Another newbie question: Bench height?


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Legionnaire
March 18, 2006, 09:21 PM
I'm about to set to work building my first reloading bench. I'm going to start working on rifle ammo, with an eye toward precision. For this application, is it better to build the bench to stand or sit while I work?

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DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 18, 2006, 09:30 PM
Legionnaire,

Some of this depends entirely upon you and the type of reloading you're planning on doing on that bench. I've built several benches and just finished one today.

Here's a couple thoughts:

Build one you can sit on a auto parts shop stool and reload. I built mine 30 inches tall, then added an oak "strong mount" to elevate the prise to where the bins mounted to the press are level with my shoulder while sitting at a stool. (BTW, I have a Hornady Lock N Load progressive I use most.)

Build one you can carry through a stand house door without disassembling. 2 foot by three foot or so a good size.

Built it hefty, but don't spend tons on materials.

Particle board, overlaid with masonite (hardpaperboard, the brown stuff) makes for a good, durable, inexpensive top. Trim the sides with some 1 x 4 pine. Glue and screw together.

Use two by four studs for the legs and framing. You can make it stronger by double two studs for the legs and cutting dado joints in the boards so the horizontal cross support boards rest on the vertical leg boards.

Build a wall mount shelving unit out of pine. Use pegboard on the back of it to strengthen the middle of the shelves and to provide you a place to hang wrenches for dies. Make the bottom shelf big enough to hold your reloading manuals and books.

Build a shelf underneath your bench made of OSB to hold other stuff and as a place to store cartridges in GI ammo cans. Why? Because these add lots of weight to help you stabilize a smaller bench.

Bolt the legs and frame together, this makes for a bench that stays stable over time. Use washers and lock washers. The bolts should be the round headed type, can't remember the name.

BTW, I built my bench entirely out of scrapes left over from other projects. Total cost to me was $5.00 for bolts, screws and $5.00 for the pine boards to build the shelf out of the cutoff bin at Home Depot.

Hope this helps,

Regards,

Dave

The Bushmaster
March 18, 2006, 09:32 PM
Mine is in between a stand up and a sit down bench. I use a tall stool...No place for me to vote...

dav
March 18, 2006, 11:29 PM
Standing height is much more versatile. If you get tired of sitting, you can work standing. With the length of the throw arm on presses, you cannot work at a desk height bench while standing. If you have to get up to load the press with more powder, lots easier to slide down off of a stool than to get up out of a chair.

kart racer
March 19, 2006, 12:47 AM
I built mine where I could cut 96 inch 2x4's without waste,although my carpenter skills suck.For a bench top I used 2, 3/4 inch plywood sheets.With the 2x4's I doubled them up and bolted them together to make the legs.

whipper
March 19, 2006, 01:22 PM
Legionnaire,

I hope this works, this is my bench, and I got this from the NRA Handloading book Published January 1981. (Hope I do not get in trouble for copyright violation) :uhoh: My Dad built it for me about 15 years ago and it works great.:D The top is made of tong and grove 2 X 4ís and the draws hold a lot of weight, almost 80 pounds in each very sturdy.
37288

esheato
March 19, 2006, 02:06 PM
I usually stand when I load, but I purchased a bar stool and it allows for a pretty good seat too. No where for me to vote either.

Ed

WayneConrad
March 19, 2006, 02:11 PM
I think my bench is somewhere between sitting and standing. It's just right for sitting on a stool and pulling the press handle.

I used the "EAA Chapter 1000 Standardized Work Table" (my review here (http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=1550025); plans and instructions here (http://www.eaa1000.av.org/technicl/worktabl/worktabl.htm)). It's very sturdy (it's for building airplanes, after all) and easy to build.

Chawbaccer
March 19, 2006, 02:46 PM
I kind of like to lean on my stool more than sitting on it. I suggest you make one on the high side and then start lopping legs off a bit if you find it too high.

Legionnaire
March 19, 2006, 05:52 PM
Thanks for the feedback thus far. I like the idea of a slightly higher work surface with a stool. And Chawbaccer's idea of building one where the legs can be shortened make sense. At this point, I'm leaning toward the higher surface.

ATAShooter
March 19, 2006, 05:57 PM
My top is 36" tall. And I park my lazy carcass on a barstool.

scotty
March 19, 2006, 08:31 PM
For me, it depends.

When using the single stage press for low volume precision type loading, I prefer to sit on a bar stool. The bar stool is a few inches below bench height and puts the press at a very comfortable height.

When using the Dillon 550 mounted at the other end of the bench for volume loading, I prefer to stand. This makes it easier for me to keep an eye on what is going on at all the stations. The 550 is mounted on a Dillon strong mount which raises it above the bench just enough to make it comfortable to use while standing.

nvshooter
March 20, 2006, 01:14 AM
I use the old kitchen table and chairs my parents bought in 1964. So much history in that table. I remember many, many times my dad yelling his head off at me and backhanding me across the face for stupid things I did. How could I ever use a commercially-produced bench after all those happy times?

HSMITH
March 20, 2006, 07:47 AM
Sitting and running a press doesn't work for me, been there and done that.

My bench is 36" tall, lets me see what I am doing yet is at a comfortable height for me to operate the handles of the presses completely with just arm movement and without moving my body.

dtalley
March 20, 2006, 11:32 AM
I have an small old sturdy desk that I converted. I agree that sometimes it is diffecult to reload sitting down but then I used what I had (I'm cheap) and have been getting by just fine. I agree that more room would be nice. I also have a large wooden table behind my desk that I use some also during case prep and such. Here is a picture of my desk after I set it up. I have added some lighting and a few nails to hold stuff.

Ol` Joe
March 20, 2006, 12:17 PM
I made mine for standing but a bar stool serves me well as a seat when I want to sit.
Here is pic if interested....http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d149/1Savage/100_0549.jpg

MarkV
March 20, 2006, 01:22 PM
My table top is 36" tall. This was about 10 minutes after I built it so it's a little messier now. :)

http://www.mustangmods.com/ims/u/619/831/21183.jpg

Legionnaire
March 21, 2006, 12:03 AM
Thanks, all. "Bench height" wins! Just finished building my first reloading bench (literally put the tools away ten minutes ago). It's a 2x4 foot top, 36" high, based on the plans WayneConrad pointed me to. Thanks, Wayne! It has a 3/4" plywood top over a 2x4 frame, 2x4s doubled for the legs, and a secondary bottom shelf. Too late to take pics tonight, but I'll do so in the next couple of days.

Thanks again, guys. Your help is why THR is the greatest!

WayneConrad
March 21, 2006, 12:18 AM
You're welcome! You just made my day. I can't wait to see pictures!

OneFireStick
March 21, 2006, 08:08 PM
I built my bench from NRMA plans. The bench is at 40" for me at 6' tall which is waist high. It is at just the right height for standing or sitting on a tall barstool.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 21, 2006, 09:49 PM
That's a good, practical-szied bench that should have excellent structural integrity. Wayne, those are darn nice plans you provided links to. The only thing I would add is lots of bullets on the bottom shelf to add weight for stability when reloading.

Legionnaire,

Congrats on getting your bench together.

Regards,

Dave

WayneConrad
March 21, 2006, 11:09 PM
The only thing I would add is lots of bullets on the bottom shelf to add weight for stability when reloading.

And powder and brass and and and... :)

He'll fill up that shelf, I'm sure, but he won't need to for stability. You can stand on that bench and do the Hokie Pokie.

Ya know, all of us who've posted pictures of our new bench ought to start a new thread with "as built" and "a year later" pictures. The difference might be amusing. I keep adding shelves and other storage to my bench, and it keeps being full and needing more storage. It's kind of eerie.

And you are very, very welcome.

MarkV
March 22, 2006, 01:06 PM
Ya know, all of us who've posted pictures of our new bench ought to start a new thread with "as built" and "a year later" pictures. The difference might be amusing. I keep adding shelves and other storage to my bench, and it keeps being full and needing more storage. It's kind of eerie.


Ya I think it was the third day of reloading that I said I needed a bigger bench. :)

trickyasafox
March 22, 2006, 02:58 PM
i was watching gun talk and they recomended right at your belt buckle / navel for bench height. i like a high bench with a barstool myself :)

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 22, 2006, 04:58 PM
Wayne,

You may be right. My bench is built very similarly, except I cut lap joints in 4 X 4's and added additional cross bracing to the lower shelf. Mine is only 2' X 3' and I've got mine on carpet. It's solid as a rock, very strong, but isn't real heavy and the carpet can cause it to rock a bit until I put the cartridges on the lower shelf. After that, it had enough weight to sink down in the carpet.

I do agree your philosophy on benches change as you find out what you need. My original benches were 30" X 72" and weighed a ton (2" thick particle board shelving for a top reinforced by steel bars.).

I now have a 24" X 72" bench for processing brass, a 24" X 36" bench for my Hornady Lock N Load AP and I'm building another 24" X 36" bench for my Lee Classic Cast press and the Lee Classic Turret press I plan on buying.

Over the brass processing bench I have crude shelves built of metal brackets and 1/4" plywood. It works, but it's ugly. Over my Hornady bench I built a cabinet shelving unit that matched the bench. Looks much better. I plan on upgrading the brass processing bench for better appearance and to have a nice shelving unit in the future. I alsoI plan on having a nice shelving unit for my Lee bench I'm planning on building.

For me, a moving into the new house experience or two taught me a couple of smaller benches are easier to get through the doors without any assembly and make for a more organized work area with more room to move around in. I also found a shorter bench I can sit at a chair and make notes but that has a "strong mount" so I can sit at a stool or stand is the best of both worlds.

Regards,

Dave

WayneConrad
March 22, 2006, 05:27 PM
Dave, I hadn't thought of carpet. Sweetie and I are slowly banishing carpet from our house. The problem with carpet is when you're sliding down the hall in your stocking feet, and you hit carpet... well, it's just not good.

And the cats are so much funnier when they run on slick floors.

And now for even more thread drift. We've exchanged PM's about the progressive press I want to buy just as soon as I figure out how to pay for it. What is your opinion on how to make a progressive and a single-stage coeexist happily on the same 24"x60" bench? Right now, my single-stage is a foot from the right edge of my bench, but it can move. I also want to leave at least a few feet of the middle of the bench open... it's my gun cleaning bench as well, so I can't cover the whole front of it with presses. Any ideas?

Kramer Krazy
March 22, 2006, 06:29 PM
I didn't have a lot of room for mine, so I attached it to a special Snap-on tool chest/work bench that used to have some type of specialized equipment associated with it. I obtained it from an industrial plant that closed. Without being home to measure it, I'm guessing that it is mounted at about 45". It is a great standing height for me (6'1") and Missashot (near 5'11"). I just picked up two 8" shelving brackets from Home Depot and talked them out of a piece of their 2"x8" scrap from the saw area. I used existing holes in the side of the tool box, where a handle used to be mounted. The floor has also been done in tile, so I don't have to worry about losing any primers or getting a build-up of spilled powder, but I do have primers roll all over the place. I'm attaching a pic of it.

Legionnaire
March 24, 2006, 08:53 AM
My Midway order arrived yesterday! Still have a couple of things back ordered (tumbler, etc.), but received enough to set up the bench this weekend. Will make sure to take and post a picture or two.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 24, 2006, 10:50 AM
"We've exchanged PM's about the progressive press I want to buy just as soon as I figure out how to pay for it. What is your opinion on how to make a progressive and a single-stage coeexist happily on the same 24"x60" bench? Right now, my single-stage is a foot from the right edge of my bench, but it can move. I also want to leave at least a few feet of the middle of the bench open... it's my gun cleaning bench as well, so I can't cover the whole front of it with presses. Any ideas?"

This is an easy one. First, depending on the height you built your bench, you can build a "strong mount" for each press using hardwood (I used some scrap 3/4" oak I had.), glue and screws. You cut the base of the "strong mount" long enough to provide stability (about a foot and half) and you'll have enough length to clamp the press to the bench. Make the height of the strong mount tall enough so the linkage of the press ram clears the top of the bench or the floor when the press is removed from the table. Make the width wide enough to support the press, but narrow enough to clear the arm.

Construction notes:

1. Use butt joints (unless you have the machinery to cut dadoes, then use dado joints). It will be plenty strong enough with butt joints.
2. Drill holes and countersink so you don't split the wood and so the screws are out of the way. Looks better too.
3. Glue and screw top, bottom and sides together forming a box with the bottom forming an inverted T.
4. Using another piece of board, reinforce the back attaching it the same way, but cut an angle (on the support board) from the sides to the bottom to make it look more elegant.
5. Drill holes for bolt mounting in the bottom ends and the top (use the press as a template) for the press.

You can now bolt (Or clamp for quick removal. I prefer to bolt.) the two "strong mounts" to each each of your bench and have plenty of room to work. Be sure to leave some space from the sides and ends of the bench to place plastic Akro bins of brass and bullets. There should be enough space between the strong mounts for books, pens, assorted widjets. You now have removeable mounts that won't interfer with one another. If you use wide enough boards, you can actually mount two presses back to back, as I did when I had my Hornady LnL and a Lyman turret press mounted to a steel cart topped with oak plywood in my old apartment.

Hope this makes sense. IF it doesn't, pm me an email addy and I'll send you a picture. I am not known for posting pics online, though I don't object to others posting any they've received from me.

Regards,

Dave

WayneConrad
March 24, 2006, 11:31 AM
DaveInFloweryBranchGAHope this makes sense. IF it doesn't, pm me an email addy and I'll send you a picture. I am not known for posting pics online, though I don't object to others posting any they've received from me.

Pictures would be very welcome. If you don't mind, I'll put your description and pictures in a new thread... it deserves top billing. Thanks for all this! What is in the water that makes Georgians so danged hospitable?

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 24, 2006, 01:40 PM
Wayne,

The pics are on their way to you.

BTW, I'm not from Georgia originally, I'm from North Carolina in a small town where nobody locked their doors (and still don't). But that said, the Southeast is a warm and hospitable climate which tends to make folks warm and hospitable. A great place to live, though a bit crowded any more.

Regards,

Dave

Legionnaire
March 24, 2006, 09:57 PM
Don't have all my equipment yet, nor have I finished setting up what I do have ... but here are a couple of pics of the new bench. Thanks again, guys, for all the tips. Even have the old bar stool lined up!

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 24, 2006, 11:03 PM
Legionnaire,

That looks great, you did an excellent job.

Now ya need a shelving unit to store the stuff that'll soon magically breed.

Is that one of the new Lee Classic turret presses I see attached to that bench?

Regards,

Dave

WayneConrad
March 25, 2006, 12:24 AM
Legionnaire, Nice! That bench looks familiar :) Yours looks like better workmanship, though.

Legionnaire
March 25, 2006, 08:58 AM
Dave, yes, that's the new Lee Classic Turret. I plan to practice for a while using it like a single stage (i.e., disconnect the auto-indexing) so I can practice on each station until I get the hang of things. Appreciate the tip on the new Classic instead of one of the kits.

Wayne, thanks again for the plans, and the compliment. Would have been even better had I bothered with the table saw. Did all my cuts with a hand-hend circular saw. Your plans were similar to the ones I had on hand, but simpler. Put this one together in about three hours, including the trip to Home Depot. Materials were:

One 2'x4' sheet of 3/4" plywood for the top (pre cut)
One 2'x4' sheet of 1/2" plywood for the shelf (shortened to fit)
Seven 2x4s
Wood screws and glue

Next carpentry will be a shelf unit for the back of the bench, including a beg board panel for hanging tools and odds-n-ends.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 25, 2006, 09:59 AM
Will you guys do me a favor? After you've reloaded a month or so on your new benches, would you report back as to how the screws are holding up? I generally bolt my benches together for absolute ridgity, but I wouldn't mind cutting the bolts out because they add significant cost to the building of a bench I'd like to get rid of.

I'm planning on building another bench fairly soon and I'd like to see how those two benches hold up over time.

Legionaire,

Cool on the Lee Classic Turret. Did you buy the safety prime and Pro Auto Disk as well?

Regards,

Dave

Legionnaire
March 25, 2006, 01:36 PM
Dave, safety prime is backordered. I'm holding off on the auto disk until I decide to get into pistol cartridges.

Will report back on the bench. In my experience, though, wood glue and screws are usually more than adequate if a piece of cabinetry is designed properly.

WayneConrad
March 25, 2006, 02:29 PM
Dave, I've been using my bench for about a year. You could still dance the Hokey Pokie on it. I used enough TiteBond on it that I think you could remove all the screws without weakening it. The screws are really just clamps to hold things together while the wood glue dries.

Wood glue, drywall screws and the countersink drill bits made for 'em are easy and strong, even for a woodworking idgit like me.

spencerhut
March 25, 2006, 05:44 PM
I think my bench may be a different than some of you are used to. It's 45" tall (I'm 6'3") and made out of a 100+ year old 6"x18"x10' bridge timber. It sits on 6x4 posts and is never going anywhere. I guess I'm lucky to have a space where I don't have to move my bench around. The whole setup is only a few months old since I just got back into shooting after a 16 year break.

spencerhut
March 25, 2006, 05:50 PM
Here's a picture. The top is covered in the black rubber mesh since I took so much time to cover it in a full gallon of laquer.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 25, 2006, 06:31 PM
Legionnaire,

I was talking about the safety prime, not the auto prime. I wouldn't buy an auto prime two for a press. The Safety prime, a new product, uses a button like affair to load the primers. I'm not sure, but I don't think they're on backorder, but I may be wrong.

Wayne,

I guess I've just tend to over engineer (I used to be an engineer, till I got tired of corporate America and the politics.). I use the wood glue and screw method you're describing, but right at the end, I do have trouble resisting the urge to bolt. However, in my own defense, the last bench I built, I used some leftover treated 4 X 4's for the legs and even though they had long since dried out (And of course, warped so I had to joint them.), I still didn't trust them with glue. The next bench will be 100% 2 X 4 SYP (Common in this area, so inexpensive.) as far as legs and supports go.

spencerhut,

Nice looking bench there buddy and consider yourself extremely lucky not to have to move your bench ever. I would never dare dream of setting up such a bench.

Regards,

Dave

Legionnaire
March 25, 2006, 08:38 PM
Oops. Typo. I meant the safety prime. Corrected above.

spencerhut
March 26, 2006, 02:07 PM
Thanks Dave. A lot of thought went into it. My uncle that taught me everything I know about guns and reloading had a similar (but much shorter) reloading bench. You can envy my bench and I'll envy your states less restrictive gun laws. :)

Spencer

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