Rebuilding the Fishbowl

by michaeljohnson on November 14, 2011

For those who have visited the studio, or at least have caught the occasional glimpse through my posts, you may have noticed that my studio area is a glassed in booth in the corner of the shop, of which I refer to as the “fishbowl” occasionally.  Before I occupied the booth, it was designed as a glass blowing/lampwork area, and I’ve just been modifying it to suit my needs as a jeweler’s bench area for a little over five years.  It is a set of counters and various types of storage things, which would continue to suit my needs alone.  But, when I give tasks to my daughters, they have to set in the class area with a portable bench pin clamped to a table, which makes neck cramps and bad form while attempting most of the things I need for them to do.  So, I am redesigning the 6.5’ x 9’ area into a double bench studio.


Don’t pay any attention to the random math. The sketchbook ends up being my scrap paper as I cipher.
The actual work area. Where’s the coffee mug holder?

Since the shop is only closed on Mondays, I will only have from Sunday at close to Monday evening to get the whole transformation done without disrupting business.  Therefore, the whole area will have to be completed in modules at my house and then set up and installed to make the transformation efficient.  This requires planning, attention to measurements, and having each section almost completed and ready.

Here the framework for the cabinet is being assembled.

I have been exploring options that I would want in a fully customized bench, viewing theGanoksin Bench Exchange Project and exploring various pre-made benches.  I know that I hate rummaging through drawers, I like having the option of using two bench pins for large objects, I don’t want to get up to solder, and I want a vacuum system built into the bench.  It also has to be glassed in with plenty of storage.

The cabinet frame waiting on a coat of paint.

The overhanging cabinet has to be installed as a skeleton, with the panels painted and ready to tack in and final coat.  It would just be too heavy to maneuver and it has to be set with screws which would hard to line-up otherwise.  But, the bottom of the cabinet has to have the inset lights installed and ready to just lay in.  Also, the cabinet will not only hang over the bench, but will also hang over the new display cabinet and the lights will illuminate the cabinet.

My youngest helping out. Her older sister will be using the bench more, but one day… Note, barefeet run in the family :o)

I am by no means a master woodworker, but I did have a box making studio for a while right out of college, where I made conceptual tea boxes from exotic hardwoods that I found that some local discarded pallets from South America.  That’s a whole separate story. I have also had experience as a picture framer, so the task of building the glass panels seemed to make sense.  But, I had to take into consideration the weight that would be setting on the glass, so I want to keep the panels narrow to let the weight distribute on the wooden frame.  Also, I have to custom cut 16 narrow strips of shatter resistant glass, of which I have had no experience with.

details are important. Especially rounding off corners that will be around your legs while you work.

My other concerns are; having cabinets to the ceiling will I be able to hear questions from patrons through the glass? Will the vacuum motor have enough pull to work two vents at once?  And, where will I keep my coffee cup?  Oh well, stay tuned as we hopefully get this ready to be installed just after Thanksgiving.

Stay tuned…



Latest posts by michaeljohnson (see all)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hewy November 14, 2011 at 6:07 am

Very Nice!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

WordPress Admin