Bench upgrades and free* standing desk

I got out the power tools yesterday! My workbench received an additional shelf, which allows me to stack various boxes and tools underneath the really useful mini Ikea drawer units. I also carved a recess to accept my bench peg, giving me a firm, accessible holding point for delicate work. The pegboard I mounted onto some bed-frame parts I scavenged, raising it to a height where the tools are visible and easily accessible. I’m contemplating the next upgrade, which I think will be creating some rails beneath the pegboard for my pliers, freeing up the magnetic rail for other small items.

The other part of my home-working setup is a standing desk, which I built from scavenged adjustable clothing rails and a picture frame. My laptop happily sits atop the picture frame, and a shelf underneath on swinging arms holds keyboard and other inputs. I can easily change the height of both using the locking mechanisms they came with. I want to make it completely self-standing, but for now it’s braced on the drawer unit underneath – a great place for my printer and packaging supplies.

One thing I’ve decided is lacking in this desk is an easy way to take paper notes, so I’m trialling using my portable easel as a supplement to the standing desk – if it works well, I will likely incorporate such a thing into the next iteration.

I stand on a contoured cushion made from layered yoga mat pieces covered with fleece. This gives a pleasingly squishy surface with enough variation that my feet and legs don’t get too fatigued from standing at the desk. Also it looks like a tropical island so I can pretend to be Godzilla.

All the materials used have been scavenged from various places, so for the cost of a few screws, glue sticks and some electricity I’m really happy to be able to make changes like this to my environment.

More Bench Modifications

I’ve been busy with etching the past few days, and further bedding in my newly mutilated bench – with some extra upgrades!

I’ve added a magnetic knife rack from Ikea to one leg, which I’m extremely happy with – I wasn’t expecting it, but the thing I’m most delighted to store on it is the punches for my disc cutter!  These things are always driving me nuts: rolling around, squashing/cutting things, getting underfoot and always being hard to lay my hands on.  Now they’re visible, ready to hand, but out of the way.  I’ve also started using it to store my hammer, and for keeping things like knives and spikes out of the way.  As my bench evolves I’m almost certain to get more of these.

My next mod was hot-glueing my tweezers stand to the underside of my desk, so that I could easily hover them over my soldering pad. It fell off when I was doing some hammering, but I like the general idea, so I’m thinking of creating a third-hand device with integrated soldering platform. I added an animation of my bench peg for fun – I’m looking to replace it though, with one built into the benchtop.


To thank you for reading this far, here’s some shots of my latest pieces – etched with toner! Now I’m off to do a proper photoshoot.

Tiny epiphanies!

I was looking at exciting jewellery techniques, tools and benches, and came across this tip that blew my tiny mind…

Using a cone-ended rod to center a sheet with a hole in it within the round of a disc cutter, in order to make perfectly aligned washers! So much easier than lining it up by eye! I’ll definitely be making a tool for this for a batch of earrings I’m planning.

See the photo above and read more about disc cutters over at “Kelsi’s Closet Jewelbox”.

Workshop upgrade

I think today’s been well spent, cutting a semicircular divot into my jewellery workbench, adding a shelf and storage, and arranging things to suit.

As I contemplated returning from my Ugli adventures to my workshop, I was daunted by the amount of construction mess on my desk. This made me realise I hadn’t been using my workbench for its intended purpose – making jewellery – but instead had been treating it as a rather unwieldy set of shelves. After some contemplation, and ogling some of the gorgeous benches on Ganoksin’s Bench Exchange, as well as these two fantastic Pinterest boards of bench and workshop inspiration, I decided it was finally time to commit to the bench, and cut out the semi-circle that distingishes a jeweller’s bench from an oddly tall workbench.

Some jigsawing and jiggery-pokery later, I have one semicircle of heavy beech block-wood, and an exciting-looking new benchtop.

I’ve also repurposed my desktidies into tool-and-material tidies under the surface of my workbench, so I can keep supplies and commonly-used tools to hand but off the surface of the bench. I’ve replaced them on my desk with a set of component drawers that I’d underused for storing supplies. Now my desk is much tidier, and hopefully it’ll stay that way as it goes back to being the counterpart for my jewellery bench, not its reluctant and unergonomic substitute.

I have it set up with a soldering station on the lower surface, and I look forward to using it for a while to find out how best to improve it in future, with drawers, shelves, cubbies, tidies and so on, as well as with a chair with a back to replace my stool.

For now though, I have a lot of copper to etch!

A busy day

Today’s been lovely and productive – lots of jewellery coming together for the Ugli outing next week. Along with brooches, fossil necklaces and cufflinks, I made a small batch of simple windmill earrings. Accidentally melting one lead to a nice discovery – the odd one out makes a lovely little brooch!

My third hand’s a tweezer

It might not quite be the first time ever, but today I used a Third Hand for its intended purpose – soldering! In the past I’ve melted or otherwise fragged many of the standard crocodile clips that come with these useful devices. This sort is modular though, and I persuaded it to holda pair of locking tweezers. Now I can hold parts for soldering with my blowtorch, without worrying about the holding device being destroyed in the process! It does look a little silly though.

Speaking of setting yourself up for success, I used the tail of the evening to tidy away the chaos of a week’s making, lined up the photo booth, props and subjects, and otherwise got everything together to shoot the finished products tomorrow morning: earrings, cufflinks, and a lovely delicate necklace. I can’t wait to share!

Works in progress – Fossil assembly

I have the fittings for two pairs of cufflinks gently cleaning up in the embrace of the pickle dragons, and have been putting together some necklaces – one epic, one so sweet and delicate. I think that these individual ammonites look so much better when hung from two points rather than one, what do you think?

A morning’s fossil pieces

I’m going to need to do another photoshoot!  The pickle dragons did their job well, and only one earring fossil snuffed it in the process.

I’m particularly excited about the sliced and polished ammonites that I picked up from the Pit Rivers Museum in Oxford earlier this year.  I’ve used the same setting as my stud earrings, but with a semicircle of wire for attaching cufflink backs.  Now if only I knew what those matching cufflink backs should be!

I have three matching sliced ammonites to offer, and they’d make great christmas gifts.  If you want to snap them up (with custom backs!) before they go on Etsy, let me know!

A shoal of pickle dragons

Made from milk bottle plastic with a hole-punch and scissors, these simple little pickle dragons keep my parts from being muddled while they’re in the cleaning pickle solution overnight.  You can’t use wire as it may contaminate the pickle, and string will get all soggy, so these easy-to-grab plastic creatures seem the best solution.  The labels will help me reunite them with their respective fossils afterwards, too!  I’m looking forward to setting all these ammonites – including a new cufflink design.

I wonder if they’d make good packaging…

Morning in the workshop – packing a piece

Back to work on my new fossil pieces, I’ve realised that around 10/11 in the morning, hunger lures me away from the bench and down two flights to the kitchen, full of lovely distractions.  The solution: make like a Scottish child, and pack my piece (snack)!

I’m working ona lava-bead embellished necklace to matched the survivor from the unfortunate incident on Saturday, various setting styles for a whole bundle of ammonites, and caps for some belemnites.  Lunchbreak’s over, back to the grindstone!