Ode to a Work Bench

by laurie jane kern on January 23, 2010

Oh, workbench –
Oh, workbench!
My new love and joy

Thats all I have so far and my *new* workbench is still un-assembled, in its box, in the living room (which does not have any furniture but that is another story).

I have been pondering for months about what type of workbench to get. As I wrote in April, I am using my sewing table as a work bench. It has it limitations – It is deep but not long; the table surface gives since it is not thick and heavy; I have a hole, covered with a board, where my sewing machine would go; and more.

Which is why I have been pondering getting a real workbench.

Of course we all lust after that double wide oak workbench from Otto Frei and then there is Valerie Heck who got a special handmade workbench from her grandfather (yes, we are all jealous of you Valerie, and if you go away, when you get home, that bench may be gone!)

We have a small workbench out in the garage that I have been using for my silversmithing – sinking, raising and annealing mostly, but with it being so cold I have not done anything all week out there. My husband even said I could get a basic bench when they are on sale and since I have used a workbench at some studios where I take classes I knew what size I might want but I honestly felt that the classic jewelers workbench I could afford was not big enough – and I mean big as in LONG.

I want a bench where I can have my stake holder at one end and a good vise at the other. In between I need a catch tray under the table top and some drawers. On top I want room for my pickle pot and room for the soldering and more so I am not always setting up and breaking down.

A few weeks ago I was at the Woodworking store in San Diego, I was buying some wooden balls for bouging. They had a great workbench there and it was long – a full 72″ in length and 24″ deep and the top was thick. I was in love!  Unfortunately it was over $500 – even more than I would pay for a basic jewelers workbench. I almost bought it but did not, my quest would continue.

THEN last week I was at Harbor Freight in Escondido and saw this workbench –  It was very similar to the one at the Woodworking store. Yes, I know, it is a knock off from China but it had big dimensions – 60″ long by 20″ deep with 4 drawers (which the other one did not have). This one was just under $200. I went home, signed up for the sale coupons by email [they have a sale almost every week – trust me]. I was waiting for a 15% off any non-sale item.

That coupon appeared in my email in-box yesterday! And where do you think we went today? And this is why I have an unassembled workbench in the living room.

I am now making space in my office/workspace for it.  I hope to do the assembly next weekend – I will post pictures then.


laurie jane kern

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie Heck February 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Congrats on the new bench, I can’t wait to see what you create. Thanks for mentioning me! I haven’t started using the bench yet, my wonderful grandfather is going to help me set up a soldering station with ventilation and then the fun will begin!

Naomi Catalano January 26, 2010 at 10:31 am

I so identify with the long search for a bench. I’ve been making do with a variety of odd tables, etc. Wendy — a question — I’ve been drawing up plans for a very basic work table, but do I need to use hardwood? I know a hard wood would be better, but can I get away with pine, or is that just too soft? What kind of wood did you use on your tables?

Congrats on the new table. Perhaps soon I will be writing an ode to my new workbench. Happy bench/happy, happy bench.

Laurie Jane Kern January 25, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I have to wait for next weekend as on Sunday (yesterday actually) I was already committed to an event and during the week “THE DAY JOB” takes over. But, like right now, I am spending the evenings cleaning and rearranging the office so the workbench will fit and the area is cleared for where it will go.

Thanks everyone!

Jerry Fowler January 25, 2010 at 10:54 am

Your going to wait till next weekend! Your are much more patient than me, I couldn’t wait that long. Congrats on the new bench and have fun with it.

Wendy Edsall-Kerwin January 25, 2010 at 10:35 am

Your workbench is the most important part of your studio (for some) and I’m glad that you’ve found one that fits you! I ended up making my own to save money and to fit my requirements, and then I ended up making two more a year later! That one looks really nice. Happy metalsmithing :^)

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