A bench pin is an important item in a jeweler’s studio. This small but technical instrument helps jeweler’s keep their hands steady as they enact intricate details in a confined space. For many artisans, a bench pen is the birthplace from which all designs are born. What is a jeweler’s bench pin?
Simply put, it’s a small wood block attached to a jeweler’s work table. With a jeweler’s bench pin, you can anchor tools to file, polish and set gemstones into jewelry.
You can find much more expensive and elaborate tools than a bench pin in an artist’s studio. Yet it’s at the heart of every design, and is ultimately the most valuable and used instrument to a jeweler.
Pull up a chair and get cozy as we saw through all the details related to jeweler’s bench pins.
At first glance, a jeweler’s bench pin might simply look like a piece of scrap wood. Don’t let it’s modest making fool you, there is technical skill and strategies to make best use of a bench pin. First thing’s first, let’s talk about the components of a bench pin. Most importantly, there are two faces of a jeweler’s bench pin: the flat face and angled face. Each face has different uses depending on what business you’re enacting with the design of each jewelry piece.
The flat face, or “top” of a bench pin is used most often and is where you’ll measure, layout, mark, saw and pierce. Once the design is nearly done and you’ve got a few finishing touches left, you’ll use the flat face to connect and assemble the item into a jewelry piece.
In most catalogues you’ll see the angled face featured, however it is not used as often as the flat face of a bench pin. Still, very important tasks are handled on the angled face. This is where jeweler’s hold objects in place for filing and carving. That’s because these tasks involve repetitive motion forward and backward, and the angle of the inclined face is easier to do this than with the flat face.
Then there is the last feature of a jeweler’s bench pin, the V-notch. This detail is exclusively dedicated to sawing.
We’ve covered the components of a jeweler’s bench pin, so where and how should it be placed in a studio for maximum efficiency? The bench pin gets attached to a jeweler’s workbench or table. There are important factors to consider when placing your jeweler’s bench pin, including:
Height: You want to set the bench pin at a comfortable working height, which is on the same plane as your armpit when you are sitting. That’s because you don’t want to be hunching over for hours to work at your bench pin.
To measure the right height: Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, hold your elbows tight against your ribs, bring your palms together at your chest and place your bench pin at the same height.
Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with a bench pin. In fact, it’s necessary. That’s because when you are doing intricate work, you need to keep close contact with the pin. It’s a hands-on process that involves relying on the bench pin to support you as you work.
Here are our tips to help you get the most out of your jeweler’s bench pin:
Place your thumb underneath the bench pin for added stability
Avoid holding objects in the air without the support of the bench pin. After all, it’s there for stability and support while you work--both of which air does not provide.
Replace your bench pin as necessary. It’s easy to get attached to something you work with every single day, but over time, your beautiful block will turn into dilapidated wood. There’s no harm in buying a new, fresh jeweler’s bench pin, which will make working easier.
Start slow and over time you will develop confidence and comfort working with your bench pin. Eventually, you’ll tap into your workflow and have a rhythm all your own.
Are all jewelry bench pins created equal? Choosing the right one depends on your preferences. Here’s a look at each of the different types of jeweler’s bench pins:
To easily attach and remove your bench pin, choose one with a C-Clamp. This is a great setup for beginner jewelers to practice making jewelry before investing in a professional workbench setup.
Every bench pin can easily be customized and tailored to your work needs. In fact, most jewelers customize their bench pins and it’s easily done. Common bench pin modifications include adding a smaller V-notch to the front edge, sawing angles for filing, a rounded edge for bracing, and more. There are no guidelines to customizing your bench pin, it’s ultimately up to you to make adjustments as needed.
If you are a seasoned artist who makes jewelry every day, you’ll want a fixed bench pin to secure to the workbench in your studio. This type of jeweler’s bench pin is equipped with an industrial metal holder rather than a clamp. To affix it to your workbench, insert the pin into the metal holder and use a screw to tighten it into place, then bolt it to your workbench. This is the sturdiest option for professional jewelers and artisans who need a dependable workspace.
A jeweler’s bench pin is the foundation where beautiful creations are born. Having the right setup and knowing how to properly use a bench pin will allow the artist the freedom to do what they do best: create beautiful jewelry.
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