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Reloading Bench

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WillH
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Post by Gonzocm89 Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:28 pm

Looking for a dedicated reloading bench. I can’t seem to find any manufactured purpose built furniture for it.

Is a reloading bench just a simple work bench that has been modified for the task and organization of components and tools?

Any suggestions would be helpful.

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Post by Wobbley Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:50 pm

It depends on how YOU like to work.  There are “Reloading bench “ plans out there that are, IMO, way too elaborate.  They also require the skills of a furniture maker.  

Your space available will dictate what your bench looks like.  If you have a spare bedroom that would be ideal.  Or in warmer areas you can use a garage.  In any event, I would look at one of these:  
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-6-ft-Adjustable-Height-Solid-Wood-Top-Workbench-in-Black-for-Heavy-Duty-Welded-Steel-Garage-Storage-System-HTC1000004/306659735

I’d also place it in the middle of the space so that you can access all sides.  Mount two or three loading machines.  Then add closable cabinets around the periphery of the space or wall mounted shelves to store ammo and components.   They get heavy, so make sure the shelves aren’t overly deep.
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Post by SingleActionAndrew Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:09 pm

I love the Husky benches at Home depot that Wobbley linked. I use the ones with adjustable height bench and wheels - it's still extremely solid. The bench top cuts well with drill and reciprocating (jig) saw. I have inline fabrication and Dillon ultramount on mine, Redding T7 and Dillon 750XL plus multiple toolhead stands and a ChargeMaster. Going to buy another, separate one for the FX120i auto trickler
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Post by NukeMMC Wed Jun 22, 2022 7:19 pm

I have a couple of these:
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-45-in-W-x-36-in-H-3-Drawer-Hardwood-Work-Bench/1002624252
Replace the MDF surface with butcher block and use steel plate to back the wood when mounting a press (like any other table) and it works great.
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Post by RoyDean Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:51 pm

1. It needs to be HEAVY and SOLID. Buy a lot of lead bullets and store them in convenient sized plastic bins on the bottom shelf to add weight low down.

2. If it will not be a problem later (e.g. if you are in rented accommodation and will have to pay to make good any wall damage), lag bolt the bench to the wall studs with a suitable thickness spacer between leg and wall.

3. Harbour Freight offer great value benches (and other things), but they are just not sturdy and heavy enough without doing a lot of customisation. 

4. The heavy purpose built benches mentioned by Wobbley and NukeMMC are a quick and easy solution. If you have some basic woodworking skills (and especially if you have access to a tablesaw and planer - and also if you have "free" spare time) you can build a very solid bench to exactly fit your available space for a bit less than the ready made units - BUT, with current lumber prices, not a lot less!

5. I like to load whilst standing and be able to "look down" into the mouth of the case as it passes an empty station (Station 3 on my Dillons). 36" bench top with Inline Fabrication (all of their stuff is excellent) 7 1/2" risers works perfectly for me (5' 9").

6. Whether you buy or build, add a kick board "skirt" around the bottom of the bench - you will drop bullets, etc., etc., and they will ALWAYS roll to the worst spot - that is Somebody's Law and it is irrefutable!

7. Add lots of lighting - everywhere. And lots of shelves - once you have figured everything out.

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Post by JIMPGOV Wed Jun 22, 2022 11:19 pm

COSTCO
https://www.costco.com/CatalogSearch?dept=All&keyword=WORK+BENCH

SAMS CLUB
https://www.samsclub.com/s/work%20bench

I PERSONALLY USE THE FIRST 1 ON THE SAMS PAGE. SEVERAL OF MY FRIENDS USE THE FIRST OR 2ND ON THE SAMS PAGE. I REALLY THINK THESE ARE THE WAY TO GO. JP

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Post by BE Mike Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:15 am

If you are ever going to use a progressive press, you need a heavy/ solid workbench. A full shelf underneath is a must. You need shelves on top or a pegboard wall to put accessories. I think that building one from scratch is the way to go. If you don't have the skills/ tools to do it, see if you can find a buddy/ relative to help. There are multiple ideas available if you Google: Plans for a reloading bench. I like this one: http://accurateshooter.net/Blog/benchnrma.pdf Here's mine. It is quite messy, but you get the idea. It is secured to the wall with screws.
Reloading Bench RQ7rZ0T
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Post by javaduke Thu Jun 23, 2022 11:01 am

I use this bench from Harbor Freight and I really like it: https://www.harborfreight.com/60-in-three-drawer-hardwood-workbench-58832.html?_br_psugg_q=work+bench+with+drawers
I put all my ammo and other stuff on the shelf underneath and it made the whole bench really heavy and sturdy.

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Post by Gonzocm89 Thu Jun 23, 2022 5:28 pm

Wow this really blew up quick! Thanks for all the good input. I am in the military and move around a lot so it will have to be something easily moved from place to place so the harbor freight woodworking bench and things like it (I do like the work bench with the peg board and butcher block idea) are attractive options for me.

I load on a Dillon 550 preferably indoors, my garage easily gets as hot as an oven so that’s not happening. My current setup is on an old coffee table from Walmart I was going to throw away years ago….. that poor poor coffee table. Honestly any of these options would be an extremely good upgrade.

Also I haven’t seen this one mentioned and I am curious if there is a reason why?
https://www.harborfreight.com/tool-storage-organization/workbenches/48-in-workbench-with-light-60723.html

Of course as with anything harbor freight: needs to be strengthened and that beaver board (maybe mdf?) on top needs replacement with some butcher block or something sturdy.

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Post by john bickar Thu Jun 23, 2022 6:18 pm

The NRMA bench is awesome but definitely not for someone who is planning on moving, ever. I seem to recall I spent about 100 hours building mine.
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Post by WesG Thu Jun 23, 2022 8:13 pm

A 3/4" top? Seriously?

Mine is 2-1/4", 3 layers of plywood 32" deep. The 16" cutoffs get sandwiched down the middle.

And ... BTW ... I moved it ... 'no problemo'. The top is held on by 'cleats' underneath, so a bit of wrenching pulling the screws and it can be lifted off. Well ... it can be slid to the end and set down on blocks one end at a time. If you have the room.

Actually, I moved it twice. First time into the 'room' behind the wall, thru the door on the left. That required help. Well, I got help. But it was more or less completely 'breakable down' at that point. I glued up the end frames and finished it after getting it into the 'wine' (whiskey) cellar. The 2nd time it came out to go in a U-Haul to TX. Top, front and back rails, and ends. No help on that, but I almost lost the top off the handcart getting it in the van. Good thing I'm big and strong ... err, I mean old and dumb.

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Post by Wobbley Thu Jun 23, 2022 10:28 pm

If you’re  in the military and move often, then I’d look at a Black and Decker workmate. 

https://www.amazon.com/BLACK-DECKER-WM225-Portable-Project/dp/B00PTX62XW/ref=asc_df_B00PTX62XW/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312003160272&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6029936429856506087&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=t&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9061211&hvtargid=pla-434481246185&psc=1

Get 2 pieces of  2x2 3/4 Exterior plywood and glue them together so you have 1-1/2 thick top. Glue and Screw a 1-1/2 foot piece of 2x2 to the bottom so it can be claimed into the workmate.  Add a couple of 50 cal cans filled with sand hanging on hooks from the 2x2 to add stability.  When you move dump the sand and it won’t take any space or weight at all.
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Post by WesG Thu Jun 23, 2022 10:34 pm

Smarter than me ...

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Post by RoyDean Thu Jun 23, 2022 10:55 pm

OK. So. "haven’t seen this one mentioned and I am curious if there is a reason why?
https://www.harborfreight.com/tool-storage-organization/workbenches/48-in-workbench-with-light-60723.html"

I own two of these, hence my earlier comment about HF benches! They are made up of numerous pieces of somewhat flimsy pressed steel angle, with dozens of small fasteners, quite tedious to assemble, but surprisingly sturdy once properly assembled. The "Bench top" is 3/16"ish tempered MDF. Simply not sturdy enough to bolt a press onto, but could work with a thickish plywood offcut (or, even better two pieces top and under) bolted through to spread the load. A 1 1/4" thick butcher block would be even better, but they cost about $100 new. But then you could flip the MDF top in place of the hardboard pegboard back, that is really flimsy, using the MDF would nicely strengthen up that back and light housing. Easy to add a couple of braces to stop it wobbling, then you can stack stuff safely on top. The included light is not bright enough, I have replaced them. The drawers are nicely made, but problematic if you mount a loader which is bound to interfere. I use mine in my garage workshop, but added plywood drawer boxes below to really stiffen up the structure. I would advise bolting these benches to wall studs if possible. They are good value, but the other benches from HD/Lowe's are an easier/better solution, IMHO.

JavaDuke is happy with his HF Woodworkers bench, but, IMHO, that is also not sturdy enough without quite a lot of additional bracing and weight low down. It is good value, same volume of planed lumber would cost more, but also not ideal.

If you have the time and inclination, and especially if you can scrounge some scrap dimensional lumber from a home site, it is quite easy to plane and glue up sturdy bench tops from 2x6. Doubled or even tripled 2x6 or whatever can make really sturdy legs. Many Community Colleges and similar places have wood shops that you can use almost for free to true and plane rough lumber then borrow clamps to glue up components. But. All of that takes time and energy. I have done it several times, and enjoyed the process, but looking back I would have been better served by spending that time dry-firing!

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Post by chiz1180 Thu Jun 23, 2022 11:22 pm

I would argue the “best” reloading bench is one tailored made to your exact needs (eg how many presses/bench mount tools, how many calibers you load, space you have available, relocation requirements, do you load sitting or standing,ect.) That said if you are buying some sort of bench buy something that is well made and sturdy and you will probably do well. Some things you can do to help mitigate a lighter in weight bench is to mount your press as close to any leg (or support member that is in line with the floor/mounting points) as the force applied to the press will go to a support rather than potentially deflecting the bench top. As mentioned a butcher block top (or countertop) works well for a work surface. Lots of different ways to approach this type of thing. If I was in your position I would find a few potential options (store bought or built) and make a pro/con table and see what meets your needs. What works in my loading process may not be relevant for yours.
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Post by farmboy Fri Jun 24, 2022 8:35 am

Many years ago a friend in the military that moved a lot; found an older heavier built night stand at a garage sale. It fit his Star with room for some component bins  and gave him some built in storage. He had to sit to reload but it was surprisingly sturdy and very portable. He would store it in a closet when not using.
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Post by RodJ Fri Jun 24, 2022 1:12 pm

I’ve read, without confirming, that fluorescent lights might interfere with digital scales. If that’s a concern, I think there’s a simple way to get led bulbs that will work in old school fluorescent fixtures.

Edit: I lag bolt my presses to a small 2x6 and then use c or f clamps to hold the board to the bench. Works for my hornady lnl AP and a pair of single stage rcbs rockchuckers.  This works for temporary set up and take down if you want to use the breakfast table or a small bench.

If you use a dry lube like One Shot you can get away with a (somewhat) less than rock solid piece of furniture.

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Post by WesG Fri Jun 24, 2022 1:56 pm

I don't think I ever had any trouble with fluorescent bulbs, but it could be scale dependent.

LED conversions are simple replacement, or rewiring the sockets direct to 120, depending on the fixture. I had to go that route on the ancient fixture in my parent's bathroom.

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Post by WillH Sat Jun 25, 2022 10:28 am

A while back my parents remodeled their kitchen and gave me the old cabinets which were in sections.  i removed the old counters and replaced with plywood. Real solid for press since it is attached to the wall. The cabinets and drawers are good for storage too.  I would imagine there are lots of used cabinets available for cheap since kitchen remodels are pretty common.  My first attempt at posting a picture so hope it works.


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Post by valbern67 Sat Jun 25, 2022 9:11 pm

Gonzocm89 wrote:Wow this really blew up quick! Thanks for all the good input. I am in the military and move around a lot so it will have to be something easily moved from place to place so the harbor freight woodworking bench and things like it (I do like the work bench with the peg board and butcher block idea) are attractive options for me.

I load on a Dillon 550 preferably indoors, my garage easily gets as hot as an oven so that’s not happening. My current setup is on an old coffee table from Walmart I was going to throw away years ago….. that poor poor coffee table. Honestly any of these options would be an extremely good upgrade.

Also I haven’t seen this one mentioned and I am curious if there is a reason why?
https://www.harborfreight.com/tool-storage-organization/workbenches/48-in-workbench-with-light-60723.html

Of course as with anything harbor freight: needs to be strengthened and that beaver board (maybe mdf?) on top needs replacement with some butcher block or something sturdy.

I actually have this bench set up in a spare room and it's doing quite well. I went from an entire room with a built in work table to a corner in the spare bedroom, so space is a premium. I have all the heavy stuff on the bottom shelf to weigh it down.

Val
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Post by ghtt782 Sun Jun 26, 2022 9:00 am

Gonzocm89 wrote:Looking for a dedicated reloading bench. I can’t seem to find any manufactured purpose built furniture for it.

Is a reloading bench just a simple work bench that has been modified for the task and organization of components and tools?

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Get on Craigslist and buy a used desk thats the right size/shape for your space. My last one was a corner desk 6' on each side for 12' of work space and only $25. Then buy some 3/4" plywood, cut to shape and put 2 layers on top for an extra 1.5" that wont flex. Glue and screw it on. Done. I usually get fancy and paint and polyurethane the top though... I think this should give you more flexibility to do it to your taste

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Post by BE Mike Sun Jun 26, 2022 10:01 am

Gonzocm89 wrote:
Also I haven’t seen this one mentioned and I am curious if there is a reason why?
https://www.harborfreight.com/tool-storage-organization/workbenches/48-in-workbench-with-light-60723.html

Of course as with anything harbor freight: needs to be strengthened and that beaver board (maybe mdf?) on top needs replacement with some butcher block or something sturdy.
You're right about reinforcing that bench. My reloading bench is 34" high. I'm average height, so if you are tall or short, the 34" height might not work well for you. I load with my Dillon 550 while sitting on a draftsman type stool. The 550 has no ""strong mount". I reload using my Dillon 650 while standing and it is on a "strong mount". The top of the bench has an overhang of a few inches. It not only gives me a good place to drill my mounting holes, but also gives me a place for my legs while sitting. Thank you for your service to our country!
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Post by Rich/WIS Sun Jun 26, 2022 12:10 pm

Started out 50 years ago with a wooden office desk, the kind made with real wood, not fancy particle board.  Top was about 1 1/4" thick.  Bolted my old Lyman Spartan through the top and the frame of the desk.  Added a sliding drawer in the knee well and it held my limited collection of loading gear.  Surface was 32" deep by 60" wide.  A piece of heavy cardboard served to protect if during casting. As a plus the same mounting bolt holes fit my Lyman 450.  Used this for about 30 years.  

When I retired from the Army in 91 we settled in WI and bought our first home and my man cave went into the basement.  About this time my son was getting into reloading and I scrounged a couple of smaller desks, also solid wood, and we set up a Lee Challenger on one and the Lyman 450 went on the other.  The newer desks worked but were in rough shape, but they did work and were free.

A few years later my son went to work for a company that would house kids taken from their families for various reasons. The building used had been office space and they had to clear it out.  He got me two heavy duty desks that used metal file drawers as legs and the tops were 1 1/4 thick MDF with formica tops.  Tops are 32" wide, one was 60" and the other 84" wide.  The old trashy wood desks went to the burn pile.  The 84" long holds a RCBS Rock Chucker in the middle, a Lyman T mag turret on one end and have room to clamp on the little Lee C press for a priming station on the other end.  A piece of heavy cardboard protects the formica when I cast. The shorter one gets the Lyman 450.  My original desk has retired from use as a loading bench and is now just a desk in my reloading room.

In 2018 moved from WI to Ky and got lucky, my benches, desk and storage cabinets/shelves fit comfortably in my man cave here. I'd post a pic but have never mastered that skill.

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Post by LenV Sun Jun 26, 2022 8:28 pm

A sheet of 3/4" AC plywood. A bunch of 2x4 2&better, a couple of 8" pine boards,  stain and a whole bunch of deck screws. No glue and no nails. I've moved my bench twice now and was able to completely disassemble and utilize everything again. On this move I really had to downsize. I went from a 12x14 room that I could use 3 walls down to a 10ft open wall and 8ft of the opposite. I ended up using the extra parts in the garage as a work bench. My old super functional bench was reduced to this very packed wall. And a bench of course. There were some holes that needed spackling when I moved. Not many more than I would of had if I covered it with pictures. Spackling is cheap.Reloading Bench 20220612Reloading Bench 20220613
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