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Bench surface finish question?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Charlie1022, Dec 25, 2012.

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  1. Charlie1022

    Charlie1022 Member

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    I am getting ready to put a finish on the top of my reloading bench and after reviewing all of the pictures I am between some type of a white painted surface to reflect light or a clear varnish finish. Now bear in mind that the bench top material is the pressed wood counter top material and nothing fancy like a few members that have posted pictures of some really fancy hard wood tops. A few pictures show some type of a white surface finish and I am leaning towards the white color but not sure what type of paint or other options to use so it will last. Let me hear of your ideas.

    Thanks,
    Charlie1022
     
  2. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    I'd glue down some tough formica type stuff. Probably a light color.
     
  3. T Bran

    T Bran Member

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    On my next bench I plan on using truck bed liner and a roller. The stuff is pretty close to indestructable as well as being resistant to everything I've ever spilled on it.
     
  4. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    Mine is just unfinished 2x12's that make up a workbench top that totals about 18' long, the reloading bench is just part (an end) of the huge workbench I have. I like that bare wood (ordinary kiln-dried spruce framing lumber) as I write all kinds of notes on the bench wood itself with a pencil and the writing lasts until I either sand or erase it off.
     
  5. edfardos

    edfardos Member

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    I like the rhino-coat idea. A big slab of MDF is what I use.
     
  6. Etkini

    Etkini Member

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    I use 1/2" oak hardwood flooring on top of 1/2" plywood, with 1/2 inch MDF under the surface where the press is. Needless to say, it didn't flex when I stood and jumped on it. And I'd say that's pretty impressive considering it's a portable workbench and I'm a decent sized guy. Not only that, it's easy to keep clean even though I didn't put enough clear on it to fill the gaps.

    When I finally get back out of apartment life (the joys of jumping states with no real plans) I plan on making a bench top out of oak and maple, similar to what you'd see in a nice cutting board. I love the look of ornate wooden furniture and miss being able to make it.
     
  7. nstoolman1

    nstoolman1 Member

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    I cover the 2 x 6 top with 6 inch wide click type laminate. Lay it like you would the floor and cut to size. It is water resistant, hard and does not have any grooves to let dirt and small things get stuck in it. I use it on my radial arm saw top also.
     
  8. J.R.W.

    J.R.W. Member

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    I used the Helmsman finish on mine. Still going strong five years later with barely a scratch.
     
  9. Hit_Factor

    Hit_Factor Member

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    I used a counter top from Home Depot. for my bench surface. It was a return and dirt cheap.

    If I were to paint, I'd go with white and maybe a coat or two of something clear to toughen up the surface.
     
  10. blarby

    blarby Member

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    Depends on your needs/wants.

    Personally, I just like the wood.

    As certaindeaf pointed out- formica is a popular choice, and it can be had for cheep cheep cheep !
     
  11. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    I've had several benches, and the latest with the black laminate top has been my least favorite. The reason is that when a primer hits this super hard surface it simply bounces anywhere and goes a long way. True it's easy to see where it went with the black surface, unless it gets onto the floor.

    The best surface I ever used was un-sanded B/C plywood with the B surface turned up. Then some cheap "sanding sealer" so that coffee stains don't soak in. That surface stops bounces because it remains slightly rough. It's hard to find Winchester-colored primers on, but CCI and Federal stand out nicely. The best things were you can locally re-apply sanding sealer if you get a gouge, and it always looks clean.

    I could also go with the truck surface, because that would be the opposite end of the scale. Wood is soft, but repairable. The truck surface is impervious and permanent. Counter top laminates are somewhere between those 2. They show every dropped wrench or die set in the way of divots, which are not repairable.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  12. 918v

    918v Member

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    +1

    Cheap and durable.
     
  13. spectra

    spectra Member

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    I used a poly on mine seems to work ok. I have a butcher block type surface that I got at Ikea for 120 bucks. 6 foot x 2 foot x 1 1/2 thick.
     
  14. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Member

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    I have one that is Formica, and my other is MDF, and I added a 3/4" piece of ply wood glued and screwed on top. I sanded it smooth and then polyurethane. Works well. I recommend what ever you use make it as smooth and bright as you can. The MDF may need to be re-enforced for your press though.
     
  15. bonez

    bonez Member

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    I have a friend who makes granite countertops. Went to his shop one day and he had a truckload of Corian that he removed from a job he was working on. He sold it to me cheap and I hauled it home and used it as the top surface for the 1.5" thick reloading bench I had put together. Great stuff, cheap second hand, impervious to most chemicals you would use around firearms/reloading. You might luck into some if you call the countertop installers in your area.
     
  16. aka108

    aka108 Member

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    Mine is a piece of plywood siding left over from constructing out shop and carport. Everything is constructed of scrap lumber and the only cost was a bit of time. Some cabinets are wood ammo cases.
     
  17. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    If you want pretty there is nothing better locking and classier than a laminated maple "bowling alley" bench top. For practical, light colored formica is hard to beat because it is tough, easy to clean and relatively inexpensive. We have both types on different loading benches where I work and at my home shop, and I like them both.
     
  18. jack44

    jack44 Member

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    Mines nothing special just OSB 7/16"
     
  19. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Mine is 2x8 top with a sheet of masonite lightly nailed to the top. When it gets to looking bad, it's really easy to just pop it up and put another sheet of it down and your back to a new looking top with a minimal amount of work.
    you could turn the soft side up for a more anti-skid top if you want, what ever floats your boat.
     
  20. jhvaughan2

    jhvaughan2 Member

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    Beat me to it. Just like mine. When it gets cut, scratched or stained too much just replace the .top sheet
     
  21. bfoosh006

    bfoosh006 Member

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    To be blunt... if you plywood is rough a bunch of paint won't make it smooth.

    Just thinking outside the box, but could you glue some linoluem to it ? It is about as cheap as can be made and is pretty darn un-breakable.

    If you you do paint it a good oil-based paint is quite durable, go with a High Gloss as it will be less likely to stain. If you don't want a stinky oil paint...Sherwin Williams markets a Water-Borne One componant Epoxy that is darn good also.
     
  22. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    FWIW I'm a fan of polyurethane on wood and have used it in numerous places including some woodworking benches. It's no smoother than the prepared surface. It will dent and gouge.
    In other areas I've used formica and like it. It's NOT cheap, but is very durable and smooth and a color can be chosen to suit the use. I prefer a light solid color.
    It is important to have a flat hard surface with no voids to end up with a durable top. MDF is fine for this use-- Very smooth, flat and hard.
    If you have a router, a professional looking formica top is easy to attain using contact cement and a slightly oversized piece of formica trimmed to fit the edges of the bench. Without the router, it' a lot more time and effort using a power saw to 'get close' and a file to finish the flush edge.
     
  23. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Last bench I had was a 1" thick piece of Advantec (MDF) and a piece of off white Flormica on it with a 1/16 lip/trim around the edge to stop things from rolling off. I made a new bench (recently built house) out of softwood scraps laminated together and glued/painted gray with a lip also. Someday I will glue some Flormica on it cause I like that tough finish.
     
  24. MADDOG

    MADDOG Member

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    My bench is 3 2x12's with a piece of 3/16" aluminum plate on it. Works out very well.
     
  25. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Member

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    I used 3/4" sanded pine plywood, stained it black and put five coats of polyurethane on it. The sanded plywood has regular plywood sandwiched between it for a 3" thick top. This was a very cheap solution. If the top ever gets really beat up I can rebuild it easily. I was worried about the black stain but everything is easy to see on it. Makes cleaning up powder easy.


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