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Need help designing a Reloading bench

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Wildyams, Nov 9, 2009.

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  1. Wildyams

    Wildyams Member

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    I know there are many plans out there online, but I'm thinking about take a Furniture design class that my university offers. It is part of the architecture department, so a large part of the grade is on the design (making it look cool and still be functional)

    So I'm coming to you guys to ask, what extra little thing do you want in your bench?

    What would be the ideal surface? (I saw one table that was made out of a bunch of 2x2's glued together, 3 deep. but i'm not sure if that could handle a press?)

    Can you think of any cool little features you would like to add?

    The size i'm shooting for is a 4x8, could be a little bigger or a little smaller. Most likely going to be made out of wood.


    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Scott

    attached are a couple of pictures of where the bench will be located. Sorry for the bad pictures.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2009
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I built mine about 40 years ago out of 2"x4" & 2"x6" screwed & glued framing, with a laminated top out of doubled & glued 3/4" plywood.
    I had just torn out some old kitchen cabinets and used the drawers from them under the top.

    I have a big bench vice on one end, and reloading equipment on the other.
    I've used a barrel vice in the bench vice to re-barrel several rifles and the bench is still solid as a rock.

    The only thing I would do different is use white or light color Formica on top of the 1 1/2" plywood top for better visibility & easier clean-up.

    rc
     
  3. kludge

    kludge Member

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    smooth, flat, easy to clean surface.

    a lip or something on the edge to keep things from rolling off.

    4x8 would be really too huge for me.

    I would like somthing that looked like a computer cabinet when closed, and when I open the doors there's the bench... maybe some cool contraption that would pull or fold out and still be heavy duty and withstand the pressure of the press.

    No more than 24" deep or 36" wide. Think apratment dwellers (I'm not) or WAF (wife acceptance factor)

    A book shelf above, shelf below, and a small file drawer for log books or whatever

    Separate powder and primer storage areas, and a place to keep the dies.

    An area to hang bins or set containers for the stuff I'm working on right now

    An overhead light.

    A shelf for the tumber.

    a small drawer for miscellaneous tools (calipers, screwdrivers, pens, labels, deep enough to fit a box of ziplock bags).

    a place to fit a stool inside when it's closed up.
     
  4. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Member

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    save room in the layout for a spare single stage press. regardless of a progressive or a single stage primary press it will come in handy. if you have a reloading 'buddy' you'll be surprised at the pistol rounds you can turn out with the 'buddy' running the second press seating/crimping or Lee FCD if you use a progressive.
    make sure you have a good flourescent light fixture overhead.
     
  5. jfh

    jfh Member

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    There are any number of base cabinet / framing designs that could work, so an important specification is for the top.

    My last two reloading benches (the previous one was built in place; the current one, less so) had tops made up of two layers of nominal 3/4" MDO--professionally laminated (i.e., under pressure at a cabinet shop), and then covered with formica.

    Both have been made with a nominal 6" deep overhang to facilitate press mounting and to provide "kneeroom." This design has worked well for my Lee presses and my primarily-handgun reloading (on up through .223), and I don't see why it would not for bigger calibers. IOW, this is a version similar to what rcmodel built forty years ago, but with a top made up of the newer products. Note that the top core is MDO, not chipboard. A standard-grade, matte-finish formica has worked fine--but these benches are used only for reloading.

    Another feature is to provide for wall mounting, and for top "tie-down." My current bench was installed under a previously-built heavy-duty overhead shelf. I simply ran two "legs" (one at each corner of a 54" bench) down from that shelf to the top, directly over the base cabinet outside corners. Between the tie into the wall (lags from the base cabinet frame) and pressure from the overhead shelf, the bench is securely locked in place.

    added on edit: I just noticed you were considering a 4'x8' workspace. Personally, I would consider a 4'-deep bench too deep. 30" to 32" deep works quite well for me--and it allows lining up a one-box deep (maybe two boxes) row of bullets along the wall edge, where they are reachable, but back far enough to be out of the way of the currently-used gear.

    Jim H.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  6. Wildyams

    Wildyams Member

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    I was thinking I want to get something that can accommodate what I do right now and am planning on doing in the near future, which is a progressive for pistols (hopefully soon) single stage for rifles, then I have my MEC 600 and on a lower shelf for my tumbler.

    I have one of the Thumlers rotary tumbler, those don't cause a whole lot of vibration that I would have to worry about isolating, do they?

    my reloading room is a 12x12 room in the basement, so space is not the biggest concern for me, but I might play around with the idea of an opening desk.

    I have a few other ideas in my head, I'll sketch them up then get your guys opinions on them.

    Thanks for the input so far guys
     
  7. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    The Old 'Civil Service' or similar Institutinal Oak Desks make wonderful Work Benches, and, have a large knee-hole, Typewriter pull-outs, and, drawers.


    Used to be any Thrift Store would tend to have one or two.


    Hard to find now...but they sure work well.
     
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I 2nd & 3rd the 4' x 8' bench is too wide.

    That's more like a ping-pong table then a reloading bench.

    My bench is 24" x 8' and I can reach the back of it without a step-stool.

    4 foot wide and I couldn't.

    rc
     
  9. kludge

    kludge Member

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    Ooo... a typewriter pullout... that's an interesting thought...
     
  10. jfh

    jfh Member

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    a couple more ideas--

    Since this is an "architectural" class, the instructor will get off on not only good (industrial) design, but also some "engineering" considerations.

    1. Look at what fastener systems might be available to a) readily tie it back to the wall, and 2) maybe even locate the legs in place.

    2. Consider the workflow of a specific press-and-caliber, and do the press layout accordingly. For example, my turret press is mounted to the left, and my progressive is mounted to the right. That's because the progressive--a Load-Master--needs more room for components to its left, where I have more bench space, and the cartridge bins mount to the right--where they can easily be removed and taken off to the wall.

    3. a back shelf about 14"-16" up from the top is a good idea--heavy-duty; mine is just constructed of 2x materials. For my 30" deep bench, it is constructed of 2x6s, not MDO. It functions for a location for the turrets / die sets, changeout parts, etc., and is at a good height for reading a scale (at least for my aging eyes).

    4. If you don't have it, "Graphics Standards" is an excellent reference for the ergonomics issues of workbenches, desktops, countertops, et.al.--I haven't looked at mine in years, but I know they're updated--who knows, a current edition may even have reloading bench considerations in there.

    With "ergonomics" in mind, then, specify the type of work location and related seating / floor materials. For example, I now load sitting fairly low at a higher bench--it's what works for my lower-back pain / sore shoulder / aging eyes issues. The stool I use is adjustable height--specify that sort of adjunct equipment, IOW. (Others have already mentioned lighting--and include area worklights, as well as strip / fluorescent lighting.)

    Jim H.
     
  11. mongoose33

    mongoose33 Member

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    I've used a solid-core door for a reloading bench--it's a great size. And as far as legs go, you will be hard-pressed to find a better approach than this:


    [​IMG]


    My father-in-law taught me this--level the bench, tighten down the bolts holding the 2x4s at the legs, and it'll be level and solid.

    Works great.

    BTW: I've done another bench where I had 2x6s laid side-to-side and then bolted to a horizontal 2x4. Only problem with that is if the 2x6s are not perfectly straight and untwisted, the result will rack out of square. Not fun fixing that. It's why I went to a solid-core door.
     
  12. mongoose33

    mongoose33 Member

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    Another trick I like is to use a narrow shelf on the wall just above the reloading bench (or any bench for that matter). It is perfect for getting stuff up and out of the way. Like so:

    [​IMG]

    and so:

    [​IMG]

    and so:

    [​IMG]

    The first two are my clubmaking benches, which have given way to reloading, though they can be converted back to clubmaking as necessary. :)
     
  13. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    I'm in the process of building one. It's rock solid. I used the wood fiber and resin 4 1/4" by 4 1/4" fake wood posts they use for decks as the legs (they weigh a ton and are straight as an arrow). They come in 51" lengths at Lowes. I cut mine back to 45" because I always stand while at the bench and that is a good height for me. A top and two 2' x 4' shelves of braced 3/4" plywood but I'm mounting the presses on a 5/16" steel plate that straddles both legs on the short dimension secured to both the bench top and legs with bolts. The vertical and lateral stress from the press is all directed into the legs. I gave it a second coat of paint tonight, tomorrow I will pick up a drill bit and drill the steel and mount the presses. I should be able to post a pic in a day or two.
     
  14. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    Most users want something that will keep round things from rolling off the benchtop, but they don't want a raised lip around the edge, because that makes it difficult to handle something that needs to hang off the end/side of the bench, yet lay flat.

    I think the answer is to route a groove in the top, all the way around, just inside the edge. Round things will stop in or at the groove, but flat things can still hang over the edge while laying flat. Kind of like the "blood groove" around the top of some butcher blocks. I would make the groove a little less than finger width (3/8"?) and with a rounded bottom to make it easier to clean/sweep out. You might even use a 1/2" or 3/4" roundnose bit, but only cut deep enough such that the groove is 3/8" or 1/2" wide. This would keep the slopes of the sides of the groove shallow enough for cleaning and retrieving items that have rolled into it, while still being large and deep enough to keep stuff from rolling past it and off the bench.

    If you are tight on space for the bench when not in use, but have room to bring it out and work, consider heavy duty locking casters. Even a small bench "works big" because you have access to all four sides of not only the top, but the shelves below too. I built my bench using a heavy duty steel router table leg set from Rockler, with the matching locking casters. Loaded down with supplies and tools, it is amazingly stable with the casters locked, yet easily rolls around for use when the are unlocked.

    IMHO, 4' is way too deep for a benchtop to which you only have access to one side. 30" max if you cant walk around to the other side. If it sits out in the middle of the floor, 4' would not be bad at all, but you're basically looking at two benches back to back, and you'll often find that something you need is out of reach without walking around to get it. Then you'll wonder why you built a bench with a 24' perimeter...

    Andy
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  15. soloban

    soloban Member

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    Here's mine...its made of 2 sheets of 2x4 ply and 4 2x4s. Pretty simple, very sturdy. PM me for a Google Sketchup file.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Wildyams

    Wildyams Member

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    One thing I would really like to do is make it so I can mount different things to the bench, like some sort of a track system or something. I've seen a few pictures of it before, but is there a way to make it look really good? (I think the grade is based more on looks than functionality.)

    and one reason why I have a 4 foot deep bench is I have a bookshelf on the back as well as my loaded ammo



    I uploaded a picture of a quick sketchup model I made up, just the top portion of it. Right now its drawn with a 6" thick top, which is a little over kill, but I think it would have a good look to it. On the left hand side, the shelf has a place to tuck a florescent light in. I would imagine some sort of peg board underneath the light.
    Then you can see the Die storage area, right below that is a place to store powder (I know it would be more practical to not put that piece with holes in it, just a blank shelf, but the more specific we design things the better, ie that area can only be used for powder) Then there is the corner shelving to hold bigger things and a book shelf sized shelf extending off of that.

    The part that doesn't have a back I am planning on doing something to hold a scale and other powder handling things, possibly something that can be pulled out and pushed back in when not in use.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2009
  17. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    Interesting concept. Over the years I found I like access to all sides of the bench and to all surfaces. The primary work surface doesn't have to be all that big and it helps a lot to have other benches and shelves available.
     
  18. halfded

    halfded Member

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    Make sure the area where your press will be mounted sticks out past the edge of the framing of your bench. You need room for the linkage and the arm to move on your press.

    I got LUCKY with mine; another inch too short and I would have had to take the whole top off and redo it.
     
  19. jandrotoro

    jandrotoro Member

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  20. jfh

    jfh Member

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    An honest critique of your initial sketch: The bench layout, with its L-design / inside corner, severely limits the usefulness of the bench as a reloading workspace. There really is room for only one press mounting--at the far right. Most reloaders would like to have at least the option of setting up a 2nd station--e.g., a SS press.

    Secondly--designed-iin cubbies and niches severely constrain their uses. A quick look at the range of 1-lb (not to mention 3-4-8 lb containers) powder container shapes and sizes shows that. I could see a specific module--say for a turret shelf for Lee turrets (including the 5-die Load-Master turrets) that would switch out with, say the Dillon heads, or the Hornady dies--but it should be switchable.

    IMO.

    Jim H.
     
  21. kludge

    kludge Member

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    Good call!
     
  22. kludge

    kludge Member

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    Here's a quick sketch of what I have in mind... a work in progress... My wife doesn't want to see the junk, and I have lots of kids who can't be trusted, and I don't want to reload in the garage and I don't have a basement.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. Deavis

    Deavis Member

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    I've had good luck with 2x4 framing on 2x4 or 4x4 legs. Used 2x8s to create the top and covered it with plywood to create a flat surface. Grabbed some vinyl matting from the local hardware store, glued it down and I've got a roll proof top that looks good and is easy to clean. I bored a few holes for the power cords to go through and put my electrical underneath along with grounding wires for each press. I have a bottom shelf and a middle shelf that runs partway. Allows me to store tall items on one side and bullets and the like on the two tier side. I ended up getting rid of the middle shelf once I got more storage space and now stack brass up high underneath. So far it works pretty darn well.
     

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  24. kludge

    kludge Member

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    soloban, I like the straps on the front for the bins.

    A "typewriter pullout" in the same spot could be used when using loading blocks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2009
  25. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    Wild, it appears your "bench" will be free standing in the middle of the floor? If so, your 4'x8' size will be great to work on, it will effectively give you some 24' of bench front. I do have some thoughts for your consideration, especally if innovation and thoughtfull design is signifacant.

    A bench that size might be best if it's modular. Perhaps three seperate under cabinets that can be connected with lengths of "all thread" rod would be a good base.

    A "book case" shelving unit, maybe 5' long so the bench ends can be used, would be useful and it might be installed standing on the center line of the top. (Loaders need LOTS of storage for components and to keep small tools close at hand.) Have at least one shelf at about chin height to support a beam scale and powder trickler where it can easily be viewed.

    Bench legs need not be massive, single 2x4s or even less will work fine because wood has a lot of compression strength.

    In keeping with the modular concept, and also the need for rigidity plus storage, you might make the top as a torsion box, one that could be taken down a normal home hallway and through a side opening door. If it had maybe a 3.75" cavity you could even have a few shallow drawers in it. And consider letting the top surface extend about 1.5" so you can "C" clamp things anywhere along the top you may wish.

    Mongoose's sturdy machinest vise at a left corner is a really good idea. Not only is such a vise good for common jobs but it can serve very well as a temporary mount for such things as case trimmer/neck turner tools, concentricity gage, small grinders, etc.

    Of course you would need to carefully plan your tool mounting positions for a good work flow pattern before you build the top box and any drawers.

    The right work surface height is critical for good working conditions. Making it just below your bent elbows will be great for standing work and insures a maximum of under bench storage. (A "bar"stool that puts you at the same head height will allow comfortable seated work as well. Any such stool should have a foot rest of some type for sitting comfort, not all stools do.)

    Even at the proper bench height for comfortable work, most presses will require bending over a bit to fully depress the lever. If you block up the press , or whatever is needed, so you can fullly depress the lever without bending over your back will thank you!

    Install some convienences; several short power strips for tumblers, battery chargers, spot lights, drills, Dremel tool, digital scale or powder dumpster, radio, etc. Paper towel and/or toilet tissue holders. Pencil sharpener. Hanger hooks for a couple of bench brushes.

    Just thinking out loud... things I would want for a new bench.

    Good luck on your shop design/work project!
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2009
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