Catch-Trays for the Studio




Anyone who has spent any time sawing, filing or sanding metal knows that all of this work goes hand-in-hand with lots of scraps and dust. If you're looking for something to gather all of these scraps look no further! Here is a step-by-step guide to make the catch trays we designed and constructed for our jewelry studio. 

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Step 1: Materials

.1/2"x30" double-threaded galvanized steel pipe (you will cut this in half)
.1/2"x6" double threaded galvanized steel pipe nipple (you will need 2)
.1/2" galvanized steel 90 degree elbow (you will need 2)
.1/2" galvanized steel floor flange (you will need 2)
.1"x30" PVC pipe (you will cut this in half)
.1" PVC coupling (you will cut this in half)
.1" PVC end cap (you will need 2)
.42"x22" of catch-tray material 
.thread and sewing machine
.glue/thread lock (optional)

Step 2: Step 1: Prepare Materials

First you will need to cut the various pipes down to the correct size. If you're using any machinery to cut these pieces, be sure to wear protective eye-wear and a dust-mask!

-Cut the double threaded 30" steel pipe into two equal 15" lengths and sand the edges.
-Cut the 1" PVC coupling in half and sand the edges.
-Cut the 30" length of PVC pipe into equal 15" lengths and sand the edges.

Step 3: Step 2: Mount Hardware

To secure the catch-trays, you will need to attach two 1/2" floor flanges onto the underside of the table. Measure 12" from either side of the center of your bench pin and 15" from the edge of the table that is closest to you.  These are the points where you will need to attach the floor flanges. Secure the flanges to the table with 4 sturdy screws. 

**For our catch-trays we mounted the floor flanges onto a piece of 2X4 wood first and then mounted that piece of wood onto the underside of the table.  If you're worried about keeping the flanges perfectly even or have trouble accessing the underside of your table this might be a good solution for you as well.

Step 4: Step 3: Attach Steel Pipes

Screw 6" pipes onto the floor flanges as tightly as possible.  You may need to use a wrench to get them completely tight.

Screw the 90 degree steel elbows onto each 6" steel pipe. Make sure that these are screwed in as tightly as possible while still pointing out towards the bench-pin.

Screw the 15" lengths of steel pipe onto the elbows as tightly as possible. 

**For our studio, we used thread lock to secure these threaded joints. This will probably not be necessary for you, but if your catch-tray will be used by many people or you think it may experience a lot of wear and tear, glue may be helpful.

Step 5: Step 4: Getting Started on the Tray

Now that you have the skeleton of the catch-tray done, you can move on to the actual tray.  Download the pattern here:  Print off each page and tape the pages together so that the lines connect. Pages 1-5 will go along the top row and pages 6-10 will line up along a second row underneath the first. Trace the pattern onto your material and cut it out.  Be sure to remember to cut slits for the darts.

** For our catch-trays, we were given tarp-like material that is typically used for heavy-duty banners.  If you don't have access to this kind of material, anything that is easily washed out and won't wear out will work.  Some suggestions we had are tarp, leather, pleather, and vinyl. Get creative! 

Step 6: Step 5: Sewing!!

Now you're ready to sew the catch-tray.  We used heavy-duty thread for our catch-trays, but you will need a needle and thread that corresponds to the fabric that you have chosen to make your tray from.

First fold over the edges on the left and right sides to meet the solid line so that the   Sew along the dotted lines.  It is a good idea to pin these seams first and check to make sure the pvc pipe will fit into the channel. Also be sure to reinforces the beginning and end of the seam so that it doesn't unravel over time. 

Once both seams are done you can move on to the the darts.  Before you sew the darts, make sure you pin them so you can be sure the material doesn't bunch or pull. You want a nice rounded tray without corners or folds that may trap dust and scraps  Overlap the edges of the darts to form a "V" until the pieces create a straight line along the back of the tray. Sew along both edges. Repeat this for each dart. 

Step 7: Step 6: Assembly

You're almost done! 

Insert the 15" PVC pipes into the channels in the tray.  Attach the 1/2" PVC pieces onto the back end of the PVC pipes.  Attach the PVC endcaps onto the front ends of the PVC pipes. Make sure that they are secured.  We used a hammer to gently tap them onto the PVC pipe.

Step 8: Step 7: Start Catchin'!

To attach your tray all you need to do is slide the PVC pipes onto the steel pipes, and you're ready to catch everything. To use the tray, sit at the bench pin and slide the catch-tray out until is is under the bench pin.  To empty the tray you can easily remove it from the steel pipes.


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    22 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I used to work on watches at a jewelry store. Both of the watchmaker's benches had a built in "apron" . They were framed in wood and one used leather, the other used fabric for the apron. The wooden frame to which the aprons were attatched were attached to the desk by slides. Being supported on all four sides allowed the material of the apron to form a depression in the middle. I haven't read all the instructable but it appears the fabric in this instructable would be supported only at two sides giving more of a hammock hang to the fabric. I think this would make it more likely that something could escape either at back or at front of the apron. At the store our jewelers bench had an open drawer with metal (I would guess tin) lining the drawer.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    great instructable!
    but.. why not just secure the bottom of a regular neck apron to the edge of the work surface? They make specialty "jewelers aprons" just for this purpose, and they are little more that just that.

    I like the Idea, but, to me, it just seems a little over complicated for what you are trying to do

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    our goal was to make catch trays for every bench in a shared school studio. what this means is that the trays would have to be durable enough to withstand lots of misuse by lots of people as well as lasting for as long as possible. since it's a shared studio, things that aren't bolted down may end up walking off or getting broken. this is why the design ended up being a little more complicated.

    we did consider a design that would just tie around your waist like an apron and connect to the bench. however, we all do a lot of moving around in the studio whether it be to go to the hammer room, the machine room, or the soldering bench. it wouldn't make sense to be tied into the bench in our specific studio.

    all of these concerns were a little specific to our situation, so i'm sure there are plenty of other ways to solve the problem. i love hearing all of the other solutions jewelers have beens sharing!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    That's a pretty good idea. What method do you prefer to use when purifying your bench scraps? Have you have any luck with nitric acid precipitations?
    p.s. It might be time for a new bench pin :)

    1 reply

    we don't actually purify our metals here aside from casting ingots from scrap silver. we have communal scrap buckets for copper and brass that get taken to a refiner from time to time, and the profits go back into improving the studio.

    hahah..yeah the bench pins have taken a lot of abuse. that's what happens when you're sharing it with 50 other students, i guess.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The catch tray is absolutley essential on the jewellers workbench, every teeny-tiny little bit of precious metal needs to be captured, especially gold and platinum, as it can all be re-used. It's a BIG money saver!!
    (Just to give you an idea, during one year of my course I saved all my silver scrap, inlcuding the filings dust, took it all back to my supplier and received about AU$300.00 credit for it!)

    This is a pretty cool design, although it does seem a little overcomplicated, with all those extra bits and bobs to put it all together. In the studio I shared last year the catch trays were of similar shape and material, only made with a deeper and attached directly to the base of the bench with velcro or press-studs. This made it SUPER easy to rip them off, empty, clean and slap back on again, (literally!) and you wouldn't then need the steel and PVC pipes.

    Easier and cheaper and much more of a time saver in terms of construction. This also stopped material escaping back underneath, and they hung higher up (closer beneath the pin), in comparison to these, but this is also a personal preference of mine and perhaps not something all jewellers can work with.

    Great 'ible, and thanks for sharing!!

    1 reply

    thanks, it's been interesting hearing solutions that other studios have come up with. we wanted to make something that would be really durable, and stand up to the test of time. that's why we went with the pipes rather than just velcro or snaps. with so many students filtering in throughout the day anything that's not essentially indestructible will get broken. it might be hard to tell in the photos, but the size and positioning off these work pretty well. they sit far enough back that things don't fall over the back edge.


    8 years ago on Step 5

    There is a much easier/faster way to make the fabric catch tray. Use a rectangular piece of fabric and round the ends that will become the tubes that slide over the PVC. This will cause the free front and back edges to pull up since they are shorter than the middle, and the middle section of the tray to sag down, making sure that nothing escapes. This is a technique used frequently in the Home Dec industry for making swag curtains/drapes. For example, if your rectangle is 30" x 18", you would round the ends so that the middle measured 30" but the outside edges (front & back edge)  would only measure 24". This means that each side end is 3" shorter than the middle section. The ends are folded over and the tube is sewn as usual. Takes a little manipulating to sew the ends since curves don't like to follow a straight line but having some of it on a semi-bias helps. If you examine a swag curtain, you will see that the hemmed area is always on grain and the piece that goes on the rod is always cut on the curve.

    spark master

    8 years ago on Step 8

    very nice, if you take a lock nut or two for each pipe connection and thread them on first , after you get pipes into position, you back them off very tight and using an old flat head screw driver and a hammer pound them off (which they can't cause you put the pipe in) will be so tight the pipe does not move, if you use two per connection then lock them in 1 at a time. This is how we connect steel boxes to pipe in electricians trade. The metal used in nut is springy (a bit) and so provides a back pressure enough to make a very tight fit. Using lock tight is great but this adds mechanical tightness. Also since there are all women in the picture I saw, use old bottles of nail polish for lock tight liquid. You must really clean off the pipe first, since it is bathed in oil when you thread it, so you do not burn the threader dies.

    The silver smith shop in Colonial Williamsburg (Va) they used leather for the skirts and they are mailed to the table , and they were fitted to thte artisan. like an apron around the waist. They did not have plastics obviously, but perhaps if available they would not build up static charge in a/c or winter hours, although this may not be an issue.

    great instructable


    8 years ago on Introduction

    elegant--simple but so useful and readily adaptable


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    they're called bench-pins. we use the in the jewelry studio to support the small pieces while we're sawing/filing/generally working on the piece.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    This will also work for catching items that fall out of assemblies during disassembly. Things often fall forward between the legs. Thanks -Lee

    Nice idea. From looking at the photos you could put more material on the underside of the pipes to create more of a dip in the back. So when "stuff" falls in it continues to fall into a catch tray you could put on the shelf area in the middle of the table. Sort of a catch basin for both sides that wouldn't need to be emptyed as much. Just a thought.

    1 reply

    that's an interesting idea! the only reason we have individual trays for each bench is because we want to keep the scrap metal as pure as possible, but that's a great idea for places where purity isn't a concern.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Simple yet SO GENIUS! I do a lot of drawing and drafting, and the eraser makes an appearance more often then I like, and im always just sweeping the eraser shavings on the floor and having to sweep later... this is a great idea for a drafting table!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    With a few easy modifications, this would work very well for beaders too. Thanks!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting and well done. But I think this tray is useful only for tasks as yours, where the filing may be valuable, and you work sitting.

    In my case, I think it would be rather a bit annoying. I use many tools that produce fillings, and also the stick welder. Besides, I work almost always standing, changing position all the time.