Designing Your Benches from Scratch?

by Blanche Nonken.
(Fallon, NV)

Designing Your Benches from Scratch?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

In a week or two, I will be taking delivery on a pre-fab 10’x20′ cabin with loft to build into my micro-house.

The loft means I don’t have to waste valuable bench-space on a bed, but other than an insulated roof, this is basically full DIY for me.

I’m looking forward to the experience and I have the safety equipment from my travel trailer, but other than that – the exhaust system, fire extinguisher and plumbing (smoke detector too! Just thought of that) I’m designing my bench layout from scratch.

Experienced jewelers and metal-crafters:

What would you do if you had the chance to design your workspace?

Which details are critical to put in place?

I’ve never taken my own space without being limited by what’s already there, so I’d like to hear your input.

Thank you!

Blanche Nonken
Makkabet

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  • Hi Blanche, how exciting! One thing I prefer – I like having “stations” for specific activities in my studio. For example, a photography area, a jewelry-making area, an area for using messy things (patinas, inks, etc.), and so on. If you don’t have enough space for all that stuff to be out at once, you can put all the supplies for each “station” in its own rubbermaid bin. Then when you’re ready for that activity, you just pull out the bin that has everything you need.

    For storage I also use a lot of those small plastic drawer units that you can stack on top of each other (you can see an example in my post, Storing Jewelry Supplies and Tools.)

    Also, if you haven’t already done so, look on Pinterest to see some great innovations to benches and ways to store supplies. Many of them can be probably adapted to your use.

    And I’m looking forward to hearing other good ideas from our JMJ friends!

  • Dianne says:

    Like Rena, I have my studio set up by stations. I don’t think any of us really ever have enough room so we make the best use we can of the space available.
    I have 3 workbenches in an “L” shape where one is against the wall and the other 2 extend from those down nearly the length of the room. My first bench (against the wall) contains my flex shaft and all my hand tools…pliers, hammers, cutting jigs, saws and I have my bench pin mounted to that one. Next is my soldering station which is on a bench I purchased from Home Depot (6″ length and has a shelf, super sturdy). I mounted a 6-plug power strip to the back of it for my pickle pot, lights and whatever else I might need). After speaking with the fire chief, I laid cement board on top of that table as it is fireproof. My soldering pads and charcoal blocks are on top of that. My metals and other soldering equipment as well as safety equipment (safety glasses, masks, respirator) are on the shelf below. The next table has my rolling mill, drill press and room for my enamel work. Against the wall and opposite the long part of the L are shelves and stackable plastic bins containing my enamel supplies, patina supplies, and other stuff…not sure what really! On the other wall I’ve hung bulletin boards so I can hang all my gemstone beads & pearls (in little ziplocs) so that I can see them easily and get easy access without digging through drawers. I do have a curtain in front of them so they don’t fade. Below them I have my desk, printer and office supplies.
    The walls and floor are cement, which is not my preference but it’s the basement and the only option for my studio. I did not want to be on carpet because if I were to drop a piece hot metal I would at least ruin the carpet and may even start a fire…so that left the basement. I do hope one day to have an above ground studio and get out of the dungeon but the setup would be the same.
    I am curious as to what others have to say.
    Make sure you show us after you’re all set up…I can’t wait to see!

  • Blanche Nonken says:

    Dianne, cement board is a great idea! I honestly wouldn’t have thought of that – currently I have sheet metal (left over from mouseproofing our pantry) tack-nailed down (to my late mother’s old kneading board) and I use a metal mesh grate on legs, or old firebrick atop that. The trailer I live in on my “adopted brother”s farm is nice, but long in the tooth – and I’m looking forward to the “move.” I pulled out the stove there and that’s my soldering/annealing station, and I’ll be moving the very strong exhaust hood to the new cabin for whatever I make my new “fire” station. I came into a bit of cash and splurged on a dapping block and a metal rolling mill, and my “brother” will be giving me his tiny metal lathe, so I’m going to need all the bench space I can!

    The company says my cabin is at the paint/varnish stage, so it won’t be long now!

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