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What material for reloading bench top?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Wayne02, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. Wayne02

    Wayne02 Well-Known Member

    I have a very heavy duty bench in my shop that I am going to use for the reloading bench. This bench is made out of large timbers and is extremely heavy and stable. It currently has a plywood top over the timbers and has been used for mechanic work up until now, and it is pretty chewed up.

    I would like to put a new top over the plywood before I bolt the press down and start using it for reloading. The bench is 72" x 28" so I would like a piece of material this size. I looked around the local box stores for damaged or returned pieces of kitchen counter top but have not found anything yet.

    Is there other materials that would be suited for a reloading bench top? Something that is smooth, easy to clean, and robust?

  2. EHCRain10

    EHCRain10 Well-Known Member

    Since you have timbers underneath of the table top, I would suggest MDF its cheap flat and very easy to work with. As long as your timbers are at least 2 inches thick you should be ok because the MDF will add some strength to the timbers.
  3. NorCalRanches

    NorCalRanches Well-Known Member

    I found a great deal on a couple bundles of Pergo laminate flooring. Some pattern that didn't match anything else the store had. Stuff is great. Tough, yet you can drill through it. Surprisingly chemical resistant. My only regret is I got a fairly dark color, a lighter color would be best.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Just get a sheet of cabinet grade birch plywood in any thickness. Even 1/4" would work if the current top is very sturdy.

    Glue it down on top of the old top, and slap on a couple of coats of clear bar top finish.

    The light birch color will make finding things and clean-up easy.

    Also, sometimes, you can find scraps of white or light colored Formica at a floor covering store that would make a great top covering. They sell them cheap if they are too small to do a complete counter-top with.


    USMCJG Member

    I use two layers of 3/4" plywood glued and nailed together as my bench top.
  6. delta5

    delta5 Well-Known Member

    What kind of wood do they use for butcher chopping blocks? Like the type that hangs out in front of the grills at the Waffle Houses...
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

  8. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Well-Known Member

    I'd highly recommend using a sheet of PVC, for the size you need it would run about $100. We use this material on equipment and machinery we make & sell for Industrial applications. It's incredibly tough, cleans up well, and is very nice looking. Can be cut and shaped with common woodworking tools. I use it for all my reloading mounting plates.....good stuff!



  9. Sport45

    Sport45 Well-Known Member

    I'd just put a fresh plywood top on it and start chewing it up again.

    Not really... I'd probably just mount the press and get to business. :)
  10. drivadesl

    drivadesl Active Member

    My current reloading bench uses a 3/8" plywood top over 2X6's for strength. It works fine, but if I had to do it over, I would consider a formica or corian top. The standard sized formica tops come pretty reasonable from HD precut, just need to find one that fits your benchtop. The advantage is smoothness, and easy clean up so no oils or solvents will soak in, and spilled powder would wipe/sweep up easily. Just something to consider.
  11. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Well-Known Member

    Get one sheet of 3/4 cabinet grade plywood. Cut the first piece to match the top and piece the bottom layer from the rest. Screw the bottom layer to the table then put the solid piece on top and glue them together with liquid nails. Let it set for 36 hours and you are good to go. Get some teak oil & rub it in for a good finish.
  12. NorCalRanches

    NorCalRanches Well-Known Member

    I guess if you are just using it for reloading another smooth (the cabinet grade mentioned above) piece of plywood is fine. But I do gun cleaning/repair all on the same bench. The toughness and easy clean up of the laminated flooring is really nice. I was looking for formica but all the pieces in the 'reject' (or as I like to call it, the 'bargain') bin were too small.
  13. Winston_Smith

    Winston_Smith Well-Known Member

  14. pbratton

    pbratton Well-Known Member

    I found a place in town that had stacks of 8' laminated office doors that were taken out of office buildings during demo.

    It's a GREAT surface.
  15. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Well-Known Member

    For various heavy Work Benches, I usually use a Solid Core Wood Weneer or Masonite Veneer Door ( ie: Exterior grade/weight/thickness, solid-core, 'flat' - no panels )...Commercial or Residential Door.

    Miss-Bores ( Door Knob/Lock location to wrong spec) can usually be had very cheap ( 5 or 10 bucks ) from Commercial Door Shops.

    Add any edging one wishes...if one wishes.

    Re-Loading Bench wise, haven't finished mine yet...but, I plan to cover the Working surface with Wool Felt.
  16. Drail

    Drail Well-Known Member

    I have always used ribbed rubber matting so things don't roll of the bench but spills can be cleaned up easily. It also keeps glare from overhead lighting from making your eyes tired.
  17. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    Another thing to consider are the back and side edges.

    If you use plastic, aluminum or even wood, leaving about 1" sticking up above the surface will prevent those "aw crap", there goes another primer/bullet/case/nut bolt/tool on the floor beind the bench.
  18. crawfobj

    crawfobj Well-Known Member

    I used a solid core door for mine. When it gets too scuffed, I'll resurface it with a sheet of formica. HEAVY and very sturdy...
  19. Hesenwine

    Hesenwine Well-Known Member

    I topped mine with that brown (Maonite? Fiberboard?) 1/4" stuff. It's very smooth on one side and rough on the other so it glues down really well and is almost indestructible. Cleans up easily and is not expensive. Underneath is 2 layers of 3/4" plywood glued/screwed together.
  20. Hey_Allen

    Hey_Allen Well-Known Member

    I ended up with a 'reject' formica counter top from a local home improvement warehouse store.
    To support it, I built a frame out of a couple of 4x4's on end, with 2x4's boxing it together, and some 3/4" ply strips across it's depth to allow me to glue the top down.

    It's surprisingly sturdy, and still light enough that it can be moved with a person on either end, even though it ended up over 6' long.

    If you find one that was for a kitchen counter, they usually have a round-over front lip, as well as a 3-4" back board built in, which takes care of small bits trying to roll off the back.

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