Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Building Jewellery Benches with the Urban Bush Carpenters

This weekend's Urban Bush Carpenters workshop Building Jewellery Benches was a lovely day of community woodworking. On a beautiful sunny Saturday, we got together to build two work benches that were taken home by two participants: one a traditional jeweller's bench with a sturdy top, a cutout and a sweeps tray, and the other a work bench with an unusually shaped bench top, perfect to fit into a corner, which will be used for jewellery tools including a bench-top rolling mill. 

 Attaching legs to a corner-shaped bench top.

In the Urban Bush Carpenters tradition, the benches were made entirely from found, recycled wood, including a found keyboard tray from an old office desk used as a sweeps tray for the jeweller's bench. We even pulled apart a pallet to use pallet boards as cross beams to support the bench legs. 

 Countersinking screws to attach supports to a bench top. The legs will be bolted to these supports. 

Everyone got to have a go at using a hand saw to cut boards to length, an electric drill and screwdriver to pre-drill screw holes and screw pieces together, and a crowbar and mallet to pull apart pallet boards. 

The group building the traditional jeweller's bench drilled holes to bolt the legs on, but left the legs separate to be attached later, after working out that with the legs attached, the bench wouldn't fit into the car! 

Drilling bolt holes for the legs of the jeweller's bench. In the background: cutting pallet boards for support pieces. 

The bench tops and wood for the legs was all found as rubbish around town before the workshop. The two bench tops are quite sturdy, but the corner-shaped top introduced new challenges since the legs had to be attached in a different configuration. The team worked together to figure out the best way to attach the legs and the supports. In the end they decided to cut a slot into each of two pallet boards for the supports, and fit them together in an X. This cross piece was slotted in between the legs (below).

The jewellers building this bench were experts at making this solution work, having just done a similar assignment fitting together two 1mm thick copper sheets in an X for a project at NMIT!

The finished work bench

If you missed the workshop but are interested in building a bench, help yourself to the basic instructions below. Of course you'll have to do a bit of problem solving and changing of measurements to suit your found materials, so I've given relative, rather than absolute, measurements. ("Cut the support piece to the length of the bench top..." instead of an exact measurement.) There's a suggestion here for attaching a keyboard tray to use as a sliding sweeps tray, too. 

Happy building! If you build a bench of your own (or have already built one), send me a photo! I'd love to share your ideas here. 

The next Urban Bush Carpenters workshop at CERES is Saturday 21 September. But before that, we have an exhibition coming up at The Substation in Newport. Opening night will be Thursday 29 August, and there will be a public workshop on Sunday 1 September. More details about that coming soon! 

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