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Thread: Reloading bench....I need ideas/advice

  1. #1
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default Reloading bench....I need ideas/advice

    Ok, I FINALLY got a bench built that I can dedicate to reloading . Now I need some advice on how to set it up to be efficient.

    The bench is 8' long and the surface is 3 - 2x12s which end up being roughly 33" deep. I left a 3" overhang on the front and one side so I can clamp various things to the bench if needed. Shelves above will be coming in short order after I hang some sheetrock.

    I have 3 presses and I was thinking of setting at least two of them up by bolting them down to the bench so I can save changing dies. I have enough room to put all three up without being crowded but I don't know if that would be overkill or if the third would be useful.

    Any ideas or advice on how to lay this thing out?
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    I have always wanted to cut a hole in my bench so I could insert plywood in the same shape, and have all my stuff mounted to the inserts. This way I could change presses and still have one work station. I have 3 presses and a powder dispenser mounted around my bench now, I move from one station to the next. It works but takes more space than I would like.

    With the insert thing I could buy more presses and keep my cheep Lee turret presses set up then switch them out to load deferent rounds. I first had the thought when I saw the Craftsman tool station thing, same thing just beefed up to hold a press. Other than that the best tip I have is to make it so you can change it around a couple times and you will want the press to your strong side.

    Andy

  3. #3

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    A reloading buddy of mine (whelenator on this forum) told me if you tighten the screw on the die locking ring once it's set in the press and remove the die without moving the locking ring you won't have to adjust the ring next time you thread it into the press. Hopefully that makes sense. With all of my dies set and ready to rock the only thing I have to do is thread the dies into the press and adjust is the plunger on the seating die accordingly. Once the bullets are seated I then remove the plunger and re-adjust for crimping if need be. This makes threading dies into the press a synch.

    I'll add a pic of my bench, that might give you some good ideas eventhough I only have a turret press. This setup works for me, but keep in mind I'm left handed and sometimes placement of the equipment is opposite for other people.

    Oh and btw if you want some 223 brass let me know, I HAVE TONS OF IT I tumbled all of it too.


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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    The locking ring works great as long as you put it back in the same press next time, my trouble is I have more than one press. On top of that I find myself readjusting from 38 to 357 or 45 to 454 to 460.
    With the cheep Lee turret press I hope to overcome all this adjusting.

    Andy

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKmud View Post
    Ok, I FINALLY got a bench built that I can dedicate to reloading . Now I need some advice on how to set it up to be efficient.

    The bench is 8' long and the surface is 3 - 2x12s which end up being roughly 33" deep. I left a 3" overhang on the front and one side so I can clamp various things to the bench if needed. Shelves above will be coming in short order after I hang some sheetrock.

    I have 3 presses and I was thinking of setting at least two of them up by bolting them down to the bench so I can save changing dies. I have enough room to put all three up without being crowded but I don't know if that would be overkill or if the third would be useful.

    Any ideas or advice on how to lay this thing out?
    Hate to tell you this, but I've never had good luck with 2x12's for reloading bench tops. by the time you have an overhang and start drilling a bunch of holes in it, you're going to get splits sooner or later due to the torque involved in pulling down on press arms. My solution is not too late for you. Top that bench with 3/4" plywood before you do anything else. I'd even go so far as tying the two together along the front edge with a trim strip.

    I built mine with extra measures. You could still do the same if you were so inclined. Mine is actually topped with 3 layers of 3/4" plywood. The middle one has 12" x 12" holes cut in it every 2', then the top layer has 9" x 9" holes cut right over the top of the 12" holes to form a hole with an 1 1/2" lip all around. Next I used the pieces I cut out to assemble blocks that slide from the front right back into the holes, plus made up extras. Slide a bare block into the hole and you have an open bare counter top. Mount your presses and everything else on other blocks, and you can slide them in and out as needed, rearranging your bench any way you want.

    I use my 20' bench for everything else in addition to reloading: gunsmithing, fly tying, rod building, leather working, basic carpentry, gun cleaning, and yeah, laying crap. Actually, it's so covered with stuff right now that I can't use it till I clean it up, or else I'd take some pictures for you. We have a big house with lots of room, but still don't have enough that I can have separate work benches for each job. Having the reloading gear on those blocks along with blank blocks to return it to a bare benchtop has worked out really well. Just be sure to use lots of screws and glue around each hole to really lock down the lips. Been using it that way for almost 25 years now.

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    BrownBear has some good pointers for you there and I tend to agree. I don’t think you are way off base with your bench, but if it was me, I would go out and buy 6 tubes of construction cement and two full sheets of ¾” plywood. I used oak because I wanted something attractive and functional, but it was rather spendy. Cut your plywood to length and then glue and screw it to the 2x12’s, this will give you a lot stiffer bench.

    The bench that I have my presses mounted on is made from 4x4’s with two layers of ¾” plywood on top. Where the presses attach, there is an additional section of ¾” plywood and a steel plate under the bench top. Even with all that plywood, the bench top still has a fair amount of flex when resizing big cases, but I have found that it is the bullet sizers (if you plan on doing cast bullets) that put the most stress on the bench because you are exerting a lot of force on both the down and upstroke. I can actually pick the legs of the bench off the ground when pushing linotype bullets up out of the sizer die……..

    My side bench is mostly a storage and work bench set up, so it is just one thickness of ¾” plywood over the top of some cabinets.

    I finished mine with some stain and several coats of clear gloss polyurethane and it has stood up really well over the years and is easy to clean with simple green or whatever you have laying around.
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    Good points. My top layer is actually T&G oak, but even a total of 3 layers allows some flex with big jobs. Finish is tunge oil, and it's held up for over 20 years.

    And I'm not kidding about splitting 2x12's while your at it!!! My bench is fully anchored to the wall and floor. I'm yet to see a free standing bench that would sit still for reloading.

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    3/4" plyood over the top of the 2x12's seems to do the trick. Make the legs of 4x4's and the stretchers of 2x12's as well. Bolt the framing together with carriage bolts, not lag screws. You can also use framing anchors at the major stress points. Screw AND glue the plywood over the top. Verathane works for a durable, long lasting finish. Sand all the sharp edges so you don't pick up slivers down the road. Generally, if you're right handed, set your equipment up to work from left to right. Leave adequate space next to each piece for one or possibly two loading trays. If you have the space, give yourself some free space. Cramped benches are easy to clutter. I guess big ones are too. We tend to accumulate too much stuff. Did I say that? The bottom line is you can't over build it, you can only UNDER build it. Good luck! GUNBUGS

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    I made mine four years ago when I moved in to this nice big 2 3/4 car garage (my wife gets the house). I used four 2x8's for my top framing, this makes it 30" deep, then put a piece of birchtop 3/4" plywood on top, 8' long. This a fancy smooth piece of plywood I think for cabinets and makes a nice top. There is about 3" or over hang but very little fles. It is glued and scred down with those 3" super deck screws and the framing is held with these screws and lag bolts. It don't wiggle.

    I have shelves up the back on the right side for dies and stuff and the left side has a 4"x4" piece of pegboard framed in for hanging scope mounting and smithing tools etc. This back piece is a 4x8 sheet of 1/2" plywood and the shelves are 1x10's. I have my T-7 press mounted on the right front corner and my big boss II press mounted about in the left middle and a big vice mounted at the left front corner. The left side also serves as a gun cleaning and smithing side. Most loading takes place on the right half.

    Here's pic that show some of my clutter, it has been rearranged and better layed out since this pic. No the shelf isn't sagging form the weight of the dies, it is distortion from the wide angle camera lense.

    This bench has lots of framing lumber, it weighs about 500 pounds. It has about 500 pounds of bullets sitting on it. Bullets are stacked the full eight foot length across the back. It is not anchored to the wall, I can lower the press handle and stand on it, it will not wiggle.
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    Default Reloading bench

    A couple of tricks I've learned from living in a bunch of houses is to put some shelf brackets on the wall and have the back edge of the bench jam in under the bottom edge of the brackets to prevent the back from tipping up when you put pressure on the front with the press. You can put some shelves on the brackets and put your scale and other items on the shelves. This works great if you set up in the spare bedroom inside the house and you don't need a massive bench.

    I use a RCBS A2 press and it has enough leverage that I can mount the press to the bench with a couple of deep throated C clamps. I can do about anything with this arrangement except perhaps readically form cases or swage bullets.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    I made mine four years ago when I moved in to this nice big 2 3/4 car garage (my wife gets the house).
    What's that blue latice on the front of your bench, Murphy? It looks interesting.

    With a bench that heavy and all the bullets on it, I can see why it won't move. Mine's built in so not a worry, but I've got alternating cabinets, drawers, and knee spaces full length under mine. On 8' of the left wall is a unit of floor to ceiling cabinets. Behind me and within arm's reach are two stacked chests of drawers, 16 drawers in all. And dang it, there's still a bunch of stuff that won't fit. Not all reloading as I noted in my first response, but when a guy doesn't have a big garage he can take over, all the outdoor gear sure eats up space in the house. How I envy your garage!

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Well one thing is for dang sure….. much like the old adage “every man spends to his means” I think the same can be said about space…. Give two guys a garage, one that is 300 Square feet and the other 1200 Square feet. Come back in one year and they will both be full!

    Face it, were just like gold fish! Give me a bigger tank and I will grow to fill it!

    For some of us the only hope may be to move into some abandoned blimp hangar…… and yes, I can read your thoughts…..”Ha, I’ll put in an indoor 100 yard shooting range, bar, brothel, butcher shop, basketball court, baseball diamond, brewery etc. and still have room………

    Fact is, it just cant be contained……… kill everybody except Murphy or Brownbear and I promise that within a decade they will have spread like a virus and deposited gun stuff all about the face of the earth!
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Default Murphy's Reloading bench or Midway's warehouse?

    Seriously though, nice setup and I do realize this is only just a taste of what is probably in your garage! We are finally in our own house. Don’t have to worry about military housing or renting anymore and am not moving ever again so I’m finally able to do what I want. I have more or less the whole finished basement. Only have one 8 foot bench so far bolted to the wall studs. One idea I have picked up here that I liked was the 2 x 8's underneath the plywood. All I have is the ¾ inch plywood right now. Seems to hold well so far and always has but since I’m not having to take this down any more, the bigger the better. (and a REALLY good reason to go to SBS!)

    I have the same plywood as you Murphy. Pretty easy to get blems here in Anchorage, just call up Hardware specialties in south Anchorage. I picked up a couple full 3/4 inch sheets for less than just regular stuff at one of the box stores. They usually have 4 or more off to the side that they dinged up a corner unloading it.

    One other thing I do is I keep all powder and primers in a separate locker away from the bench. Only one thing comes out at a time so I have no chance of confusing powders or primers. Just one of my own safety measures I impose on myself. I am right handed and employ the left to right pattern on the bench. I have a Dillon 650 set up on the far left, it pretty much takes care of itself. Some space and then the powder measure, some space and a single stage press. The second “half” of the bench is pretty much open to put finished stuff on, sort brass or anything like that. Lately it’s been used as a gun bench but I don’t like crowding to much so this long weekend will more than likely see the bench multiply….

    One thing I have not seen mention here yet is lighting. I have a total of 4 shop type lights lining from one end of the bench to the other. I can never have too much light. Just don’t overload your circuit’s. If in doubt always call an electrician. These type of lights are very inexpensive, lots of times less than $10.00 a set at a box store.

    Lastly I want to bring up is bench height. I have a few bar stools that I use to figure out height. Most things I stand for but sorting through a few hundred or thousand pieces of brass or knocking out a bunch of pistol rounds with the 650 makes sitting very appealing. Just make sure the bench is at a good working height for you and you don’t end up with something you can’t reach comfortably while sitting or knocking yourself pulling a handle because when you’re sitting it’s not at a good level for you. To low or to high can really be a pain in the long run (litreraly)!.

    That’s about it for now, Keep the ideas coming. Already planning this weekends project!

    Will

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    What's that blue latice on the front of your bench, Murphy? It looks interesting.

    With a bench that heavy and all the bullets on it, I can see why it won't move. Mine's built in so not a worry, but I've got alternating cabinets, drawers, and knee spaces full length under mine. On 8' of the left wall is a unit of floor to ceiling cabinets. Behind me and within arm's reach are two stacked chests of drawers, 16 drawers in all. And dang it, there's still a bunch of stuff that won't fit. Not all reloading as I noted in my first response, but when a guy doesn't have a big garage he can take over, all the outdoor gear sure eats up space in the house. How I envy your garage!
    Oh, it is a heavy bench. My lattice work is the plastic tracks that came with the little plastic storage tubs, designed to hang them on the wall. I just fastened them to the front of the bench. I use the small tubs, about 4"x4" and clip them on the tracks and as I cycle a case thtough the various stages, sizing, expanding, priming, seating, crimping, I just drop them in the tubs. This speeds up the operation a lot and is less tiring than reaching so much. It seems like a small thing but it works. I used to work as a manufacturing engineer and did time and motion studies on the electronics assembly to get the most efficient and lowest fatigue operation we could. It works well for me. I have a full shelf under the bench and it is full of bags of brass and loaded ammo and lots of other stuff. Plenty of weight.

    We were very fortunate to find this house after looking at many. The garage is heated and about 800 square feet. A funny story comes with it. It was offered for sale by owner and I came to look at it when my wife was at work. I had been in the garage talking with the owner/builder for about an hour when the wife called my cell. I told her we just bought a house. She said; Don't you think I should look at it first. I said; You can see it when we move in. She asked, well, what does the kitchen look like. I said; I don't know I haven't been in the house yet, I'm still in the garage. The owner had a chuckle, the wife dropped the phone, took off work early and came over in a hurry.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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