The New Benches in the Fishbowl

by michaeljohnson on November 29, 2011

I’ve referred to it as the fishbowl, but my glassed in studio is undergoing a transformation, and we have a lot to do before Black Friday.  Ugg, black Friday always sounds like a horror movie to me, and sometimes…

Anyways, this is probably the worst time of the year to do all of this, but there is no time like the present.  When we get an idea, we run with it.  All of the major skeletons and components of this studio were built next door, and all we had to do was move the tools out, move the old bench next door, install and paint the new one, and then move it all back in.


I could have bought a prefab double bench for the same price and cost of time, but a prefab one didn’t conform to what we needed.  With the costs of wood and the amount of time it takes, I wouldn’t suggest people just start making their own benches.  However, if you just don’t want to give the Inc’s your money, go right ahead.


The benefit of making your own is that you can size and adjust everything to exactly what you want.  I like my benchpin at exactly 40″ high, and I wanted my oxycon between the two benches to make it easier to click on and off to conserve power and to keep from driving up times between getting it cleaned and refurb’d.  This set-up also gives me a better display area just in front of the bench, to make it easier to answer customer’s questions.

We've just removed the majority of the tools from the cabinets.


As you can see, working at this counter styled bench has been an ergonomic challenge.

We've removed the counters.  The old one will go into my garage to make a stone cutting area and woodworking studio for visuals for the shop.

We've removed the counters. The old one will go into my garage to make a stone cutting area and woodworking studio for visuals for the shop.

It's almost a dance floor now. We removed the old linoleum and found about a quarter once of silver scrap under there.

Installing the new benches. This design gives us 6 more inches of floor space, which is actually a lot when you need to squeeze by someone setting next to you to get to the sink. The second bench is for my new apprentice, Sage, my oldest daughter.

These are the rungs, or dividers, which will support the weight of the cabinets and will hold the panes of glass.

Added the plywood skin to the benches.

Here, I'm adding the cabinet framework.

Here, I've added the display area that will be just in front of the bench area.

Adding the plywood skin to the cabinets.

It's coming to life!!!

Note: the decorative touches of the turned finials. Just dressing it up a bit.

Here, Sage is prepping for the paint.

Colors!!! I know, I know, these are pretty bright colors, but the display area is designed to have a more neutral color scheme. This is just for impact when you come in the shop. Lora and I had to merge our business colors. We both had purple and green, but I compromised my version of a more purply purple for her more violet, and she compromised her muted green for my green. It will be a bit more earthy the details are added.

It's coming along...

A few coats of polyurethane on the workbench.

The sweeps drawer, before paint.

My youngest on the ladder and Lora in her work clothes. Second coat time!

I wanted the inside of the sweeps drawer to be finished in a gloss white, so that I could more easily find dropped stones and more easily sweep it clean between metals. Note: the tool shelf.

Almost done, but I have to return the tools and stuff, so that we can open in a few hours. I also have a ton of work to turn out.

OK, time to catch up on sleep and get back to cranking out repairs and orders.  I will try to get a few more shots as we complete the area.  I still have to cut all of the glass and install, make the doors to the display case, and install the stained glass panels.


Let me know what you think.  It’s the only way I know if there is anyone out there 🙂



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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Edwards December 2, 2011 at 3:57 am

Hmm, Maybe a little silicone caulk around the cracks! i may just do that under my bench legs!

michaeljohnson November 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Thanks Mike,
Actually, your suggestion has not fallen on deaf ears. I put a quarter round molding over every spot where I’ve lost stones down beneath the riser, but just today I had a stone roll under the leg of the bench. I just wish I had as much luck in playing billiards, LOL.
I hadn’t thought of permanent lighting under the bench itself. Very smart, hmmm.
I will have to think about the floor shield. It is a good idea, but it drives me nuts to roll over the edges of things. But, as you said the alternative is a buggered up floor.
Good points!
Thank you, and I appreciate your peaking in on the blog.

Mike Edwards November 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Nice work on your benches. Pick up a copy of The Jewelers Bench book by Charles Leweton Brain if you’ve not already done so. It has lots of creative storage strategies that can be employed for all the little tools we jewelers keep.As someone who has played”find the dropped melee” I heartily approve of your new linoleum;Don’t forget to seal off around the edges and at the base contact area of the new bench. Add permanent under the bench florescent lights (they can be small) and save a lifetime of flashlight batteries and find that dropped gem even quicker! Find plastic floor shields to protect your new flooring from having metal dust and other debris ground into it. Look for ones without the carpet spikes and apply antis kid rubber under them to keep them from sliding on the linoleum.
Keep posting, I’ll be reading about your progress,

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