Many jewellery artists work at the kitchen table, coffee table or even kitchen counter. Moving your work for dinner or homework becomes commonplace and frustrating. Fortunately, you can have a dedicated place to work if you build a workbench of your own.
Be creative about finding a place to put your bench. Consider a closet, porch or corner of the garage. Think about where you could put your bench if it was smaller or an unusual shape. Decide if it must be indoors or if it can be outside; do you need water, ventilation or electricity? Finding a place for your bench can be the hardest part of the process, so let your creative mind go and brainstorm.
Assess what you have in the way of materials and tools. Decide which ones are essential for working at your bench and which are used in another spot. Store your materials elsewhere to free room for tools. Consider future equipment you may acquire and how much space it will take. Look at the needs for each item, such as producing heat, space to clamp to clamp onto the bench, electricity needs or how it must be stored.
Use what you already have to make a base for your bench, such as an old dresser or cabinet. Find free furniture on websites where used goods are traded. Look for drawers or cubbies that fit your equipment. Look at the walls and ceiling where your bench will be. Consider hanging shelves, cabinets or systems of small drawers above your bench. Hang odd-sized pieces above your head using hooks. Look for free lighting, too.
Configure your area with the free furniture. Make sure there is room for doors and drawers to open. Remember tools that clamp onto the bench will hang down and need an open space so they don't block a door or drawer from opening. Measure the size of bench top your furniture will support. Design extra hangover room and places where holes can be drilled to accept tools that may hang through the bench top or even through the top of your free dresser.
Measure your bench area for all the places that masonite pegboard can be mounted on the wall. Remember that your three-quarter inch plywood bench top will take some space and you will want the pegboard to touch the bench so small items can not fall behind it. Buy plywood; pegboard; screws; pegboard mounting sets; and pegboard tool hooks, cups, clips, etc. at a hardware store or builders' supply. In most cases, they will cut your plywood and pegboard to size.
Use a jigsaw or hand saw to make any remaining cuts in your plywood or pegboard. Place your plywood bench top on top of your furniture and screw it into place. Screw the backs of your dressers to the wall if you will be pulling against them. Attach your pegboard to the walls using pegboard mounting sets. Drill any holes that you need into the top of the bench after checking that the tools will fit.
Add appropriate safety measures to your bench. Get a piece of tile or patio brick to put your soldering block on and another to protect the area behind your soldering flame. Be sure any kilns and chemicals are well vented, hotplates are in a safe spot, and tanks of acetylene or other fuel are secured. Store reactive chemicals in separate areas. Get a fire extinguisher and install a smoke alarm.
Don't underestimate the size of the drawers you will need. Drawers made for office supplies are more convenient than drawers made for nuts and bolts. A smaller container can always go inside a drawer that is too large. Look at the pre-made work benches under references to get ideas for your own bench.
Your household insurance policy may not cover damage caused by a torch or kiln. Check your policy and talk to your insurance agent.
Tips and warnings
- Don't underestimate the size of the drawers you will need. Drawers made for office supplies are more convenient than drawers made for nuts and bolts. A smaller container can always go inside a drawer that is too large.
- Look at the pre-made work benches under references to get ideas for your own bench.
- Your household insurance policy may not cover damage caused by a torch or kiln. Check your policy and talk to your insurance agent.