Optimum 'top' for a reloading bench

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by lykoris, Jan 31, 2010.

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  1. lykoris

    lykoris Member

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    I'm in the process of building a proper reloading bench having gotten by with a bench more or less thrown together in a hurry.

    I'm just wondering what sort of a top is best in terms of material/depth.

    The deepest cut sheets I can buy are 28mm or just over an inch, so I was thinking of gluing two of them together and putting a 2mm aluminum cover on top of that(easier to wipe dust off).

    Then I remember somebody recently stating he would advise using a kitchen top...not sure about that given it's basically covered chipboard. It would seem less sturdy than bolted wood.

    So I'm wondering, if weight isn't a problem, what would the best top be for a bench?
     
  2. bfoosh006

    bfoosh006 Member

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  3. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    2x10's or 2x12's with a very sturdy frame underneath!

    Remember just one thing:
    You are building a RELOADING BENCH, NOT A GRAND PIANO for goodness sake.

    Do you expect to be spilling powder all over?
    If so, stick with wood, as in winter months when the air is dry, any static could result in ignition of any spills and a subsequent fire and/or EXPLOSION HAZARD!
     
  4. Randy1911

    Randy1911 Member

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    I used a piece of 3/4" plywood that is sanded very smooth. I have been using this bench for over 13 years and it has never given me a single problem. It is more than strong enough for my needs. On the lower shelf I have over 100 pounds of lead bullets and it holds them fine (it helps hold the bench stable). The frame is only made out of 2x4's that is screwed and glued together.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  5. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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    I would use 3/4 in plywood under a sheet of 3/4 MDF for a sturdy, easy to clean surface. Right now mine is laminated 3/4 in oak (1.5 in thick total), but it's a small table and the price gets up there for a whole bench. The frame that you bolt the top to will help add stability if you build it right.
     
  6. fullmag

    fullmag Member

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    I went to lowes found some damaged and dinged counter tops for cheep makes for a very fancy bench I think its great, plenty sturdy, just ran two 2x4's under the spot where my press is attached running long bolts thru them and Im not sure that it needed that really, drip edge keeps things from rolling onto floor and cleanning bench is a breese.
     
  7. Winston_Smith

    Winston_Smith Member

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    Durcon or steel.
     
  8. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    Either get a 4x8 sheet of 3/4 MDF or furniture grade plywood. Cut it longways and glue & screw them together. Bolt it to your top and you are done. Total cost is under $50.00.
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I'll be another vote for steel 3/8-1/2 inch will make one very stable platform.
     
  10. flashhole

    flashhole Member

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    The black strips are 5/16" steel that staddle the legs. They are secured to 3/4" plywood with a 5/4" x 3" wood strip for support to keep the plywood from sagging. This is very stout and I get zero bench flex.

    Newbench2.jpg
     
  11. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

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    You can buy a 3/4" plywood, then glue a 1/4" Masonite top , the Masonite is a very hard durable surface although it is rather dark.
     
  12. rondog

    rondog Member

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    JMHO, but for my workbenches I like to put a piece of plywood on the top as a work surface. Plywood gives a good grip, I can drill holes or run screws in it, spills don't bother me, and when it gets nasty I can quickly replace it with another piece. It's a workbench, not a desk or dining table.
     
  13. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    We build industrial equipment and use PVC sheeting for bench tops. It's easy to work with, can be cut and shaped with woodworking tools, impervious to stains and impacts. If you want a drip edge, use a router and cut a trough around the perimeter to catch liquids and small parts. Material is available in different thicknesses and colors.

    Most benches can be done for about $100.


    bench1.gif
     
  14. gearheadpyro

    gearheadpyro Member

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    I used a piece of 3/4" finish plywood on top of some 2x10's. When it's time to do it again (due to moving/growing) it'll be a fire door for the top. A little bit deeper and solid as can be.
     
  15. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    I have made some by taking kitchen counters and gluing and screwing marine grade 3/4 plywood to it underneath. Other ones have been made with 2 layers of 3/4 plywood glued and screwed. Either have worked well
     
  16. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    I just use 3/4 MDF, double stacked if I need something really sturdy. The bench frame as a whole is made from standard studs, that are secured to the actual wall studs via 3" decking screws. My bench does not move at all when using my progressive or single stag press, regardless of what I'm trying to do.

    -Jenrick
     
  17. Jeeper

    Jeeper Member

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    Do not use MDF. If you spill a liquid it will swell up. The best I have used is a kitchen counter top. It has a backsplash that prevents things from rolling off the back and it totally liquid resistant. That way you can clean guns, spill powder and anything else on it. Just brace under where the press goes and you will be fine. Using 2x6's would be very strong but powder and primers get stuck between them. I did that on a bench I had 10 years ago. I have also used plywood sanded and sealed. It was nice but no where as nice as the countertops.

    Here is a picture of the last one I did like that.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. FAS1

    FAS1 Member

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    Mine is made from a discarded lab countertop from a high school chemistry class. It is very dense pressboard of some kind with a smooth black coating and backsplash. It weighs alot and doubles as a workbench. I have had it for over 20 years.
     
  19. broham

    broham Member

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    A piece of sub floor with 4 to 5 coats of varnish for a sealer. It's cheap, super durable and leaves plenty of cash left over for supplies.
     
  20. Sidewinder72

    Sidewinder72 Member

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    I use an old solid core door cut to size. Very stable and the price was right. FREE
     
  21. ar10

    ar10 Member

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    I don't worry about the bench. It's the floor. Try this some time when you're not busy: Empty a box of primers about 12" above your bench, then see how many you can find and how long it takes. The majority of them won't be on the bench.
    My loading bench is my work bench for everything else I have to work on. I use my 16" disk sander base plate to to bolt my powder throw on. I found a 4" x 14" dia. solid marble lamp stand that holds both my scales, and I built my own frame to hold the two single stage presses. The frame is made of 1/4"x2x2 angle iron and its heavy. When I finish reloading everything I have put it all away in the cabinets so I can start another project.
     
  22. JohnMcD348

    JohnMcD348 Member

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    I used 3/4" plywood for my counter top base and then glued a sheet of basic white Formica type sheeting like you'd find on cheaply made counter tops. that way, over time, if I have to replace it, just chisel it up and do it again. Smooth surface and easy to clean.
     
  23. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Member

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    I used tempered hardboard (masonite) for mine, it has held up quite well over the years.
     
  24. woodsja

    woodsja Member

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    I have a 4x8 solid wood table I got in the 80's from surplus. 3 holes and it's good to go. The as far as HDPE: I found out several of the plastic shops in a nearby industrial park sell their scrap by weight. I was able to get two 6x6x18 blocks suitable for CnC work for $3/lb. It's worth checking the yellow pages if that's what you want.
     
  25. Sommerled

    Sommerled Member

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    If you have access to basic woodworking tools, a solid douglas fir bench top is as strong as oak and a lot cheaper. I made my first bench out of 2x12 ripped to 3" and glued back together face to face. This made a self supporting 8 foot top 3" thick x 24" wide. Very heavy. Flatten the top with a belt sander. I made this top 28 years ago and it is now in my garage as I made a new one out of white oak a few years ago. Either way, if you want a purdy bench it is hard to beat solid wood. Pricing no.2 Fir means you coud build a top for about $60.
     
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