msn.com; VernonGWilson@msn.com;
Gem_Wise@msn.com; smartdog@msn.com; GeorgeDebbie@msn.com; pridehome@msn.com;
BOLIVARSHAGNASTY@msn.com; ggraphix@msn.com; davidse@msn.com;
goldmaster@msn.com; tdwgold@msn.com
Subject: Re: [Orchid] Starting a Barebones “Studio” at Home

Mona,

You’ll probably be inundated with suggestions on this, but I’ll
get the ball rolling.

First advice, get a bench or make one. The one in Tim
McCreight’s book is a very reasonable alternative to purchase and
can be modified to suit your particular needs. I tried starting
out on an old table but most tend to be too short (and I’m only
5’1"!); my back hurt, I tired easily and generally my work
suffered. I consider my bench my most important piece of
equipment.

Pickle pot - pass on the expensive ones in the catalogs and go
for a crock pot, preferably one with a removeable liner (easier
to clean and change pickle). You can either find one at a thrift
shop or buy one new for $20-30 at a discount store; again, try to
get one with a High/Low setting versus a single setting.

A flexshaft is well worth the initial investment; it fills the
functions of rough sanding, bur work, drilling and a host of
other things. You will negate the need for at least 3 other
tools, reducing clutter and ultimately saving money by having a
single unit to buy attachments for, knowing that you will be able
to continue to use them (not always true if you go with a variety
of ancillary tools).

Torch - figure out what you are going to use it for, not only
now but in the future, and get the setup that will handle the
maximum job you will EVER do. There’s nothing worse than
spending money twice because now you want to be able to repair a
chain or melt metal in a crucible and can’t do it without
investing in another piece of equipment.

For some larger and more expensive pieces of equipment I use the
ones at my local guild since I am a member; the number of times I
need to use them doesn’t make it worth the price at this point.
For transfering simple patterns to a piece, I often sandwich it
between two bench plates and crank down on them with a big
C-clamp, tightening it as far as I can and leaving it for a bit
then tightening it again and again until I achieve the depth I
want. Mostly I project what I want to use the equipment for and
take several projects at a time to reduce travel and turnaround.

For some really great tips and ideas on how to make/adapt some
of your own or garden variety tools, I strongly recommend Charles
Lewton-Brain’s book “Cheap Thrills In The Tool Shop”. He has
some really wonderful ideas that save money and time.

HTH,

Susan

C Gems

cgems@pipeline.com
http://www.pipeline.com/~schenoweth/


#18
order work: always do a personality profile on your customer
before you do a drawing. It will save you endless hours of
drawing and guessing. This only takes a little practice and 3
questions....

Vernon, I only make jewelry as a hobby, no custom work or orders
but wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your insights on
how to ascertain the type of customer you are dealing with. It
was fascinating. Great questions, great post. Thanks again.
Rita


#19
   use a pencel not a     pen and draw or trace your design
unto the vellum then take a     piece of scotch tape or for
larger pieces clear packing tape and     press this onto the
sketch, then lift the tape off the vellum the     tape picks up
the pencel sketch and then you just stick the tape     with the
sketch onto the metal and start your work!

That’s a good one! Beats making a xerox of the drawing and
glueing it to the metal. I will have to try this next time.


#20

Dear People:

I have been following this section “Barebones Studio” with
interest, and have something to add as concerns design
transferral: use Mactac in the place of tape. The clear variety
works best for this, even though Mactac (or any one-side-adhesive
vinyl sheet/roll available at hardware stores) comes in several
colours, and not all are transparent. The reason for
transparency is this: I do my designing on a light table, a
near-indispensible designing tool for accurate image rendering. I
made my light table using a 1/2" thick, 28"x18" sheet of
plexiglass, set in a plywood frame that supports a 2’ fluorescent
light under the plexi; I put a piano hinge in the front edge of
the table, as the plexi frame is seperate from the table support,
in order to set the table flat, or at any angle, like a drafting
table. Simple, but very effective. Every designer should have
one. I recommend using a fine-point permanent ink acetate marker,
felt-tip, on the Mactac; the original sketch can be done on the
Mactac, or on thin bond paper which is then taped to the table
underneath the Mactac (don’t peel the paper backing off the
Mactac until you’re ready to transfer the completed design to the
workpiece!), which is taped over it. This method has had numerous
uses for me, anything from sign painting to fine saw work in
silver, and (here’s one for the sandblasted among us) as a resist
for sandblasting glass, etc. I used to spend hours drawing on
paper, then applying the tape to lift the nice pencil marks,
only to have the tape curl, stretch, and stick to itself, and
grumblegrumble… While scotch tape is great for small or
exceedingly fine works, Mactac is wonderful for anything over
1"squ. I hope you get to make your own light table, and try using
the Mactac method; it beats design transfers done on the kitchen
window by a mile.

Daniel P. Buchanan dan@nelsonhouse.com