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Anywhere I can buy a sturdy, portable bench?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by SA Town, Jun 9, 2010.

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  1. SA Town

    SA Town Member

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    Having reignited my passion for reloading (OK, learning to reload :)) I find myself needing a portable reloading bench before I pursue this hobby any further. It would be a shame for me to buy all the right pieces of equipment and have nothing to mount them to.

    Before anyone gives me plans to build a bench myself, please realize that I am an idiot and learning to reload is already stretching my limitations. I'm strictly looking for something to buy a portable bench - preferably one bundled with an instruction manual full of both short paragraphs and colored pictures.

    Thanks.
     
  2. skipsan

    skipsan Member

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    A member on another forum posted pictures of his set-up which I believe was based on this:

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_null_?productId=1235425

    Not exactly portable once assembled, but the poster raved about it. I believe all of the big-box hardware stores sell a similar product. Its possible a bit of reinforcement might be required in strategic places to stiffen it up, but that wasn't mentioned.

    Before I found a permanent spot, my "bench" was based on a B&D foldable, steel, Workmate with a double-thick seperate top I made special. The top was clamped to the Workmate. The press (a Dillon) was mounted to an inch thick piece of plywood, which in-turn, was clamped to the top. Sounds a bit "jury-rigged" which it was, but it worked fine and took about five minutes to set up.
     
  3. Legionnaire
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  4. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    The B7D is a good choice, but as mentioned - buy some 3/4" plywood and double the thickness - glues and screwed - and you'll be good to go.

    When you want something more permanent, get the Gorilla Rack from Costco or Sam's and make the same top - lag bolted to wall studs, it isn't going anywhere and you'll have 8' of bench top to play with
     
  5. bds
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    bds Member

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    How about these options? You may need to reinforce as necessary (adding thicker top and/or reinforcing mount points perhaps) and adding heavier casters (Harbor Freight has cheap heavy casters). Price starts at $39. You can also checkout yard sales on the weekends to see if you can find other rolling carts or cabinet pieces you can mount casters to - http://www.walmart.com/ip/Rolling-O...00000003260370&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=7693610

    0072101570035_215X215.jpg 0085810800015_215X215.jpg 0064942325253_215X215.jpg MP10002114408_P255045_215X215.jpg
     
  6. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Northern Tool sells some extremely strong, welded steel work bench legs in a set for $25. All you do then is get some plywood for a top and a couple of 2x4's underneath to stiffen the plywood. RIGHT HERE

    • I recently bought a solid maple butcher block 4'x6' table (with restaurant legs) for $29 at my local "thrift store". The top alone is worth several hundred. (I didn't get a chance to convert it to a loading bench because....)

    • They were throwing away an industrial grade table at work with a black Formica over 1" thick plywood top, steel legs and bracing, all on small casters. Sure the steel is 1970's industrial green, but that just makes it match my RCBS gear!

    Point is this... look around. Deals are everywhere right now. With so many companies closing their doors, used work benches are easy to find.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  7. bds
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    bds Member

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    Here are computer carts as additional portable reloading bench options:

    0002998692013_215X215.jpg 0002998692003_215X215.jpg
     
  8. bds
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    bds Member

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  9. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    If you want it to roll around, make sure the casters lock both the wheel and the pivot. I used a Rockler heavy duty steel leg set for a router table, along with their HD casters, and it works great. I can roll it out of its corner in the laundry room when I need it, and roll it back when I'm done. I have easy access to all four sides of the top and shelves, so it works much bigger than it really is.

    68834-01-500.jpg

    Andy
     
  10. SA Town

    SA Town Member

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    Thanks guys for all the help so far! However, I have no idea how to replace, strengthen, or mount anything. Please remember my mental handicap :(
     
  11. bds
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    bds Member

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    SA Town, the Harbor Freight bench is 20"x17" and 30" high heavy duty bench with 1000 pound rating. I just called local HF and they have 6 in stock. I am actually on my way to check it out to replace my current 24"x36" portable 2x4 bench on casters.
     
  12. SA Town

    SA Town Member

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    Thanks sir. What would you say as far as their level of quality? Not that I have much (any?) room to complain. Otherwise the B&D seems to be the consensus here.

    EDIT: Instead of double posting, let me apologize for not contributing any suggestions in my own thread. What do you guys think of this? I am thinking about getting the Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret.

    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=155024#productTabReviews

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  13. bds
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    bds Member

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    I think the B&D Workmate would provide a very good platform (I had one years ago). You can use a piece of 2X6 to mount your press and clamp on and off the Workmate. Also, when you are not using your press, Workmate collapses flat for storage in the closet/hang from wall.

    I just returned from Harbor Freight with the bench. I looked at the demo bench at the store and the metal legs are 17 gauge and frame piece are 20 gauge. It is heavy duty enough for me. The top is 3/4" press board and the shelf boards are thin so no heavy storage. It should do well as a reloading bench if you reinforce/replace the top with heavier wood/plywood/OSB.

    For me, I will be building a castered base out of 2x4 and OSB so I can store bullets/powder boxes on the bottom and two layer OSB for the top.
     
  14. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    My vote is for the ArcStation from Miller Welding (mentioned HERE). They're heavy and too expensive for some, but they'll last forever and they're modular. They can be broken down and transported or extended as your needs grow. If I ever move house, I'll either buy a couple of the "C" models or build something similar. Given the cost of reloading components and equipment, the cost of a good, non-consumable bench is negligible.

    (A) 30S - 123 lbs, $352, 29"x29"x35" (LxWxH)
    (B) 30SX – 177 lbs, $460, 29"x29"x35" (LxWxH)
    (C) 60S – 230 lbs, $634, 29"x58"x35" (LxWxH)
    (D) 60SX – 318 lbs, $778, 29"x58"x35" (LxWxH)

    http://www.millerwelds.com/products/...ns/arcstation/

    [​IMG]

    :)
     
  15. harmonic

    harmonic member

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    I'm thinking maybe you should skip reloading altogether.
     
  16. jfh

    jfh Member

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    tell us a bit more about the constraints, SA Town.

    Do you have limited space for it, period? If that is so, consider the Fold-Up WorkMate idea.

    The limited-width issue for wall placement?

    As for your own contribution--e.g., the Midway pedestal--personally, I would find that too limiting--fine for the actual press, perhaps, but terrible for component layout and organization (not to mention supplemental hardware stuff, like a scale, etc.).

    And--if you really are without a modicum of sense for "workshop" activities, then harmonic's observation is not really irrelevant.

    Jim H.
     
  17. bds
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    bds Member

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    Hey, no problem ... we all started somewhere.

    Home Depot and Lowes both will cut lumber to size (Heck, check their waste bin in the back, you may find the right size 2x6 scrap for you to mount your press onto for the Workmate - probably 12-16 inches will work). If you take the press to the store, they can identify the proper size bolts, washers, nuts to mount your press to the 2x6 (I use nylon nuts so they don't come loose).

    They also host workshops/clinics several times a month (ask for their calendar) and you can sign up to practice particular skills you may need to brush up on. They will probably let you work on your reloading bench mount 2x6 to drill holes and tighten the bolts/nuts (our local Home Depots even have designated workshop area with tools). You may even find woodworking an enjoyable hobby along with reloading (It is for me).
     
  18. SA Town

    SA Town Member

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    Yes JFH, I have limited space for it - the size of the WorkMate would be preferable. It is something I would be taking from a patio closet and putting it inside my 499 sq. ft. apartment for use.

    I like the idea of the ArcStation that 1858 mentioned, but unfortunately, it is beyond my means of spending. I would probably need the $460 30S X Clamp version (do not have tools or knowledge for drilling holes for clamps, if that is what could even be used to begin with).

    As for harmonic's observation, he is probably right. It was probably a fantasy for someone like me to try to pursue reloading or benchmaking and might instead be best left to experts and journeymen. I guess I just wanted to give it a shot.

    Thanks BDS, I might try and get someone else to do it. I was thinking about asking any forum members here if they would like to undertake the project (I'd rather pay someone here on these forums who can do it very well than a company).

    Ironically, I used to work at Home Depot but left for my own lack of PK. Oddly enough, I even got them to put me outside as a lot loader because I've had trouble understanding home improvement. I only got the job there as a cashier and it was down the street from my High School I went to a few years ago. :)

    Either way, thanks to everyone who posted in this thread and I hope that for anyone else looking for a solution to their spacial issues might find it useful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  19. bds
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    bds Member

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  20. SA Town

    SA Town Member

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    MAN! I was looking up hand presses but I finally found some consistently good reviews about them on your Midway link! Apparently they are good for loading straight walled pistol cartridges (all I am doing).

    Do you recommend anything else to go with this? I was thinking I might also need (aside from dies)...

    1) A scale
    2) Calipers
    3) Powder measure (no idea where to start with this one)

    Is this enough? Or am I missing anything else? Thanks!
     
  21. scythefwd

    scythefwd Member

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    SA town - good start.

    I'd recommend , as bare minimum -
    1. press (hand press is a good one)
    2. scale (look on ebay, you can get a good beam scale at a decent price)
    3. powder dispenser (if you are only doing handguns, the lee dippers might be the way to go but you can find nice powder measures for a steal on ebay sometimes... I got my lyman #55 for 35 shipped to me in perfect condition)
    4. calipers
    5. Reloading manual
    6. powder funnel (especially if you are using dippers)

    Everything else is pretty nice to have, but not strictly required. #6 isn't either, but it sure is nice and cheap.
     
  22. bds
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    bds Member

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    Ooops, scythefwd and I posted at the same time. :D

    If you buy the hand press kit, powder funnel comes with the kit.

    - Reloading manual
    - Hand press kit
    - Scale
    - Caliper
    - Reloading tray (you can also use 50 round plastic trays factory bullets come in)
    - Dies (carbide pistol dies)
    - Hand priming tool (highly recommend it) - http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=807875
    - Shell holder for hand priming tool - http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=566058
    - Primer pocket cleaner - http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=467111
    - Chamfer tool (to take out military crimped primer pockets) - http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=389104
    - Powder dipper set instead of the powder measure - http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=943305
    - Case tumbler and media (you could wipe the cases down by hand if you don't do that many reloads)
    - Case
    - Bullets
    - Primers
    - Powder
     
  23. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    Go to Home Depot or Lowes and tell them what you want to do. My guess is they'll find you something.
     
  24. Ty 357

    Ty 357 Member

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    I picked up a portable computer desk for free that looks just like the one in post #8.


    0002998692003_215X215.jpg

    except mine has another shelf about midway down.

    I added an additional scrap piece of plywood to the top for reinforcement. I roll it into the middle of my basement when I reload and then roll back behind some other clutter to get it out of the way when I'm done.

    You can pick these up from goodwill all day long for super cheap. Or you'll find them a'plenty on craigslist, freecycle, etc. The only thing to be aware of is the effect on your balance beam scale. When you move a portable setup around be sure to check for level (and recalibrate) before you trust a beam scale. I like my setup for my situation. The nice robust bench will happen one of these days but this works great for a limited space.
     
  25. Eb1

    Eb1 Member

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    I use the Frankfort portable bench. Works great.
     
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