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Steel Reloading Bench Facts or Myths...

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by sirgilligan, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. sirgilligan

    sirgilligan Well-Known Member

    I have heard two things mentioned about using a steel table for a reloading bench.

    1. Steel can be a conduit for a static electricity spark and is too dangerous around powders and primers.
    2. Steel's magnetic properties can adversely affect a mechanical scale used for powder measuring.
  2. thefish

    thefish Well-Known Member

    Not sure if myth or fact, but both points are true in theory and are valid points. Personally, I would stick with wood.
  3. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I reloaded on a steel office desk for decades and I'm still alive.

    Remember, your press is made of metal.
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Powder and primers take a HECK of a lot more to light off than a little static electricity.

    And I've never used a magnetic scale... :scrutiny:

    Both are old wives' tales.


    And yes, I did reload on a SOLID steel work bench for several years.
  5. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Well-Known Member

    a lot of popular reloading scales (505, 502, 10-10) are magnetically damped. i don't think a steel work bench will have an effect, but the magnetic field created by a fluorescent light fixture certainly will.
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If anything, the steel bench conducting static to ground would be safer then a non-conductive wood bench as all the static charge would stay in the powder handling equipment on a non-conductive surface.

    The scales magnetic dampening is achieved by the paddle on the beam moving through the magnetic fields produced by a pair of magnets in the metal scale base.
    It makes no difference what it is setting on.

  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Good point. However, I've still never used one. :)
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    In the past, I have used my RCBS magnetic dampened beam scales setting on top of a cast iron table saw table.

    No problems.

  9. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I have a steel bench, that has every outlet for case/bullet feeders, air compressor, drive motors and PLC's all welded to the bench and grounded from the wall of the house. Other than the fact is is much more stable, it's the same as my old wood bench.


  10. Owen

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

    Static electricity builds up on materials that are not conductive. Using a steel bench decreases the likelihood of a static electricity discharge.

    As far as the scale goes, it would require a varying magnetic field to affect the scale.
  11. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Well-Known Member

    I remember reading in one of my reloading manuals that if your mechanical scale is having problems reading consistently, that one trick to try is leaving it perfectly zeroed then start moving things around on your bench, and look for the scale to vary....apparently large metallic objects in close proximity to the scale can affect the accuracy of the scale somehow...I will look for that page and try and find what manual it was in and if it gave any explanation.

    I will say that I have an RCBS 1010 within a foot of my press, sitting on a metal framed bench with a wood top, and have never noticed any deviancy in accuracy.
  12. Potatohead

    Potatohead Well-Known Member

    Nice setup Jmorris. Whatcha got in all the little cubicles against the wall? Just various screws and such?
  13. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Well-Known Member

    I've used a steel reloading bench for 40 years with no problems.
  14. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    The 4 that are open have Grade 5 coarse and fine thread nuts and bolts, grade 8 fine and metric. The other bins have all of the other stuff that stops you dead in your tracks when are trying to work on something.
  15. sirgilligan

    sirgilligan Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your replies.

    A friend has been gathering materials to make me an aluminum work bench when he discovered that his welder will not do aluminum. So, we want to take the aluminum and make shelves and bolt them to a steel frame.

    I am not a welder or machinist, but he said something about his wire welder wouldn't work. I am not worried about it. He is doing this as a favor to me for all the tech support I give him to run his business. Windows 8 gives him fits.

    Thanks again, and please continue the discussion if someone has more to add.
  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Aluminum can be welded with a wire feed welder but it depends on the alloy of the aluminum and the wire feed welder needs to be one with shielding gas.

    That is a simplified answer though.
  17. Weber

    Weber Well-Known Member

    I use a SS covered wood bench top.

    No problems for me.
  18. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    If he said it wouldn't work, I would just leave it at that. MIG welding aluminum is different than steel. When you say MIG that would leave a welder to assume you are using an inert shielding gas (inert being the "I" in MIG). FCAW would be the correct terminology if you are wire welding without gas; however, many use "MIG" regardless of the method. Kind of like people say "clip" when they mean magazine.

    As a process the main differences between steel and aluminum are that you have to swap out the filler (wire) from steel to an alloy of aluminum and you change the inert gas from the mix that is used for steel to pure argon.

    I also use different liners for steel and aluminum but it's not a "have to". Some "cheap" machines will also likely have inadequate wire feed speed and duty cycle to work with aluminum.

    In any case it is an entirely different learning curve than welding steel with a MIG.
  19. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I wouldn't personally be concerned about static electricity. I've heard one story, here actually, about a primer detonating due to static, but I think there may have been more to it.

    As for magnetic field interfering with a beam scale, I would consider that to be a viable concern. I base that on various magnetic fields that have played havoc from time to time with my beam scales.

    Personally, I would stick to a good solid wood table for for loading. I came across a 2" thick hard wood table about 5 yrs. ago, for free, which is always good.

  20. Grump

    Grump Well-Known Member

    Didn't Myth Busters or someone actually perform a test with static electricity and totally fail in trying to get smokeless powder to light up?

    I suspect that primers would be a bit easier to set off, and a LOT more spectacular even one at a time.

    If it ain't a flammable gas or liquid with a very low flash point, it's pretty hard to start a fire with commonly-encountered intensity of static discharge.

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