Q: I’d like to get a GRS Benchmate system for supporting my work, but the budget’s not there. Are there any alternative setups that are nearly as useful as the Benchmate systems?
A: Try just a standard cheap wood bench pin, and a similarly cheap wooden ring clamp with leather jaws. Consider these tools unfinished as sold. You need to shape them, especially the bench pin, to serve your needs. Notches can be cut in the pin to better support the ring clamp while you work, and the ring clamp itself can be notched to hook onto an edge of the bench pin. The GRS bench pin holder, which you can buy separately, is a great system and costs much less than their whole setup, but you can get other cheaper bench pin clamps too.
If you use one, you are not limited to just one bench pin. You can set up one for piercing flat sheet, another for filing castings that may work better with angled surfaces on the pin, and another with a curve cut into the edge shaped to better support the ring clamp. While I have, and use, the GRS systems, frankly, for the bulk of my work, I use the standard wood clamps. They are faster to move around, faster to change workpieces, and are somewhat more mobile for different positions. Most of the world’s jewelry gets made with the cheap traditional bench pins and holding tools, so don’t feel you must get the GRS system. It’s a great tool, but it’s not something you cannot work without.