Move to outside workshop


My bench, all made from reclaimed stuff. The top cane from a skip, the table it sits on was being slung out. Its raised on two rough sawn off cuts, not elegant, effective though.


‘Plier rack’ is an old plate stand, keeps files to hand as well. The filing cabinet has my tumbler, pickle pot (an old slow cooker, make sure its ceramic, not metal if you try yourself) and one or two fondue set mini pickle pots, heated by tea lights, for small work. The table/stand is a laptop stand, height adjustable, very useful.


Solis cast iron surface plate, or sometimes called a flat iron, perfect for checking the trueness of raising, marking out and checking for flatness. Old fire bricks salvaged from electric night storage heaters, two turntables, the smaller one for a T/V, the other is a twist exerciser, both plastic so be careful. With the size of the bricks placed on the soldering table, I have no issue with heat reaching the turntable. Both found in junk shops.


Truly awesome guillotine, I took this apart and painted it. It is so heavy, I used a motorcycle jack to help take it apart. As it was over a small drain, the weight cracked through the alloy drain, toppling it onto my pushbike, you should see the dent in the frame ;/


A mod roc, wire and wood ‘sculpture’ I made for a project. Do you think it would work in copper for outside?


Swage machines, part of the tinsmiths hall. All need to be cleaned up and restored.


Two old slip rollers, along with my modern rolling mill. Restoration of the old ones later!!!!


Some of my hammers. That fan is great, force 10 at least, no paperwork out when this is running.


A belt and disc sander I use for roughing out amongst other things the chasing tools you see here. They are attached by strip magnets used for storing knives in kitchens, you guessed it, from a second hand shop. The trolley, on wheels, was salvaged from a skip.


Birds eye view. Got to have a cuppa tea. I’m British don’t ya know 🙂 The stool I use is a piano stool, the pad is on a screw thread, just spin it for height adjustment.


Couldn’t resist this, beautiful at night, with switchable effects, just plain white, reminds me of the stars, you have to be here to see the full fantastic effect.


My disc cutter, truly fantastic, beautiful machine. Always make me giggle every time I use it.


A Norton fly press, more to come in the near future with this machine. The machine to the right, just visible the two rollers, is a bowl forming machine. Alas one of the cast gears is broken, on another post I will introduce my “dirty” workshop, (my garage) and the machine tools I will be using to repair it. Most of the stakes came from the tinsmith hall, along with most of the machines here, see text for explanation.


Wato wato one and all

Not posted for a while, work and a direction revisited from a previous time have meant not much happening at the moment. I was hoping the start of the holiday season would be more fruitful than it has proven to be so far. I have just made a batch of wire forged bangles. Alas they are difficult to photograph, I wanted to send them off to the jewellery workshop to try to get some cash-flow going, I will get the next batch professionally photographed, I’m very pleased with them.

To the subject of this post, my move to outside with my jewellery work. Long story short, Reen, as you know, is a woodturner, membership secretary for Cornwall woodturners

Now when we started with the workshop in the back garden I ‘shared’ it with her. As her hobby has grown, so has her collection of wood, not to mention the acquiring of a bandsaw and other wood related stuff. I resolved to just do larger work there, keeping my jewellers bench and associated bits in our spare bedroom. Burnt holes in the carpet and black smeetch marks from soldering/annealing led to the executive decision that I had to go outside.

Great news, Reen has a new shed. I now have re claimed the workshop, I thought I would share some pictures while it resembles some form of order.

I purchased a couple of years ago a complete tinsmith workshop tooling. As you see it is in a fairly rough state, the guillotine, disc cutter and fly press the only three things, apart from the odd stake, that I have gotten round to repairing/restoring. It was fantastic to meet the chap who sold it to me, he worked at this job, for the same firm all his working life. When he retired, the business closed down, he kept all the tooling in a, sadly, leaky lock up. He showed me a fly press die that he said was his first job when he started at 15 years of age. I’m now the very proud custodian of these time capsules. I don’t know if look forward is the right term, however as the years go by, time permitting, I will slowly restore each part. I have only shown some of what I have, I will introduce you to more as time goes on. Some of these machines, like the bowl maker, or the crimper with the associated accessories, are simply fascinating and wondrous to behold. All made from solid cast sections that are hernia inducing to move around. These industrial relics were the CNC machines of their time, I am very privileged to own these machines, they give me immense pleasure as I look at them, trying to figure out how they work, imagining the chap, his working lifetime etched into each one.

I know this has little to do with silversmithing per say, however these machines and associated stakes can be pressed into service for silversmithing purposes, as I intend to show you over the times we share.

I have pretty much completed a commission I will share with you next time, including some more, made from stuff lying around tools you can make yourself.

I apologise in advance for an upcoming post that shows my “dirty” workshop. A very nice person has expressed an interest in the old engineering machines I am fortunate enough to look after. Please don’t dismiss it as I feel sure, as people interested in making things, you should get something from it.

Until next time. All my very best wishes.

Stu Art


3 thoughts on “Move to outside workshop

  1. Pingback: Move to outside workshop | Off The Grid Designs Blog

  2. Thank you, Stuart, for inviting us in your studio. What a treat!
    I can see some really ingenious repurposing, like the pliers and file rack and the desk. You have a knack for finding (and bringing back to life) old forgotten pieces of equipment. That very large iron plate must be amazing; the guillotine – awesome indeed (I always wanted one of those). I am curious about the yellow clamp on the front of your bench, what is it exactly? Seems quite useful (Not originally intended for jewellery work, I’m guessing?) Questions: What kind of pickling solution are you using? I found that I had to move my pickle pot farther away from my bench because it made my tools rust really quickly. And how does your disc cutter work?
    The ceiling is a nice touch, by the way. You are an artist at heart.
    Looking forward to your next post and your old engineering machines.

    • Thank you very much, the pleasure was mine, such joy to see someone else like similar things 🙂
      Very generous to think me an artist, I should give you the contact details of my ex tutors, oh how they would laugh at you.
      I use a safety pickle available from Cookson Gold, a large jewelery supply outlet in the U/K, look them up, I have not had any problems like that with my tools rusting being close to the pot. Fair to say I will be more aware of it in future though. As a side thought, I tend to cover my tools, when I think about it, with Renaissance wax to protect them. We get a lot of condensation build up, causes havoc with exposed bare metal.
      Ahhh the disc cutter, fair to say a particular favourite, as I say, it makes me giggle like a child every time I use it. It is such a characterful tool, it even sounds bell like when you crank the handle. I am going to ask Reen if she can take a short video clip of it for me to share with you, and any other like minded souls. It is a real treat to see, with the sound on a video I hope you will be able to enjoy the jingling sound also. I am reluctant to rub it down and re-paint it, preferring to keep that used patina. I will commit to make that happen in the coming days, stay tuned 😉
      As for the yellow clamp. This is a ball vice from Stanley. As you asked, after I have written this, I will post another page to explain RT blanking as a result of your question. This is from a couple of years ago, the vice looks very new and shiny in the pictures taken then, not now though! Also the ring project that is near complete will highlight other advantages of this vice. I find a fixed bench pin too limiting. This tool enables me to alter all angles to aid sawing, filing and general finishing. With the turn of either of the clamp screws fixed to it, by hand. I can swivel it around, remove it to make a clear, uncluttered space for fiddly, up close work needing a flat surface, constantly changing/removing, putting it back in seconds. Also, because the vice section is on a stalk attached to the ball, I lift it high to use a soldering stand. The soldering stand is a homemade (no really) ‘turntable’ made from a discarded record player, I think. As it is above the table, it is safer to solder up higher away from the work surface. I will include, in future posts, more uses I put this wonderfully inexpensive vice to.
      I will post soon the ‘dirty’ workshop. Reen looked in horror when I wrote this, I feel sure you understand, ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ workshops. The dirty one has oil and metal shavings being flung all over the place, the clean is far more sedate, more hammering and gentle filing.
      Thank you so much for your interest, smashing to get questions and share thoughts. I’m going to dig out the RT blanking bits and bobs now to post just after this.
      Kindest regards and very best wishes.
      Stuart 🙂

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