Change, Innovation and Modification: A Jeweler's Bench
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    It began as an ordinary, stock jeweler's workbench. With additions, modifications and the occasional major makeover over a period of years, I hav… Read More
    It began as an ordinary, stock jeweler's workbench. With additions, modifications and the occasional major makeover over a period of years, I have transformed it into the single most vital jewelry-making tool I own. To call it a workbench doesn't do it justice: It's far more than that: it's a cockpit. Together with a few other pieces of workshop furniture which were or modified or built from scratch, this suite forms the heart of my metal arts studio. My bench was a years-long exploration into how to create the most effective user-interface (UI) for this jeweler and his tools. While at the bench, I was continually fascinated -- and often distracted by -- traditional bench features that inhibited my creative flow and hindered greater productivity. So I made change after change, sometimes undoing modifications that did not work, always in search of a better bench. My bench features: • vertical slide-out panels promote efficient tool storage and retrieval. • a unique "drain" system for sweeps. • a customized, positionable ventilation system to remove lung-damaging particulates. • a fold-away rack for pliers - accessible when needed, out of the way when not. • a unique, magnetically actuated saw blade dispenser • a finger-friendly "points down" needle file storage rack • elimination of the customary sweeps tray, which too often serves as a bottomless junk drawer for tools. • under-bench lighting, which opened up under-bench real estate for productive development. • high-capacity, low-profile drawers on slides replaced the bulky, space-wasting OEM offering • a European-style leather "bag" catches stray sweeps or roll-offs and doubles as a protective at-bench apron. • fully outfitted with industry-standard GRS Benchmate tooling. • quick-release latches for securing saw frames, arranged by blade size. • unique, fit-to-the-tool holders and mounts to secure my most frequently used tools in easy-to-reach, easy-to-return locations. My workbench has been prominently featured in jewelry industry press: • The Jeweler's Bench Book, By Charles Lewton-Brain - 2007 MJSA Press • Ever A Work In Progress, By Gerry Davies - MJSA Journal, April 2008 • Rack 'Em: Building an efficient pliers rack for your bench, by John de Rosier, MJSA Journal, October 2010 • This Bench Sucks (about ventilation), by John de Rosier, MJSA Journal, April 2013 I have also featured it on my website and blog: Read Less
Overview of the workbench. 1.) Dust removal system removes harmful particles. 2.) Phone mount allows me to stay connected while working. 3.) GRS Benchmate system installed. 4.) Under-bench real estate fully utilized with shelving, etc. 5.) Original, space-wasting drawers replaced with custom-made space-economizing alternatives. 6-7.) Custom-built vertical sliding drawers and shelves. 8.) Unique under-bench receptacle serves as "drain" for sweeps (metal dust, scraps).
9.) Custom-made swing-out plier rack makes efficient use of space - swings out when needed, folds away when not in use. 10.) European-style "bag" catches wayward bits and can double as an apron when called for. 11.) More slide-out storage. 12.) Rail-mounted carriage for wax pen system. 13.) Custom-made bur storage system.
Closeup view of bench cutout area. 1.) Ventilation hose can advance or be pushed back, and assembly can be positioned from right to left along a rail as needed. Entire assembly can be quickly removed, if necessary. 2.) Flush-mounted neodymium magnets secure scribers and other tools for easy access. 3.) Under-bench lighting revitalizes bench interior.
4.) Swing-out plier rack in stored position. 5.) Sweeps collection port. A "drain" cap ensures that only sweeps go into the receptacle (invisible here).
View of the bench interior, RHS. 1.) Various custom-made tool mounts. Top, a rack for digital vernier calipers. Lower, L-R: Plier clamp holster, sheaths for dividers and holster for Lindsay AirGraver pneumatic tool. 2.) Hose housing to prevent damage to pneumatic tool hose.
View of bench interior, LHS: 1.) My two most-used files. 2.) Swing-out plier rack in deployed position. 3.) Another view of sweeps "drain".
1.) Slide-mounted layout board. 2.) Plastic dustpan extension, made from a plastic windshield fluid jug. 3.) PVC holster for heat gun.
1.) Bees wax lubricant for saw blades, drills and burs. 2.) Neodymium magnets prevent small tools from rolling off the bench. 3.) Hooks secure flexible shaft cables so they don't interfere with drawers, but still facilitate intuitive release.
4.) Custom-built, shallow-profile drawers better serve my needs than the heavy-walled, space-wasting OEM offering.
1.) Mounted below the entire bench but still within easy reach, this flat drawer efficiently stores a host of important tools - files, flexible-shaft handpieces and more - for quick retrieval and easy return. Mounted on drawer slides for easy push/pull operation. 2.) GRS mounting plates on front for handy placement of GRS BenchMate accessories. 3.) Control pedals are mounted to a plywood platform to promote predictable foot placement and eliminate a tangle of pedals and cords. Included in the pedal suite (though not visible here) is a foot switch for controlling the bench dust collection system.
A closer view of the flat drawer. 1.) Files are color coded by cut (green is fine, red is medium, blue is coarse, etc.).
2.) Tool-specific receptacles precisely fit each tool for easy removal, rapid return and and secure storage.
3.) GRS fixed mounting plates for GRS BenchMate accessory storage.
RHS Vertical slide out drawer/shelf unit. 1.) Utilizes heavy-duty drawer slides for smooth, reliable operation.
2.) Internal shelves for storage. Lip installed on shelf edges for security.
1.) RHS Vertical drawer/shelf unit viewed in closed position. To the right, 2.) an old Ikea kitchen cart re-purposed into a rolling tool caddy. 3.) PVC tubes hold sanding sticks, sorted according to grit. 4.) A slide out layout board in closed position. 5.) A slide-out tool/file folder rack, in closed position.
1.) Tool cart with layout board deployed. 2.) Mounted on drawer slides for reliability and smooth operation.
Tool cart with tool/file rack deployed. 1.) File folders for sand paper, polishing paper, etc. 2.) Hammers and mallets.
Bench front, LHS. 1.) Neodymium magnets make handy tool holders. In this case, holding two stainless steel machinist scales. 2.) Various often-used tools are mounted using all available real estate with hardware that allows secure storage but also easy retrieval. 3.) This storage area is actually the front face of two more slide-out vertical panels (see below).
4.) Rack for parallel-grip pliers.
LHS Vertical sliding drawer/panel deployed. 1.) Another plier rack, this one for my less-frequently used pliers. 2.) Storage rack for saw frames, color-coded and arranged by blade size. 3.) Below decks, more storage for various hdling tools as well as my chasing hammers.
Again, LHS of bench, this is the other slide-out panel. 1.) Needle file storage. 2.) Saw blade bank/dispenser.
1.) Needle file rack. Designed so the points are down to reduce chance of accidental finger injury. Again, files are color coded by cut.
Saw blade bank/dispenser of my own invention. 1.) Blade sizes are indicated on the exterior face to eliminate error when reloading the tubes. 2.) Tubes are color-coded to make blade replacement intuitive. Blade colors correspond to color coding on saw frames. The orange or 3/0 blade tube is shown deployed. Once I've grabbed the blade I need, a flick returns the tube to its upright position where it is held in place by a neodymium magnet. When all blades are gone from a tube, the tube will not return to the upright position until refilled, since the tubes, made of brass, are non-magnetic.
View of the de Rosier Stump. 1.) Bench pin attachment features a PVC mount for vac hose. 2.) GRS BenchMate compatible. 3.) Mounts directly to stump with integrated anchoring system. 4.) Bolts on Stump top are flush-mounted but can be removed to anchor just about anything that is compatible with the bolt pattern.
Another view of the de Rosier Stump. Notice the triangular shape of the stump. This allows me to work closely to the stump with my legs on each side. 1.) A rear view of the bench pin attachment. 2.) Many tools have bolt-down patterns that are incompatible. In that case, I build my own bases, as I did with this pipe vise.
Studio view from the LHS. 1.) An old butcher block re-purposed. Great for hammering. 2.) Fein Turbo Vac serves as my shop dust collector. It's relatively quiet and that makes it tolerable. 3.) Full view of de Rosier Stump. 4.) A real stump, holding a T-stake anvil for forging/forming.