Jeweler's Bench 1: The Top

My wife and I have been sharing my workbench out in the garage for my woodworking projects as well as her jewelry making projects for a while now but we both decided it was time for her to have her own workbench. We looked around online and found some nice looking jeweler’s benches but of course I said: “I could just build you one of those.”, so here we are. I quickly looked around for some plans but didn’t find any so I just had her pick out the one she liked best and decided to give it a go based on the picture of the one she selected.

Bench Image

I’m building the jeweler’s bench mainly out of baltic birch plywood and alder. The picture above shows a maple butcher block type top, but I couldn’t afford one of those so I built up my top from the plywood and wrapped it with the alder. This meant I had to figure out a way to wrap that curved section on the front of the bench. I thought about using a veneer but I don’t think that would hold up very well once she starts really using the bench. Instead I created a template of the profile from some 1/4” MDF and using my jigsaw for the rough cut (I don’t have a band saw) and my router with a flush trim bit I cut the bench top to the profile.

Bench top template

I then used the same template to cut out three pieces of alder to use as the wrapping of the front edge. Well, when I finished with that I found that the pieces of alder didn’t really match the profile in the bench top. They were close, but something wasn’t right. I’ll admit that it took me a little while to understand what went wrong. Well, it started with the creation of my template. See, I made the template from the edge of the piece of MDF which meant I really only had one part of the template. (Technically I did have the other part, the waste cut, but it was too small to clamp in place and use.) Anyway, when I used the template to create the face of the wrapping it worked fine, but when I slid the template back to cut the back side of the wrapping I really needed to be following the other piece of the template instead. This basically comes down to the fact that the corners of the profile are curved and this meant that while my bit was following the outside radius of a curve it was cutting the inside radius of that curve into the back side of the wrapping and that is why they didn’t match up properly. Hopefully that description makes sense. ;-) I ended up creating the missing template on the opposite edge of the MDF (as shown in the picture above) and then cut the top to match the back of the wrapping pieces. This meant not much was wasted, except time and a few brain cells.

Glue-up

Once I figured all of that out the rest was pretty straight forward since the remaining wrap pieces are all straight and I just butted them up at 90 degree angles. I glued everything up, secured it all with some countersunk screws that will get some plugs or buttons added later, and rounded off all of the sharp corners.

Mostly Complete Top

The top is 37”x25” and is 2” thick with 3 1/2” edge wrapping on the sides and back. I still have a couple of things to do on the bench top before it is finished but they are pretty minor. Next time I will be building the leg assembly so stay tuned. Oh, and as always, be safe and watch where you’re routing. ;-)

Careful.

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