To keep my bench top free of permanently-mounted tools, I flush-mounted two rare earth magnets along the edge to hold two tools I use ALL the time. I just pop them onto the magnets when I need them and store them away when I don't. They're holding strings at the moment.
Here is my fret bender. Since it's aluminum, I epoxied a hunk of steel on its bottom.
The magnets come in handy for grabbing used strings (see the first pic above) as well as other steel accoutrements of our trade. I have steel-backed diamond whetstones for chisel and knife sharpening that stay in place beautifully. I'll occasionally stick a mill file down and work things against it. Best to keep your mechanical watch away, though.
As a bonus, here's my Weller holster. It's super handy, made from an old stainless bicycle bottle cage, back before carbon fiber became all the rage.
That's really great! I sense that my afternoon project is shaping-up...
i like it except that now you've got an area right front and center on your bench that you'll have to always keep an electric guitar away from!
if you get the guitar pickups near those magnets the pickups will get wrecked. just having the guitar in your lap while sitting at that bench will put the pickups right in the danger zone.
Using Mark's idea but with the magswitches, you could mount one under the bench so it's flush with the top surface [obviously you need to be able to reach under to turn it on and off], then you could stick any magnetic jig down solidly, but still be pickup-safe when the magswitch is "off".
THAT is a great idea. One of the 150lb magswitches should hold about anything I do.
I hate to disagree with you but science shows us the way. The field strength of these 1/8" N42 magnets is ~ 35 Gauss (Gs) at a distance of 1/16". At 2" that field strength drops to ~ 6 Gs and at 6" it drops to ~ .5 Gs. Beyond that, it is infinitesimally low, and for our purposes essentially non-existent. At 6" my gauss meter begins to pick up the other magnetic fields in my shop emanating from lighting, my computer, glue pot, etc. The Gs at the very spot on my bench where electric guitars get worked on measures ~ .4. Just about anywhere in my shop returns the same measurement.
To effect a meaningful change in a pickup magnet like a Strat, the magnet must pass through a field strength of around 40 Gs at a distance of ~ 1/8 to 1/4".
BTW, I have a magnet rig to do this very job on Strat and Tele pickups using a pair of 3/4" x 1" N52 (higher field strength than N42) neodymium magnets. The Gs measure about 44.
The strongest field in my shop (by a factor of ten) occurs in the vicinity of my two guitar amplifiers :). Whod've thunk? Both measure around 6 Gs about 6" in front of the speaker! That's ten times stronger than the field around the bench magnets at the same distance. If you are a fan (as I am) of cranking up an amp and making it feedback by manipulating your guitar in front of the amp, you are subjecting your pickups to a much stronger field than the bench magnets, but, the field is so weak relatively speaking that it won't affect a pickup in any meaningful way.
Nice work Mark, Its an ugly scene when science and reality collides with folk/luthiery myth.
Little beauties like travelling on electric trains gave English guitarists a different sound due to demagnification of the guitar pickups by the electric motor fields. Or don't lean your guitars up against the quadboxes because the monster magnets on the back of the speakers will demagnify your pickups - I'm still waiting after 20 years of this (apparently) bad practice. You want to make a good holddown system or magnetic sweeper for the workshop just pull apart a toasted guitar speaker.
Pickups come in bulk boxes pretty much cheek to jowel with their magnets pretty close to the other magnets and survive quite well etc etc
So, Mark, thanks again for your use of science to overcome voodoo. On some forums you would be burned at the stake as a heretic.
Regards Rusty. .
Heretic? Well, it wouldn't be the first time! :) I find myself questioning "conventional" wisdom a lot these days. Much of what I thought I knew to be true (in our trade, and life in general) has proven otherwise in many instances. In fact, the longer I'm in this guitar repair game, I'm certain the less I know!! However, I enjoy digging for the facts and drawing more thoughtful conclusions rather than accepting certain assertions at face value.
While I'm at it, I'll offer another "myth-buster". I had someone tell me one time that if he ever saw a tech soldering on a guitar with a Weller gun, he'd turn and run the other way because the Weller would demagnetize the pickups, plus it's just too darn hot for a guitar.
I chose to let that one fly based on my experience as a welder in the oil fields of western Colorado, as well as in production facilities welding everything from Grove cranes to stainless steel dip tanks to cattle guards to broken equipment etc. The takeaway is that everything in welding is about managing heat in a timely fashion at the point of attack, so to speak, especially regarding thin materials. Those skills carry over into soldering at a 1:1 ratio! Knowing how to manage the heat quickly is everything. High heat administered rapidly has far less potential to damage delicate components than low heat administered slowly. A Weller gun tip is capable of very high heat and is a joy to work with if you practice the skill. I own a Solomon soldering station which is capable of very low temps. I use it on printed circuits and the like, but it's the Weller gun for pots, switches, jacks, etc.
As to demagging the pickups, again, the gauss meter tells me otherwise. The field at just 2" from the gun in any direction is ~ .3 Gs. At 6" it disappears into the surrounding fields generated by the other appliances in the shop. So, no pickups are wrecked on my bench :)
thanks for the actual math! that clears things up nicely, and yeah, inverse square law and all that says you have to get right up on those magnets to mess up a pickup.
that's kinda what i meant though! you've got a spot dead front and center of the bench that you have to always be watching out that the front of the guitar body never touches. i'd rather have my guitar bench be guitar-safe over its entire area, including its front edge. that way i'm not having to worry about "OK to set it here but not here" while i'm working on it. (my guitar repair world is one of constant phone calls and other interruptions, anything that keeps a momentary distraction from turning into a damaged guitar is welcome!)
to be fair, maybe i'm thinking more of a "final setup bench" where "everything padded and protected" should be the order of the day. it looks like your pictured bench is more for deeper-level repairs and stuff? i guess it's not like it would be good for a guitar to bump into the edge of that exposed-wood bench anyway, magnets or not.
for a secondary "drilling and sawing and stuff" bench i totally dig it.