Building a jewelers bench, need some advice

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Forum topic by VTdscglfr posted 07-20-2013 11:47 AM 5513 views 2 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View VTdscglfr's profile


23 posts in 1904 days

07-20-2013 11:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: ash jewelers bench workbench new woodworker advice

So I am building my fiance a jewelers bench – shameless plug of course. I need some help in the design.

I’m building the top to be 19 inches deep and 39 – 48 inches (not sure yet) and about 39 inches high depending on her height( I want her to be comfortable and I’m gonna build her a chair as well eventually).

She wants drawers down the right side which will hold her material(she mostly works in copper , nickel, brass, and silver

My questions are joinery, Mortise and tenon right?

Should I build the top first, then kind go off the exact size of the top to finish the design?

How thick should i make the legs? Tapered leg or no taper? How far from the edge of the top should I make apron?

I am trying to wing this a bit(and other than my shaker hall table class I have never built a peice of furniture), with no plans but I am certainly looking for some good advice on design…It will be made out of ash for stability and cost and its a good looking wood.

Thank you all in advance

This is a design I’m looking at looks classy to me

6 replies so far

View RobynHoodridge's profile


127 posts in 2358 days

#1 posted 07-20-2013 06:02 PM

“classy”? Are we going for classy or are we going for functional? Most work stations have functional win out.
In which case, see that arced drawer front? That’s usually a cut out in the top surface. There so that you cocoon yourself with lots of immediate table space, and things arranged for 1st order use. But ALSO because that jutty-out thing (the bench pin) can be set back into the table’s general space and not force you back and away from the table and all those 1st order items when you’re using it. So seriously consider making the whole table have that arced recess. Especially if she uses the bench pin a lot. Which brings me to the point that this is an awesome chance for the end user to have input into the design. Tweaked or custom made for their working style. So don’t ask us, ask her.
And now that i’m thinking about tabletops and moving arced pieces like the drawer in that pic you included, i’m wondering about something i’ve never seen done before. Why not make that arced section of the tabletop (left phi’th in your pic) able to slide out? Then the user can choose the cocooning or not; and you wouldn’t have to build the lower parts of the table with arced recesses. But you’d obviouly need some way to lock the sliding top in place to be sturdy for use. Just a thought.
Another thought: If she uses a suspended flex-shaft tool, maybe build things into the bench that can help with that? Custom hanger(s)? Electic cord pockets, recesses, etc.?

-- Never is longer than forever.

View Gary's profile


9333 posts in 3462 days

#2 posted 07-20-2013 07:22 PM

Just my opinion #1 M/T joints #2 Doesn’t really matter. You will be measuring to match which ever way you do it. Do what’s comfortable to you unless the top MUST be the size you listed. You should really be able to match/measure it either way #3 I would use 2” legs with no taper.
You have me a little confused on the apron. Maybe someone else can catch that one.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3614 days

#3 posted 07-20-2013 07:28 PM

Looks great would you be also advised to try with a small lightweight project like this to try dowels instead of mortice and tenons I find them just as strong on projects like this and quicker and easier to use still have fun with all your projects. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View VTdscglfr's profile


23 posts in 1904 days

#4 posted 07-20-2013 08:54 PM

Robyn – When I meant classy I as going for aesthetically pleasing, of course I want it to be functional as well as look good. I realize its going into our basement(out of the everyday viewing eyes) but since I’m so excited about this woodworking stuff, I really want to show off the look at what I did factor as well. I am building only a single drawer for catching her materials(her input), She said she doesn’t need the second drawer underneath the arched drawer.(Who wants to put money she decides in the future it would be nice to have that extra shelf.) I mostly sent the question to the woodworkers and not her in question of the standard woodworking design questions like joints and size. The other stuff was and is up to the lady of course, she is the boss right?

She does use a hydro flux welder and I am going to add a hole in the back of the top of the table so we can snake it through.then I will build a shelf for it to sit on then I will add a switch so she could turn it on and off from a convenient location. and I was of course going to add in a flex shaft stand and the other extras. But I want it to not get to cluttered with stuff so I will eventually build her organization that is independent from the workbench.

The dowels seem like a more convenient option especially on such an intimidating build for a new woodworker. It will depend on how I’m feeling if im cruising along feeling good I may just attempt to tackle the M/T(also depends on how much wood I have left over for the build :)) The top size will be definitely open to however I end up at the final size.

Another question I came up with is how would I go about doing the panels for the sides of the drawers I mean where the drawer slides would go I don’t quite understand from a design standpoint how I would build that. The drawers I will ask about later when its time to build them. The green part is what I meant by apron(terminology is obviously of). Is this like a carcass of some form or is this a different technique

Again thank you for the help and sorry for anything that doesn’t make sense. I’ll try and clarify if it doesn’t. I’m not a very eloquent typer.

View RobynHoodridge's profile


127 posts in 2358 days

#5 posted 07-20-2013 11:28 PM

Certainly, get the wow, “see what i made you” factor. Which will come with care and craftmanship in the making process no matter what blueprint gets made. I just wanted to make sure you were also thinking of the fundamental layout of what you’re about to make so that when you’ve layered the love and attention to detail onto it in the build it has everything. But i see you are thinking carefully about these things, and planning with your your lady. Great.

I say go with dowels. It’s more important to build ones confidence in the first projects by getting them done, so that you’re still eager to do the next. And dowel joints can be very strong. Then even IF it comes apart in 10 years time you’ll have built up your skills by then beause you did move forward, and you can say “Daimn, i can build you an even better one now.”
So in my opinion it’s more about designing the bigger picture than what’s technically the best joint type etc.
Good luck.

-- Never is longer than forever.

View psh's profile


79 posts in 3024 days

#6 posted 07-21-2013 04:04 PM

I won’t give advise on your question, but as far as a chair goes, it should be easily height adjustable. Filing and sawing require different working heights, much like woodworking (although the scale is different!). Of course, you can get used to anything, but think about the whole workbench/moxon vise popularity. FWIW, My wife and I make jewelry for a living.
Good luck on the bench and fiance’s efforts.

-- Peter, Central VA

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