Adam Hunter of Cookson Precious Metals discusses the importance of creating the right environment for a jewelers workshop, and the key jewelers tools needed to furnish the start-up bench.
Making jewellery does not require a large space or big pieces of equipment or even furniture. A selection of key workshop pieces combined with basic hand tools provides everything for the first workshop. Cooksons provides a full range of Jewelery tools, – everything from basic hand tools, pre packed tool kits, consumables, larger machinery right through to the professional jewelers bench.
Your first workshop:
Often the beginner or student will start making jewellery on ‘normal’ desk, worktop or even kitchen table! Adapting the table can be easily be achieved by clamping a G clamp bench vice or anvil. The jewelers peg /pin can then be held in place securely giving a simple, yet sturdy place to work.
The peg is perhaps the most vital part of any setup allowing the jeweler to work quickly and efficiently. This wedge or triangle of wood supports the piece, holding it in a notch or v shape insert. This holds the piece rigid, allowing the jeweler to saw, cut, & file.
If adapting an existing desk the desk should be elevated, so that the working area is at mid chest level when the jeweler is sat upright, thus allow maximum control of your tools and metals.
Let there be light, & ventilation:
Although normal desks can be adapted, two factors must be in place when setting up your ‘bench’ – light and ventilation. The work area needs to well ventilated to ensure a safe working environment combined with good bright and direct lighting. Natural light can be complemented by adjustable lamps ensuring that no shadow falls over your piece from the jeweler or the equipment.
The professional jewelers bench:
The traditional jewelers bench is a purposed designed and provides the perfect working area for any project. Often mistakenly seen as expensive luxury, a good bench will last you a lifetime and most importantly will help in improving your technique. Benches are higher than a normal desk (mid chest level if the jeweler is sitting uptight) ensuring that the jeweler does not stoop to work. Most benches have the semi circle cut out ensuring that you can sit close to the to the work, and with the aid of a bench skin collects scrap and protect the jeweler from hot or sharp objects.
Organizing jewellery tools:
Keeping a workshop tidy, and the tools organized will help the jeweler when working, creating a efficient working environment. Both tools & materials should ideally be kept close to the bench, with the aim of trying to keep all materials within arms reach. Practically many of the basic jewelers tools will be actually left on the bench – Pliers, files, cutters, tweezers are used so often that they can be left on the work top for immediate access.
As a large part of jewellery making involves heat often a section of the bench will be dedicated to the equipment needed for soldering. Often the soldering area will be based around the placement of a torch, with the soldering block placed alongside a borax cone and dish.
For other materials such as jewellery findings, settings, and metal, storage containers should be used. These ideally have sliding draws to allow you to split different carats, sizes or types of findings.
Once the workshop is established all that remains to be added is the essential basic selection of popular jewellery tools such as files, saw & saw blades, emery & polishing sticks, pliers, cutters, verniers along with forming tools and heating / soldering equipment.