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Thread: Setting up my first reloading bench. Any "dos and dont's"?

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Setting up my first reloading bench. Any "dos and dont's"?

    Got some equipment over the last few months for reloading. Dillion 550B and RCBS Rock Chucker namely. Bunch of other green items, electronic powder measure/thrower from RCBS, Forster case trimmers, etc.... Setting it all up next week.

    Will be reloading for 40 S&W, 357 mag, 38 special, 44 mag, 44 special, 9 mm, 32 H&R magnum, 500 S&W, and 10 mm for the pistols. Will be loading 300 Weatherby, 45-70, 7.62x54R, and eventually 50 BMG (after I get the press).

    Got a 6' x 3' industrial wood top workbench in the garage to mount stuff to. First consideration is where to mount the two presses. Curious if there is any must haves or things that you find particularly useful. Down to the smallest things, home made or bought, etc.. Thought about getting some good lighting for the bench so I can keep the overhead 8' strip lights in garage off. I read that the florescent lighting can effect electronic powder measure accuracy, although I fail to see the connection. Got a few manuals to get me started. Curious if there are any good online sources for ordering brass, bullets, and other components.


    Anything at all that you would tell a new guy setting up his first bench?


    Thanks for any comment.




    -Dan

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    Before you do anything, lay everything out 'dry' (no bolts) and do some dummy reloading runs. Just to see how all the ergonomics are; presses on the left or right, powder measures, scales etc. See how it all works as a 'production line'. Do this a few times, with a lot of dummy loads, see if your back aches, if you can reach everything without knocking stuff over etc. I find reloading to be much more enjoyable if everything has it's place and makes for easy order. This also helps to eliminate mistakes as there is always the same rountine from left to right.

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    Make sure your bench is stout and has a shelf or two under the top. Then load the shelves with very heavy stuff and if you can, bolt the bench to a wall. Make sure the top of the bench where the presses are mounted are either very strong or add a layer or two of 2x12 under where the press will be bolted. I just hate a bench that moves when I'm sizing large rifle brass. As I like some room on each side of a press I would mount them 16/18" in from each end.

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    Get a case tumbler for cleaning your brass.
    And send off for a Midway catalog. Lots of ways to spend money in there!
    I'd C-clamp the presses and stuff down until you figure out where you want it mounted.
    PM me your shipping address and I'll send you a USPS flatrate box full of 9mm once shot brass.
    I've got gobs of it I'll never use.
    Doug
    "The older I get, the better I was."

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    Can you make some sort of cover for your bench? Keeps everything from getting dust on them.
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    Keep it clean and well organized. Keep good notes. Never load ammo if you are in a hurry, it is supposed to be fun!

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    I second the make sure your bench is stout, I use an old Rock Chucker and there are some calibers that require you to really put some weight into the handle.. have fun!
    Oh and I almost forgot, check out midway usa for brass and such they have it all and are usually very reasonable.

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    My only suggestion is to set it up portable, here's mine I can attach it almost anywhere from my table to a tailgate ,or a stump in the woods,
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    +1 on good lighting
    lots and lots of storage and shelves.
    a second table is mighty handy for a cleaning cradle to hold the weapon when checking brass fit or cleaning. it can be light duty -as in portable or folding
    rod holders on the wall to hold cleaning rods and protect them
    i built my first bench high enough that a bar stool was needed if you wanted a seat. but i would still stand a lot when loading. i kind of wish i had it now cause i like to stand a lot

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by travelers View Post
    PM me your shipping address and I'll send you a USPS flatrate box full of 9mm once shot brass.
    I've got gobs of it I'll never use.
    Doug


    Thanks man. PM sent. I really appreciate it and will send you some country ham in return.



    -Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by travelers View Post
    Get a case tumbler for cleaning your brass.


    I got a green vibratory tumbler and the hand crank media separator as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh40 View Post
    Before you do anything, lay everything out 'dry' (no bolts) and do some dummy reloading runs. Just to see how all the ergonomics are; presses on the left or right, powder measures, scales etc..


    Awesome. Thanks man. Will do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    Make sure your bench is stout.

    360 pounds and built like a brick shiit house


    Custom built 4x4 base attached to industrial work bench to get it higher. I also custom ordered nicer caster wheels as the ones that came with it were junk. Unlike the 2 locking wheels on the design, I ordered 4 larger wheels that all have locks. Mounting wheels in the morning and it will finally be ready to get some reloading equipment mounted on it. The 4x4 frame will be attached to the steel frame with numerous 8" 3/8" carriage bolts. This 4x4 frame and attached larger casters raises the bench which will benefit me in many ways. Solid steel bench with 1 1/4" thick hardwood butcher block top.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitroman View Post
    Can you make some sort of cover for your bench? Keeps everything from getting dust on them.


    Got a cover for the two presses. The electronic RCBS powder measure/thrower will be kept in kitchen cabinet and used at kitchen table. Primed rounds (when using rock chucker) will be primed and then loaded with powder, then taken to garage to press. That takes away variables like dust, temp changes, humidity, florescent lights, etc.. from effecting the device adversely. Wife is thrilled about having primers, powder, and the measure/thrower in the kitchen. Truly stoked. Won't matter when using the Dillion 550B of course, but when loading the old fashioned way, I will be using kitchen for powder measuring and such.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin476 View Post
    Oh and I almost forgot, check out midway usa for brass and such they have it all and are usually very reasonable.

    I love MidwayUSA


    Great place to shop, no doubt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ironartist View Post
    My only suggestion is to set it up portable,

    The bench is solely for reloading so mounting is not much of a concern, but I like the thought. Would be a simple way to free up some table space. Catch would be rigging a portable system that is stable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ray porter View Post
    +1 on good lighting
    lots and lots of storage and shelves.
    a second table is mighty handy for a cleaning cradle to hold the weapon when checking brass fit or cleaning. it can be light duty -as in portable or folding
    rod holders on the wall to hold cleaning rods and protect them
    i built my first bench high enough that a bar stool was needed if you wanted a seat. but i would still stand a lot when loading. i kind of wish i had it now cause i like to stand a lot

    Thanks man. I have two identical benches side by side, one for reloading, other is a normal workbench. I will get a rifle cleaning mat and cradle for the other table. Wife will love it when I stop cleaning guns on the kitchen table. I am still searching for lighting options, but thinking about two mobile type desk lamps I can move around. Nice idea on the cleaning rod holders. Might make a simple wood item for this purpose and let the cleaning rods hang on wall by reloading bench. Great idea. Thank you.

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    Sounds like you have things pretty well figured out. I like those lights that have the double arm setup that moves all around. They have a cheesy clamp on base that I throw away and just mount a board on the wall above the bench with a series of holes in the top so the light fixture can be quickly moved from one end of the bench to the other. Also on the Dillion 550 it can be difficult to see into the charged case depending on how high the press is mounted. A small mirror can be mounted/ taped to the press so you can easily see in the powdered case while loading. I wouldn't bother trying to make your main presses portable. If you want one portable, get a used single stage press of any brand and bolt it to a piece of 2x8 so it can be clamped to most anything. You probably won't use it much but it could be handy on occasion. Sounds like your off to a great start. Good luck. Keeping all your loading stuff off the kitchen table will certainly help with domestic tranquility.

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    All good thoughts above. Over the years I ended up with 5 different presses and ended up mounting each press on a small piece of 13/16" plywood and I attach the mounted presses to the bench with 3/4" bolts (2) so I can change presses fairly easily. Also, I found those cheap construction lights that have a spring clamp to work well and they are easy to move.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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    I started out almost like you with a Dillon 550B and a Lee turret. After a few years of reloading I've added quit a bit. A new Dillon 650 is mounted next to my 550. Start with more space than you think you need. My bench is a bit small now with three presses, powder measure, scale, brass trimmer, etc. Take a look at the Gracey trimmer. Pricey but worth the money. http://www.matchprep.com/trimmer.htm
    I attached a small light to the frame of my Dillons that shines straight down into the cases and it works pretty good since light can be blocked from above by the press. Check out the Dillon case trimmer that attaches to your press. Once you get into it with all the calibers you stated you are going to have tons of different powders, primers, dies, etc. Your going to need plenty of storage space. Keep good notes from your load development. My 6 and 9 year olds love to help me reload, i usually only let them load for moms gun though..LOL. Seriously though, I do let my 6 year old son reload some, with CLOSE supervision. Once you really get into it i'm pretty sure your going to want a case feeder and possibly a bullet feeder. You can't have too many manuals, and reference each one.
    "...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them." -Thomas Paine

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