One of the most frequently asked questions I get is "How high should I make my faceting machine?" To answer that question I always respond by focusing on the chair first. The chair is perhaps one of the most critical pieces of equipment in any faceter's workshop. The reason is quite simple of course. You are going to spend hour after hour in that chair and it needs to fit like a glove. Once you find the perfect fit chair that gives you support for your size, you can then begin measuring the rest of the setup.
Occasionally someone will ask me how high my chair is. Unfortunately that's not much help since I am 6'9" and weigh ..... well, let's just say I need a serious Papa Bear chair. With all this in mind, I've put together a suggestion list for setting up a workspace that is both functional and comfortable. No matter whether you're a hobbyist or professional, having the proper setup can make faceting a more enjoyable experience. You might consider this a check list to see how your setup fits.
|Dalan 'doing it right' in his own custom Workspace|
1. Find a suitable space you can dedicate to set up your shop. I happen to like the corner of a room so I can have shelves or storage space to the left or right of the faceting bench.
2. Get an office chair that fits your size. Raise the chair so that your knees are bent as close to 90 degrees as possible. Find one that gives you back support and arm rest if you prefer. While sitting in your properly adjusted chair you can now begin measuring and organizing the rest of your setup.
3. Adjusting the height of your faceting machine is the second most critical measurement of all. Most people I know have grabbed any old desk or table first and then tried to fit everything else around it. Remember this is only a suggestion. While sitting in your chair, try to imagine slightly nodding your head forward to comfortably inspect a stone mounted in your machine of choice. Measure the height of that stone down to the floor. Next measure your machine with the quill in your inspection position. (from the stone down to the work surface the machine sits on.) By subtracting that from the first measurement you took down to the floor, you now have the height your work surface needs to be.
4. Now you can begin looking for a suitable piece of furniture for your faceting machine. You might consider building your faceting machine into a desk or counter top or even building a custom fit desk. You can always add support blocks or extend or shorten legs if necessary to achieve the proper height.
5. Proper lighting can have a huge impact on the whole process. I recommend having an overhead light to light the whole area and a movable flex or arm type of light for inspecting facets as you go. A florescent fixture is adequate to light the general area but not for inspection. Inspection lights are highly subjective to the user. I prefer a single 40 or 60 watt soft white light bulb. Knowing how to use it is subject for another discussion.
6. While sitting in your chair with your machine situated at the proper height you're ready to start accessorizing. I suggest you start with lap storage. The word here is "convenience group". You'll be changing laps frequently and you want them close, easy to get to and protected. It's best to locate this area out of the splash zone to minimize contamination. As a rule, in a cabinet or on shelves I keep the coarse grit laps lower than sanding and those lower than polishing. This helps fight contamination since particles fall down not up.
7. Continue accessorizing with a dedicated dop station. This is where I prefer a corner with a shelf mounted at the proper height for you, to use for dopping stones and dop storage. This should be a secure location where things won't get disturbed if you use glue dopping methods or where you can store dopped stones waiting to be cut. Some place where the cat can't knock them over. Ask me how I know that.
8. Now let's think about chemical storage. Many of the chemicals used in faceting can be dangerous to children and even adults who use them. Having a secure cabinet or drawer is a must. For spray bottles with diamond, cerium, denatured alcohol and so on, you will want to keep them close at hand for use, however, they should go back in storage for safe keeping when not in use.
9. To finish accessorizing you might want a drawer for tweezers, gages and various other hand tools you will use while faceting.
10. Additional equipment you will use includes a trim saw. This is one piece of equipment I don't mind being located some distance from the faceting machine since it tends to make a mess wherever it is.
Again, these are only suggestions for those who don't know where to start with a setup. The most important thing is to take the time to make your work area fit you. It will be time well spent.
For more details on Dalan's Gem Cutting Activities, please visit www.gemstarz.com