Planning The Jewelry Studio Layout

So you have managed to negotiate a space somewhere in the house where you can set up your jewelry studio workspace. Over and above the general requirements described in The Studio post, you now need to consider how exactly you can get the most out of the space you have available and how you can create a setup that works well for the type of work you are planning on doing.

Basic Things to consider

Some things to consider are: access to power plugs, location and orientation of the main piece of furniture (being your jewelers bench), and location of the dirty parts of the process. You also need to consider how to set up the area so any open flames have the smallest chance of setting anything alight.

So let’s get into it..

Designing your space

When I started thinking about how I wanted to lay out my work space. I spent a fair amount of time researching how others had done it before me.  I picked up different ideas for storage and tool arrangement from pictures of other jewelers’ workspaces. I made note of the different groups of activities involved in the jewelry-making process and based on that I decided how I wanted to arrange the space I had available.

So the different types of activities I thought of were:

  • Bench activities, i.e. sawing, hammering, setting, etc., that all require the bench pin or the Benchmate
  • Soldering, for which I would need some sort of fireproof bench/wall protection
  • Pickling and water cooling, i.e. stuff that can spill
  • Polishing, i.e. activities that potentially make a lot of dust
  • Heavy hammering and forming

It’s worth noting that depending on which area of jewelry making you start with that the activities will be different. For instance, if you wanted to start with Precious Metal Clay (PMC), you would need a bigger and lower table top, and you would need extra space for the kiln instead of a soldering space.

Back to how I decided to set up.

I had a couple of very limiting factors to contend with, the main one being the requirement for being able to use the spare bedroom I had invaded for overseas visitors at least once or twice a year.

That meant that all furniture had to be able to be disassembled into pieces that I could carry by myself for when I had to clear out of the room.

It also meant that I could not have anything permanently attached to the walls.

Another limitation was space. Although the room is relatively large I had to share with our bicycles. “Bicycles?!” I hear you say. Well, one of the sports we do is bicycling, which involves some not-so-cheap carbon fiber bikes that we don’t really want to have sitting in the garage. I know, but you have to be a cyclist to understand. Anyhow, that meant that I really only have the back part of the room that I can use.

Lastly, I knew that I would need a fair number of power plugs for flex shaft, polish motor, lights, etc. So with only one power outlet in the room I needed to be somewhat creative on that front too.

So what I came up with was a layout that consists of the main bench with a small extension table that would hold the wet stuff in one end, the soldering area in the middle, and the bench-top polish motor in the other end.

Jewelry Studio workshop floor plan

Jewelry studio workshop floor plan (download pdf file)

Selecting a Jewelers Bench

I quickly realized that trying to find a bench and a side desk that would fit both the room and my requirements would be near impossible so I turned to my other great passion: woodworking. Basically, I ended up designing and building all the required pieces of furniture from scratch. A bit crazy, I know, and obviously not for everybody, but that way I could also keep cost down while still getting a top-quality super sturdy setup. I won’t go into detail about the bench built here since I have covered that in My Bench Built Project post.

There is obviously a ton of areas where I had to compromise heavily. For instance, the “wet area” is really only a tray with water and the pickle pot. It would be great to have a sink and tab. I have also had to forgo the heavy hammer area (i.e. a stump / anvil) due to lack of space, so if I have to do any heavy stuff I have to resort to my cellar woodworking workshop where I have more room.

So to summarize, think about what processes you need room for, what tools and machines you will be using and in which order. Take into account the physical constraints of your room and create a map of what you will fit where. That will give you dimensions which you can use to buy or build your furniture and equipment.

A couple of things I learned:

You will need more room for tools than you think.

Get an electrician to install more power plugs rather than have extension cables everywhere.

Get a room you can occupy permanently.