Work Benches

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by Jay851225, Dec 4, 2017.

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  1. Jay851225

    Jay851225 Registered User
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    After many years of debate and procrastination, I've finally decided that I need a bench. But here is my dilema, should I go old or new? The new benches look nice but are they well made? I was looking at the Grobet Watchmakers Bench but I can't tell wood or particle board. And is the wood decent and not like the typical Chinese wood products chocked full of filler and bad grain?

    If I go old, does anyone know where to get one that is in good shape and where the shipping won't kill me? I'm in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. There was a guy at the National here in June that had benches and he was in this area, but I cannot find his contact information.

    Any help/opinions would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    I got a 1950s bench with a Formica top. Word of caution: Formica shrinks, the wood does not. Or at least my instance of Formica had shrunk. The benchtop is a little bowl shaped. I've thought about getting a new top for it but I kind of like it. And any tools that need to be level I always adjust before use in any case.

    The bench is simple in that the separate components (drawer, cabinet and legs) are only connected to the top by screws.

    If you plan to use the bench for hammer work or for running small machines such as a large on it, go for sturdy. If not, you can get away with a lot flimsier constructions. Get a benchtop workmat for you clean work. I got a silicone rubber, semi transparent one from eBay for a couple of dollars. Works great!
     
  3. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    My wife bought mine through Cas Ker 10 years ago and had it drop shipped to our house in Westchester, NY when we lived there. It is solid maple, has made 2 moves with no damage, it is very sturdy, has 7 side drawers, 2 long front lower drawers and two smaller top drawers along with two arm supports. It was expensive, I believe close to $800 with shipping but has been well worth it, lots of storage for watches, parts and tools.
     
  4. shutterbug

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    I made mine. 4x4's for the legs, 2x4's for the top frame, a finished piece of 1/2" plywood for the top. Made it higher on one end in case I want to stand when working. It's probably about 8 foot long including the higher part. I also made a small test stand on the end of the high part.
     
  5. rstl99

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    Sounds like a great bench! Good idea to have one end of it at standing working height.
    If I ever set myself up in a bigger space, I'll likely do as you did, and make my own bench spaces. For now, what I have does the trick (an old watchmaker bench with drawers, and two work tables). It's a luxury for me to now have 3 work areas, whereas before I was trying to cram it all in one! Takes time to figure out what one needs insofar as a workspace goes, and as one goes deeper into horology as a hobby/business, acquiring more tools, machines, equipment, the need evolve and change.
     
  6. ddhix

    ddhix Registered User
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    I have, and use, the Grobet Watchmaker's Bench you're talking about! I'm assuming you're looking on amazon.

    First of all, there is one bad review on Amazon, and it struck me that the guy struggled so much getting his bench together, because mine went together in about an hour. The fit is very tight. I mean it can be a bit of a pain in the butt to get it lined up and get the bolts/screws where they're supposed to be, but I actually took that as an initially very good sign, because that just meant it was going to be rigid; which it is. The wood is pine. It's not the best wood, but it looks nice, and feels nice. When I set it in it's permanent location, I put a level on the top, and it definitely wasn't level. This was an easy fix. First, I shimmed at the ground surface to correct any initial leveling. Second, the very top platform lays on top of everything else, and can be loosened, shimmed, and re-tightened to get the level you need.

    When I got mine in the mail, some of the drawers were broken during the shipping process. I e-mailed the company on amazon that I got it from, and they had new drawers in the mail the following day. I believe it came from Florida.

    The bench top is absolutely what I need for clock and watch repair. I was using a giant Harbor Freight bench before, and I definitely consider this an upgrade. As far as height, it's exactly where it's supposed to be. It triples as a Clockmaker's Bench, Watchmaker's Bench, and Jeweler's Bench, for me. It initially took some slight getting used to, the height, but I'm all about it now. I love being able to lower my office chair and get eye-level while moving pivots into their respective bushings.

    If you buy it, I hope you get the same enjoyment out of it as I do, because for the cost, I'm insanely impressed.
     
  7. ddhix

    ddhix Registered User
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  8. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Nice set up, I recently down sized to a small 1600 sq ft 2 bedroom, 2 bath house from a two story 2800 sq ft with detached garage and room is at a premium so I have one corner of the 2nd bedroom along with some shelves and the garage where the watch cleaning machine resides and the lathe also. If something happens to the wife, the lathe moves indoors. No microscope as yet, just a few loupes and magnavisor.
     
  9. Rockin Ronnie

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    Any chance of seeing more photos of benches. I would not call mine a bench just yet but I am looking for ideas.

    Ron
     
  10. James Foster

    James Foster Registered User
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    #10 James Foster, Dec 19, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
    Ron

    I made my work area to suite my needs and maybe it will give you some ideas. I built a long bench approximately 9' that wraps around a corner. I wanted to be able to roll a task chair along the entire length without having legs in the way. Allowing me to move from station to station seamlessly.

    I made it the appropriate height to be able to look through a stereo microscope at something mounted in a jeweler's lathe as well as be able to also use a loop if I chose within the height adjustment of the same task chair.

    I inherited a jeweler's bench from my father and I purchased a drawer chest from a dear friend before he past. Recently I was inspired by Jerry Kieffer's post showing his clear bench iterating he started and ended each project that way. I put white formica on my jeweler's bench and I too have adopted that convention and find it much easier to work. The rest shows my cleaning station and test stand system.

    Good Luck,

    Jim

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  11. Rockin Ronnie

    Rockin Ronnie Registered User
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    Looks great Jim.
     
  12. John MacArthur

    John MacArthur Registered User
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    I'm known for having a cluttered shop.
    Johnny

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  13. tom427cid

    tom427cid Registered User
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  14. John MacArthur

    John MacArthur Registered User
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    Yup! It surely is my happy place.
    Johnny
     
  15. tom427cid

    tom427cid Registered User
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    I didn't realize just how cluttered my shop really is. If cluttered is a function of happy-well,this place is over the edge! Normally it's not this bad,maybe worse!
    tom

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  16. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User

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    Looks like a well appointed shop, Tom.
    Mine is equally messy. I'm making new storage drawer cabinets for pipe fittings, nails, screws,small engine parts, generator parts, heating parts, air conditioning parts,plumbing parts. After 17 years in the heating business, and repairing many other things, the clutter has added up. Habitat for Humanity loves seeing my van pull in. I've been rounding up stuff that's been sitting around forever & donating it. It's amazing! I can sit on something that I haven't used for 5-8 years, donate it, then find myself at the supply house buying another 2 months later. I don't have the space to keep everything. It gets to the point where it interferes with having the space to conduct repairs.
     
  17. tom427cid

    tom427cid Registered User
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    Boy, there must be an echo in here! truth be known I would love to have a single work space with an adjacent storage/parts area. But,this is not a perfect world and things are scattered about. After almost 15 years here I have run out of space. I used to be in parts and that has helped at least for some of the organization of items into groups. If you notice most of my benches are "home made" that's so they fit available space. The one with the steeple clock started as a salvage project from another shop. The drawers are made from cigar boxes,the top is from a school desk,and the top section(it's a tambour) is pieces left by the previous owner after a kitchen redo.
    tom
     
  18. watchwldr940

    watchwldr940 Registered User
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    IMG_2594.JPG IMG_2595.JPG IMG_2596.JPG IMG_2597.JPG If you search this forum for a thread I started called Christmas Came Early you'll see some pics of my bench I had custom made. I've been using it daily for over a year and still look forward to working at it each day.
    I used a pretty standard watchmaker's bench for over 10 years before I had this one made and it worked well. I will give a couple of hints-- Mine had a floor, which I thought was a neat feature, and one I hoped would add rigidity to the setup== maybe it did and maybe it didn't. But having a floor did keep me from being able to move my chair close enough to the bench, so I was always working on the very edge of the bench. For these and other reasons, I am now against having a bench with a floor.
    Finally, if you can be patient and attend a watchmaker's estate auction, you'll be able to pick up a nice bench cheap for the simple reason that most people attending won't have a truck to transport it, and absentee bidders won't want to ship it. I've picked up a half dozen over the years for as little as $40 just because I seemed to be the only one there with a truck! Again, patience and a willingness to travel a bit (and of course a vehicle that can haul it) will often pay dividends.
    And finally, some folks are using Lista or similar type drawer cabinets for the ends and simple plywood and Formica tops which makes for a nice clean setup that can also be broken down and moved if necessary. As can be seen on my bench, I like Formica-- cleans up well and a bright surface to find those small parts! Good luck and show us what you come up with! George
     
  19. tom427cid

    tom427cid Registered User
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    George,
    That is a very nice bench,well laid out and suited to your work habits.
    Color me envious.
    tom
     
  20. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    remember, neatness is the sign of a sick mind, Edison used to sleep in his roll top desk. So long as you know where everything is, no worries.
     
  21. watchwldr940

    watchwldr940 Registered User
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    Nov 26, 2008
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    How true!
    But I have come to realize that for me, a neat bench is much easier to deal with. I wipe down the bench, light, and surrounding areas at the beginning and end of each day and simply can't do that with a cluttered bench.
    As an aside, one of the meanest tricks I ever played on anyone was about half way through watch school when I planted an extra screw on a guys bench in his pile of screws. The ruckus he raised while trying to figure out where that screw went! But he kept a messy bench and needed a lesson.
    The rest of my shop is much more cluttered pending the finishing of the remainder of my space, so at least I am keeping this little oasis of neatness to work on. I focus mainly on watch repair so having a shop set up like mine is lets me defer when asked to repair clocks. I have several "clock guys" and we send each other the appropriate work. But I'm getting off topic now...George
     
  22. NTimken

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    #22 NTimken, Jan 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
    I don't have money for expensive benches. And I am a big person, and need space. I was setting up a small 8x10 shop area anyway, so I decided to build wrap around benches, and slide drawers on wheels under them.

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg

    The height of the tables is 39 inches, the depth is 24 inches. They are screwed to ledger boards on the wall for stability. A simple square frame is all that you need. The top is made from a sheet of 3/4 inch maple plywood and is rock solid, and attached with angle brackets. I intend to add strips around the edges to keep things from rolling off. There are legs every 28-30 inches or so turned on edge to give you bays with lots of room underneath. Amazon sells a set of all-wood small drawers on wheels for about $50. The bays hold two of these.
     
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  23. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    A lot of us have an apron we wear with snaps or hooks that attach just under the front to help catch little parts that pop out of our hands or tools
     
  24. NTimken

    NTimken Registered User
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    Good for some, not for me. If I were hooked up like that, I'd forget, and yank the whole table off the wall.
    Best thing for me is a 3/4 inch x 1/4 inch flat molding glued and tacked to the edge with brads, that will keep small parts from rolling off the edge onto the floor. It also finishes the edge of the plywood without a lot of sanding. The floor is also interlocking PVC tiles, gray and black checkerboard to help see things that fall. The table was also carefully leveled on 2 planes, so that things won't roll. I initially tried the cantilever design that is depicted earlier in this thread, but found it more difficult to level the top with individual supports than one square frame, which is easier to level. The frame will be painted, because the 2x4's used are rough, and the top of the maple plywood will be stained then polyurethaned. Provides a large work area.
     
  25. David S

    David S Registered User
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    also in your construction it is nice to have that top overhang so that you can more easily clamp things near the edge.

    David
     
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  26. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    I also have a V cut into an overhang at the end of one L sides so that the standard three legged movement stand can hold a movement with a long pendulum extending down past the surface of the bench.
     
  27. topspy

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    Still love my new bench. It was a bit over the top, built by a local cabinet maker, but serves me well.....

    IMG_0116.JPG
     
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  28. NTimken

    NTimken Registered User
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    Build the frame to 21" deep, so you can rip a 4x8 sheet of birch or maple plywood in half, and have a 3" overhang.
    I went with a 24" depth, which required two sheets in order to have an overhang. 21" would have been just about as good, and saved me money.
    I went to a Home Depot with a panel saw, so they cut it for me. Comes out much straighter that way.
     
  29. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User

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    Great looking Bench!
    Nothing over the top about a quality piece of Bench Made Furniture.
     
  30. Ticktinker

    Ticktinker Registered User
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    My bench is an amalgamation of a computer desk, a riser for a work surface.
    An added on drawer, and since the photo I have a lamp sitting on the corner of the riser.
    I found a few white metal trays about 3/4 inch deep for my tools, and project parts,etc.
    I also have some bed trays with white bottoms in them for grouping a style of movements together.
    Everything has a white surface. I need an apron as mentioned above...

    HPIM0641.JPG
     
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  31. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User

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    Looks like your well on your way
     
  32. NTimken

    NTimken Registered User
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    Semi finished work area.

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  33. Ticktinker

    Ticktinker Registered User
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    To update on my post from February,,,
    I am ready to place a wider top on my riser, and add a support for my lamp on the rear of the riser.
    I may remove the existing 12 x 18 top from the riser, add the new wider and deeper top, and attach it all to another piece of White masonite on the bottom. I will provide narrow legs on the middle of each end to prevent teetering, and allow leaving the Blue Irwin Vise on the right just where it is.
     
  34. Dave Coatsworth

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    For those not inclined to build your own, I recently bought a MasterCraft bench. I'm very happy with the build quality. Width is 48 inches. (Shop assistant not included.)

    WorkBench.jpg
     
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  35. Ticktinker

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    You guys just forced me to update. Wider top with support area for the light.

    IMG_0813.JPG
     
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  36. TTolleMM

    TTolleMM Registered User

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    Einstein was correct!
    I bought my L shaped office desk from a local hospital for $40 and built my own riser to fit my frame.
    The funky colored room is 6' 6" x 9' 6" (appx 1.9m x 2.9m for our friends across the pond) and I'm still deciding where to put my ultrasonic cleaner.
    I've only been repairing pocket watches less than a year (I think) so its great to see other benches and layouts for inspiration!
    Mick EA7E2D2F-2951-4FBF-AD25-9ACB2130F9F5.jpeg
     
  37. TTolleMM

    TTolleMM Registered User

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    3E658F71-2865-40F4-9E82-312401B30D48.jpeg
    Update.
    Took an old (cir.1911) upright piano and turned it into a workbench.
    Used as many pieces of original wood, fasteners, etc and added parts from countertops, window frames, old dressers...
    Waste not want not.
    It's not finished yet, I will be adding more vertical drawers in the support leg areas to the left and right of the chair.
    It's enjoyable figuring where everything works best and modifying that area for functionality.
    Thanks everyone for posting pics of their desks, lots of inspiration!
     
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  38. Rockin Ronnie

    Rockin Ronnie Registered User
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    Although some would say it is a shame to break up an old piano but sadly they are not worth much. We have a Willis upright and would have to give it away to get rid of it. Having said that, I like what you have done.
    Ron
     
  39. woodlawndon

    woodlawndon Registered User
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    I picked up a vintage roll-top desk and wooden chair for my workspace. It's tight but works well, lots of drawers to store stuff. The best part is if it gets too messy I can roll the top down and keep everything out of sight.
    Don

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  40. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    A feature that is often underestimated. Sometimes I just don't want to look at a particularly frustrating restoration or my thus far failed attempts at one...
     
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  41. RyanM

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    #41 RyanM, Jun 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
    Built mine. I have a video of it set up with tools, but not sure if I can embed from Instagram. I'm also not sure if I'm allowed to share my Instagram info or not... Most of my tools hang from the pegboard, which also has shelves. I'm still planning on building drawers, but just haven't got to it yet. It is a little over 6' wide and the surface is some old butcher's block that I have covered in a friction held shelf liner that is white. I haven't lost any screws yet.

    IMG_20190525_150347_466.jpg IMG_20190525_150347_467.jpg 20190525_145647.jpg

    Edit: here's the link to my video on Instagram, I'll remove it if needed. Also, I keep buying more tools, so it is getting crowded.
     
  42. Rick Hufnagel

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    You all have given me some great ideas!
    I currently have a really great old table i found in a closed school, a 10 drawer oak card catalog from another closed school, a giant cedar chest and a wire rack shelf. Just changed up my lighting and got a 4' led and hung it above. Built some shelves.

    It works for now, till the kids roll out and I can transform one of their rooms into my ultimate shop space.

    James's wall unit in post #10.... That is something I need in my life one day!!!! Nice!
     
  43. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Ah, there is the good part, when the kids leave, the extra bedroom becomes a "studio" and "watch repair shop". Two houses ago, mine was out on the sunporch, then the next house it was in an office at the front of the house, now I live in a two bedroom "retirement" (ha, ha) house where the 2nd bedroom is my wife's art studio and my watch repair area and office. She bought me my watch bench about 13 years ago from Casker and had it delivered to the house.
     
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