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Workbench accessory measurements and custom planning


#1

Hey there,

My father and I have decided to take on the task of building my first
jeweler’s bench. His father was a professional carpenter, and my dad
has the skills as a result of his upbringing. So it’s not the skills
we’re worried about - it’s the decisions!

We’re looking to start drawing out our own, custom plans. With that
said, I need some help! If you can answer any of the following
questions (more like pleas!), I’d be much appreciated. Personal
preferences are welcomed and encouraged!! (The question in bold is
the most critical structurally, but they’re all pretty important.)

-In addition to bench pins, what are some other common jeweler’s
bench accessories that might need holes in the side of the bench for
insertion/use and removal?

-What are the standard size of these holes made in the workbench for
tools such as bench pins?

-Which material is preferred for the top of the bench - wood,
Masonite, etc.

-The sweeps drawer seems so far down on many benches. Is this
desirable?

-Belly hole/no belly hole?

-Tool holders/Drawers?

Any other advice is totally welcomed! This will be the bench I have
to use for years to come, so I want to do it right!!

Thanks so much in advance. I’ve found some great info on the forum
so far, but have never posted till now.

-Jess V.


#2

How great it is to design what will become a permanent part of your
life.

I have had two permanent benches. One was in three sections, 8 feet
long. I loved it, I had three work stations. One for the hot stuff,
one for the everyday work (mine), and a section that was kept
organized that I used for students.

My present bench is 6 feet wide, built by a dear friend, and it will
out live me and the house I am in. It has only two work stations.
One is set up withfireproof brick, and is my hot zone. The other
side is where I tend to gather stuff that needs doing. I do not like
this as well as the old bench, but Ijust did not have the 8 foot
area. I tend to fill my section up with repairs, orders, student
trays…on and on, long story short. Every day I work atmy student
tables where I have 4 work stations and one of them has become mine.

What I have noticed is that a bench becomes personalized over time.
What I wished I had was a chain where all of my wires and things can
hang, so all I could do is pull, measure and cut. Oh well, next time.


#3

Hope this helps

I prefer, so that you sit with your back nice and straight, important
when you are sitting for hours, height of the top should be between
36" and 40" from the floor. The higher the better. I prefer the 1/2
round cut out 22" across 11" radius and a fitted tin with rails to
hang my favoured pliers and snips on.

Regards
Hamish


#4
-In addition to bench pins, what are some other common jeweler's
bench accessories that might need holes in the side of the bench
for insertion/use and removal? 

Arm rests, slide out arm rests = awesome.

-What are the standard size of these holes made in the workbench
for tools such as bench pins? 

Buy a bench pin, and make the hole to go with it. It’s a rectangular
shape.

-Which material is preferred for the top of the bench - wood,
Masonite, etc. 

Mine happens to be a laminate top, light blue, on an otherwise dark
wood bench. Nice for keeping clean.

Oh, another terrific my bench has is a slide out flat surface – for
writing invoices, for example. Extremely handy.

-The sweeps drawer seems so far down on many benches. Is this
desirable? 

Yep. It’s supposed to be just above your lap.

Check out the book on benches by Charles Lewton Brain, probably
quite helpful.

Also, look at the bench exchange pictures on Orchid. My picture is
up there, and it’s also on my blog, in the category my studio/my
jewelry, if you want to see it.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com/


#5

I’m looking at making a bench (about time), so I can tell you what
I’m thinking of doing. A bit of a think tank will help me get mine
together.

Mine is going to be built in, and 6 foot long. It will have a
soldering/ casting station, an area for pickle, and will have fume
extraction.

-In addition to bench pins, what are some other common jeweler's
bench accessories that might need holes in the side of the bench
for insertion/use and removal? 

You can buy a screw on bracket (I picked up one of these), and don’t
need to carve a hole into your bench top. Depending on your finances
you could look at the GRS systems. I’ve also bought a peg, that
simply clamps onto the table.

-What are the standard size of these holes made in the workbench
for tools such as bench pins? 

Standards???

-Which material is preferred for the top of the bench - wood,
Masonite, etc. 

Wood in nice, depending on the species, some species don’t like heat
at all. A nice heavy top, I’m thinking hard wood, so that it can
support some shelves for storage of tools, metal etc.

-The sweeps drawer seems so far down on many benches. Is this
desirable? 

Well you’re making the bench, I’m thinking that a sweeps drawer has
to be convenient, so if you drop your work you can easily retrieve
it.

I was thinking of a system that would allow gravity to let the
lemmel fall into a bag, but having to retrieve you project from a bag
of lemmel is not a good idea, so I will drop that feature.

-Belly hole/no belly hole? 

Yes, they have this where I’m learning, and I’m used to it now.

-Tool holders/Drawers? 

I’ll have a couple of 9kg propane cylinders under my bench, but
there will still be room for other things, and drawers are always
useful.

Any other advice is totally welcomed! This will be the bench I
have to use for years to come, so I want to do it right!! 

I’m building mine as minimal, as I can. I thinking stainless steel
pipes, with stainless steel flanges, some steel to support the bench
top.

If I need a set of drawers, I can just slide a pre-built set under.

The work top of mine will be 1 metre, I’m used to this with the
benches I’m using where I study.

Regards Charles A.


#6

Hi Jessica,

I made a mobile work bench for myself a while ago and I blogged on
the progress on my Orchid blog.

It starts about at this link and goes forward from there.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1rw

It sort of compasses an entire jewellery workshop, so I don’t think
it would be exactly what you aiming for.

Still, it might give you a couple of ideas.
Cheers, Hans


#7

Why don’t you get the “Jewelers Bench Book” by Charles Lewton Brain?
It is widely available and talks not only about what a bench looks
like, but how it is used.

Judy Hoch


#8

Height should be relative to your height - most people’s “ideal
height” would be way too high for my 5’ frame! Next, if you can, try
some benches. even just sitting at them and imagining yourself
working. I have a basic one from Rio with the metal lined tray.
would LOVE to have a cut out bench instead. I think lol! Might hate
it in practice - who knows? LOTS of shallow drawers. What I really
wish I had is a good hammer hanging place. I’ve seen in photos where
folks have added onto the side of their bench, or made a separate
hammer stand. I have mine in drawers, but would rather have them
hanging where I can group them by use, and see the heads easily!

Love, love, love Rio’s stack of drawers!!! Take a look and you might
want to incorporate something similar into your bench.

Enjoy!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#9

Here are my personal opinions:

In addition to bench pins, what are some other common jeweler's
bench accessories that might need holes in the side of the bench
for insertion/use and removal? 

besides a bench pin (I prefer the GRS removable pin for when I want
to lean closer in the the bench surface) I have a flex shaft stand
attached at the back right of my bench and a small vise at the front
left (I’m right handed). The holes predrilled into my purchased bench
don’t fit my mandrels

  • but I very much wish they did.
What are the standard size of these holes made in the workbench
for tools such as bench pins? 

don’t know the answer, but you can search the Rio Grande catalog,
for example, and see the bench pin sizes.

Which material is preferred for the top of the bench - wood,
Masonite, etc. 

mine is wood, but I suspect it would depend on what you use the top
for. Just remember to make it thick enough to support flex shaft or
hammering.

The sweeps drawer seems so far down on many benches. Is this
desirable? 

don’t put it so high that it interferes with your elbow, filing, saw
blade, etc., but yeah, I’ve often thought the low drawer makes
dropped objects bounce higher and travel further :-). More important
though is the height of the bench top, not the drawer. My drawer just
clears the top of my legs (without crossing them) so I ignore it.

Belly hole/no belly hole? 

guessing here (mine doesn’t have one), but would it depend on the
size of your belly? My biggest obstacle to moving closer to the bench
was the pin sticking out at me, hence the change to the GRS system.

Tool holders/Drawers? 

tool holders are probably a very good addition. But instead of on
the bench consider putting them on the wall behind the bench. My
bench always has on top, at a minimum: fles shaft holder, drill
stand, drill controls (I don’t like foot pedals), drill keys and a
punch, vise, small stand of mandrels, a clock, basic set of
polishers, small box of burrs, and 2 boxes for work in progress (in
various stages). The 3 drawers hold: 1-pens, measures and gauges,
2-tape, stones and small miscellaneous, 3-files, sand paper and
polishing cloths. On the opposite side I have a tower of 12 plastic
drawers for patterns, instructions, more hand tools, spare brushes,
burrs, drill, blades, metals and more - all within reach without
getting out of my (rolling) chair. An additional light source is on a
rolling stand behind my shoulder.

Mary Partlan
White Branch Designs


#10

Thank you to all who responded! You’ve all given me some wonderful
things to think about.

Thanks again,
Jess


#11
In addition to bench pins, what are some other common jeweler's
bench accessories that might need holes in the side of the bench
for insertion/use and removal? 

The 2 things I love the most on my bench are the little torch holder
and right beside it, my one-handed torch lighter with the spark
plug. I love being able to put my lit torch somewhere if I get into a
place where I need both hands for sec.

Also I have an extra GRS plate for my Wolf Belt sander, on the left
hand side of the bench. My husband made me a swinging holder for my
Foredom, that way I can swing it out of the way when using the
torch, both of which are on the right (I am right-handed).

Mary Ferrulli Barker
www.pianetajewelry.com


#12

Google frankenbench. Here’s the link, if I can get it to work.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1sk

Slightly wordy but clear instructions on how to make the cheapest
beginners bench you will ever need. I made one, it took just one
afternoon, and I love it!

There are also some great tips onlooking in guanosine website.
Enjoy.

Ingeborg


#13
My husband made me a swinging holder for my Foredom, that way I can
swing it out of the way when using the torch, both of which are on
the right (I am right-handed). 

That’s interesting. I am also right handed, but use my torch with my
left hand. This is so that I have better control of my solder pick,
which is in my right hand. I find that my left hand is good enough
for heating a piece all over (as in soldering sterling silver), and
for more accurate torch control, leaving my dominant hand for more
precise control of the solder pick. I tried it the other way round
but it didn’t work so well. I guess we all work differently, and not
everybody uses a solder pick, in which case, using the torch in your
dominant hand would work better.

Helen
UK


#14
I am also right handed, but use my torch with my left hand. This is
so that I have better control of my solder pick, which is in my
right hand. 

Like Helen I am right handed most of the time. Torches on the left
side work well and wouldn’t fit on the right side of my bench. If I
need to hold the torch in my right hand those long hoses come in
handy. Being close to not really having a dominant side comes in
very usefull at times.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#15

When I was at college, our jewellery benches were set up with the
soldering torches at the left, so that the right hand (my dominant
hand) could be used for fine manipulation such as placing paillons of
solder etc

I always teach my students to hold the torch in their left hand-
unless they are left handed, and need to use their ‘best’ hand for
fine manipulation. They often find it awkward at first, but soon get
used to it. My hearth is set up so the torch can be used in either
hand; I prefer to stand to solder, except when I use my microweld,
which is set up next to my bench.

Annette


#16

I always ask my students who are first using a torch to solder, " in
which hand do you feel most comfortable having the tool which can
destroy your work?"

I let each student decide which works best for them. For most of my
students, the torch is held in their dominant hand, under their best
control. That other hand, holding the solder pick LIKE A PENCIL,
with the lower portion of the hand and little finger braced on the
soldering fixture or bench top, can, with practice, learn to pick up
small solder balls and transport them to the spot needed.

The torch needs to be adjusted for the correct flame size and amount
of heat, and a strategy must be employed to put enough ( but not too
much ) heat where is it is needed, and none where it is not. There
are just so many critical decisions that need to be made about torch
use, and personally, I just can’t imagine relegating all that
responsibility to my left hand. ( I’m right handed…)

10 goldsmiths will have 10 different opinions on this question of
which hand should control the torch, and that is how it should be. My
focus is on first time torch users, and attempting to prevent melted
projects.

Standing up to solder? For many years I did bench work which
included many hours of soldering each day with a torch. I can’t
imagine standing to solder precisely under magnification for even an
hour, much less all day. Give me a comfy chair, sitting with both
feet on the floor, and I am a stable tripod, a position which works
for hours of precise work, provided you have your seat and bench
height configured to the most comfortable position while working.

Jay Whaley