Saturday, January 26, 2013


When I remarked I was going to redesign the bench, I had forgotten how it was assembled after I got it.  An examination of the bench revealed a redesign would be impractical.  So, as a result, I have decided to wait for warmer weather and build a new bench favoring my own style of work.  Below is a stick drawing of the front view of the proposed bench, subject to change.

Here's a run down of what is currently intended:  Upper right are two drawers.  Already, I am making a change.  Yep, I'm a bit on the nutty side.  The larger drawer is for burs, buffs, sanding discs, drills, etc.  It will go on top, the smaller drawer, below that. That drawer holds nothing on a permanent basis.  It is extra spaces to put pieces of a project in progress, and maybe, some tools being used on the project.

Below the drawers, the two long, vertical openings, two pull-out racks, on which will placed pliers, cutters, snips, saws, hammers, and files that I use the most.

The drawers and pull-out racks are supported by drawer slides, heavy duty ones for the racks.  Maybe I should call them panels instead of racks.  The idea comes from examining the photos of John de Rosier's studio and bench. The man is a genius when it comes to organizing tools.  The little box at the bottom is only for support.  

The large horizontal opening to the left of the panels is in a state of flux.  I have not decided how to handle this area.  There will be some kind of catch tray, and a soldering tray.  Light duty butane torch soldering.  The big stuff is in the good old catch-all garage.

What goes on top of the bench is semi-set.  Lamp and flex-shaft stand are a certainty.  I probably will place two sets of drawers I got from Office Depot 3 years ago.  They'll take care  of other lesser used tools.

Sometime in the future, I will sell the bench now being used.

Monday, January 21, 2013


For the past several days I've done nothing but troll around on Ebay and sketch out plan after plan for improvement of the bench.

This cute little ball peen hammer is one of the Ebay finds.  Cute, yes.  Practical, not hardly.  It is more conversation piece than a useful one.  But what the hey, I may find a use for it.  I have, however, found some good stuff in my recent forays into the depths of Ebay.  I may show some of them in future entries.

As to the attempts to design and redesign the bench, everything remains in a state of flux.  I dont want to build something and then find out later on the design was flawed.  It is not as simple as it seems.

One thing is certain.  The movable double shelf over the catch drawer has got to go.  It is an abomination.  Entirely too difficult to access any tools placed there.  So, away with you!

Another problem it that the bench and I are not really friends.  We are not made for each other.  It is not a happy association.  But, we must some how learn to live with one another, and the bench is easier to change than it is for me to change, it being inanimate, while I still retain some animation.

So, how does one begin a redesign process?  (Besides facetiously stating, "Very carefully!")

One way to begin is by analyzing the processes one uses is the making of the type of jewelry one makes.  Or, in other words, asking the question, what is the flow of work from beginning of a project to the end, and the use of what tools when?  How will  tools be placed so that they are easy to find and convenient to hand?  I really don't know how some folks do what they manage to do with tools piled on top of one another in a willy nilly fashion.  But they do, and they do extraordinary work.  I've gotten so that I have a hard time seeing or finding something in plain sight right in front of me.

For storing the tools, I take a group of tools of similar nature, and lay them out on a large piece of paper and measuring with a ruler the dimensions, draw an outline around them, taking into consideration any dividing material between each tool.  Keeping in mind, of course, the space available.  I have a 36 inch wide dimension to work with, and while that seems like a lot of space, it can get used up in a hurry.  I go back and forth trying this way and that in order to gets the most bang for the buck.  That is not the end of the story.  Once I have what I think is going to work, and before building, I'll make a mock-up from foam board and try it out.  That way no good lumber will be wasted.  We'll see how it goes, but in the meantime, don't hold your collective breaths folks.  It's going to take awhile.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mandrel Tools, Rio Grande Catalog, New Books

What's This All About?

I know this is going to set someone's teeth on edge but it does work.

The small ( 4 3/4 inch long), slip joint pliers along with a short (4 1/2 inch), modified screwdriver, shown with a mandrel, are essential tools for me when tightening the mandrel screw which holds various things such as sanding discs, 3M bristle brushes, cut-off wheels, etc.  Not shown, another essential item, a small tray.  (From a candy box.)  I work over this, so when I drop the screw, the tray will catch it.  It is almost certain that I will drop it. You can bet on it.  I lost one once when I didn't use the tray and I've yet to find it.

The tip of the screwdriver blade has been modified so it fits firmly into the screw slot.  The tips of ordinary screwdrivers are notorious for not fitting screw slots correctly.Most screwdrivers are mass produced ending up with blade ends tapered. Slots cut into screw heads are square sided. Only certain screwdrivers, particularly those used by gunsmiths, actually fit the slots.  And they are more expensive.  A few specialty woodworking screwdrivers are made to fit the slots.  Not even the better quality set of jeweler's screwdrivers I bought fit the slot correctly.

The pliers help to grip the slick mandrel shank firmly enough to keep it from turning when I tighten the screw. Amazingly, the plier jaw teeth don't cause any damage to the mandrel shank.

The GIANT Rio Grande Tool catalog has arrived and I'm going through the pages making out my wish list.  Then it will be time for second thoughts.  Do I really need this?  Will I use it once I have it?  The list gets narrowed down pretty quick!

Couple of new books out that some folks might be interested in consideration of adding to their library.  Both are published by Interweave.  If you don't solder and a bit scared of trying it, consider "Simple Soldering" by Kate Ferrant Richbourg.  Includes a DVD.  Using only relatively inexpensive small butane torches, she takes you through a number of basic methods to create soldered jewelry.

The second book, "Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers" by Elizabeth Bone, goes from basic to advanced  techniques. Covers a lot of different techniques.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dimpling Pliers, Again

Explanation:  Leather cord loop end with a brass sleeve secured by placing two dimples into the sleeve.  One millimeter dimpling plier.

One of my so-called resolutions was to take better photos.  This isn't one of them.  But I think you'll get the idea for another use for a dimpling plier.

On another note,  take a look at an amazing video.  and scroll down menu to Bench Tube, click on Watch Videos.  Then click on 3 Dimensional.

And, speaking of videos,  if you would like to watch some basic jewelry making videos, take a look at Nancy L T Hamilton's videos at

She is a kind of funny lady.  I get a kick out of watching.