Here's a simple write-up on how I set up a still-table for photographing small objects. A wood turner, for instance, might find such a set-up useful.
I based my still-table on an old work-mate.
I set a piece of old counter-top on top of the work-mate to give me a larger, flat surface. I then added two cheap swing-arm lights with full-spectrum daylight bulbs.
I added a piece of black felt from a fabric store, and by picking different wattages for the bulbs in the lights, and moving them back and forth, I can get different effects.
And here is the final image from this little example shoot:
I guess my point is that you don't need a particularly elaborate setup. By using the swing-arm lamps and the camera on a tripod with no flash, you can preview the image and get the shot you want without much trouble or expense.