Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by James THR, Aug 30, 2006.
My Humble Bench
It ain't much but it works for me.
I thought you could all use a good laugh. This is my bench where hopefully there will be some equipment soon. I haven't reloaded yet but I am getting very close to buying my equipment. I just want to say there are a lot of nice looking benches and setups. This helps me a lot and probably others that are new and want to get started. Great thread and keep it going.
Here's a few shots of mine.
I am just starting out, thanks for all the pics, they inspired me to build my own bench.
I asked my wife if I could take over a corner of the basement to make a reloading area. Well I made a little reloading room.
Looking from the doorway:
Can you see the safe handle? I built the safe into the wall:
Here's the case cleaning area:
Gun cleaning bench:
There you have it. How'd I do?
That's a Dillon 650 bolted to the bench. You can't quite see that the bench has a 2X4 brace going up to the joist and another 2X4 attached to the wall that secures the top of the bench. You could dance on top of the bench. I framed the room in the usual way and put up cedar paneling, but put the safe flush into the wall.
Here's the back of the wall with the safe:
I work part time at an indoor shooting range/gun shop (ain't life grand?), that's where I got the Glock banner, and a few others. If I'm not upstairs in my office at the computer, you'll find me tinkering around down in the shop.
I can't think of a better place to hide!
Just an observation for everyone: Your scale is very suseptable to dust. It works best and most accurately when it is dust-free. I found a solution at Lowe's several years ago. Find one of the clear plastic "shoe boxes" they sell in their organizer section. I tossed the lid and place the box upside down over my scale. It's sized just right, stays nice and pristine and it's a lot better IMHO than the vinyl bag-type covers that you usually see. Just a thought.
Here's shots of my humble main and secondary benches.
I would add to the comment "strong enough to dance on". Anybody just starting out reloading; IF the bench you're going to build is NOT strong enough to dance on, it won't be strong enough to load on! Build whatever bench you are considering to whithstand a lot of pressure, especially side ways torque applied by a press on one edge while sizing cases! It WILL try to tip the whole bench over! Even just lifting the other side a little is un-nerving, especially if you have loose bullets sitting on top or charged cases in a loading block.
One trick is to put all your bullets on the back edge to conterweight it so it won't lift. A simpler idea is to screw it to the wall/floor to make it stay put.
bench top material ideas
I just put together my second reloading bench. The first one I used 3/4" CDX plywood with 1/4" masonite board on the top. That was OK but had a little bit of give when sizing brass and torquing the endge of the bench.
For this #2 bench top I have 1" pine board as a base. Actual thickness of 1", not nominal. Boards are glued together to form a 24" wide board, from Home Depot). then I put 3/4" playwood that has Birch veneers on the top. The birch gives it a reasonably hard and smooth finish compared to fir/pine veneers. Looking back I wish I had spent the extra few dollars over the birch and just went ahead with an oak veneer plywood.
I used seven 5/16" galvanized (not zinc) bolts to secure the 23"x38" top to th e base cabinet. The cabinet is 32" wide. In order to provide room for the press to operate I have a 6" overhand on the right side where I mounted it. This combination is very sturdy and stable. No give at all no matter how hard I push down on the press handle.
The other approach I was thinking off until I found the glued up pine boards was to use 2x6 or 2x8 as a base and then 1/4" masonite over the top for a smooth finish. At any rate I think you want a minumum thickness of 1 1/2" to 2" for a reloading bench top.
Haven't used the casefeed for the LNL.
Space Saving Vertical Reloading Bench
When I started reloading 12 years ago, I built a space saving vertical reloading bench and bolted it to the back wall of a walk in closet. Close the closet door, and you'd never know a gun nut lived there. I've since moved and space is more of a premium than it was, so I was very glad I made a compact space saving reloading bench. I upgraded from the Lee Pro-1000 to a Lee LoadMaster. The bench is in my office, behind my computer. Turn around in the chair and I'm reloading instead of computing.
So far, I'm reloading 9mm and 10mm, but I also have a quick change turret and shell plate for .223 I haven't used yet, and I plan on adding .308 soon. I have a lot of unused storage space on the vertical bench that I'll be filling up soon.
Not shown: The brass I have stored in Rubbermaid storage containers (a bit larger and sturdier than plastic shoe boxes), the brass tumbler and media separator, the lead melt pot and bullet casting equipment, the Lee LoadAll 12 gauge shot shell loading press I've never used and the 1000 hulls I have to go with it.
Also not shown: I have a bright light on the left side that I can point at the press, and a very nice (and expensive!) lighted magnifier on the bench to the right that i can use to examine fine details. My 46 year old eyes need a lot of light and magnification for detailed work.
The vertical bench allows a lot of storage options for reloading equipment, powder, bullets, primers, etc. It could be easily expanded to accommodate a second press or more storage.
I use the MTM ammo boxes to store loads under development so I can keep them straight while test firing them. Once a load is the way I want it, I just load into mil-surp ammo cans and dip out of them into the Dilln Bordercross ammo range bag.
Here's a cheesy video of one round of 9mm being reloaded on the LoadMaster progressive press.
Since the video and the picture above, I've added a second 2X8 under the press to stiffen the bench. The compact design is very stiff and solid, and mounting it to the wall keeps the loading bench from moving. It's rock solid.
I'm pleasantly surprised by the amount of readily available storage space on my vertical reloading bench, although I know I'll outgrow it. I'll probably add a second, smaller vertical bench to the left for the 12 gauge reloader.
I don't really want to store the other stuff with my reloading bench in it's current location in my office because all the bullet casting and brass cleaning operations can generate lead dust, and I'm kind of nuts about keeping the few brain cells I have left working as well as possible.
I started reloading to be able to afford to shoot the 10mm. With hard cast bullets, mostly from free used wheel weights from the local tire shop, my 10mm cost is about four cents a round, which is about the cost of premium 22 ammo. However, I was surprised that I enjoyed reloading as a hobby unto itself. I reload 9mm ammo now, and using Rainier plated bullets I'm currently not saving much over the cost of buying 9mm ammo, but I reload because I enjoy it. I'll start casting 9mm bullets too. That 9mm SUB-2000 carbine has an insatiable appetite.
Two steel desk opposite each other.
44and45- Why so many presses? 1 dedicated to each different load you run? Or do you load in a volume I can't imagine?
My bench-No pictures so use your imagination here:
4X8' foot white 1 1/2" countertop material with the 8' side attatched permanently to a wall. Dillon 650 on one corner facing the wall. RCBS rockchucker supreme on the oppisite side, but facing toward the dillon press instead of towards the wall.
You guys with non white surfaces:
You may want to consider getting scrap linoleum or something similar in white to cover your bench top. I loaded for years on dads bench with a plain particleboard top. The diffrerence in visibility is amazing.
I bought them because I could afford to. Had a lot of this stuff for years, there is another Dillon 550-B next to the RL-450, not shown in picture.
The RL-450 is set up permenately for .45 Colt caliber.
In the second picture on right, the brown presses are Herter's, set up for bullet swaging. They, and the red Lee Classic, are for bullet swaging, they also have automatic apparatice to eject the processed lead bullet after swaging. (my invention)
The other presses are for working up loads, or just collector items.
Pretty bad, when you show a picture and someone still can't imagine their purpose...its a hobby. Do you have more than one rifle or handgun...that's a hobby too.
But hey, if I can have over a dozen 357 wheelies, you can have that many presses right?
Now that is something I can't imagine, a dozen .357 wheely guns...but, if they were .44 special, or .45 Colt, or even .45 acp...I could redly accept that premise.
Not one magnum among these ancient wheelies. Couple are nearly on the century mark. The youngest made during WW-2.
I bought a few things. Here is my bench now.
I was surprised when I started reloading just to be able to afford to shoot the 10mm, and immediately discovered that reloading wasn't a way to enjoy the hobby of shooting as much as it was another all new hobby in and of itself. I'm a Dr. Science geeky kind of guy, and I like to tinker, so I thought I'd enjoy developing loads and testing stuff, but I really had no idea that reloading was a hobby until I was already doing it. That's not fair. There should be a warning label on all addictive substances.
In my reloading addiction, I like having one press and a quick change turret for each caliber, but if you have the space, the ultimate quick change caliber is one press per caliber and slide the office chair two feet down the bench to the next press.
I just placed a $270 order at MidwayUSA yesterday, and it was almost all reloading stuff, including .380 dies for the LAR-10 rifle I probably won't be buying for several months.
Speaking of addictions and collecting... those wheel guns are nice, but you really should be buying 10mm pistols.
My latest addiction is Kel-Tecs.
PLR-16 - I thought .223 was a poodle plinker until I actually shot one
SUB-2000 - Folding pistol carbine that's tons of fun
PF-9 - I'm anxiously trying to find this new single stack 9mm
LAH, howya doing.
The Lyman has an original long wooden handle for that model, the powder measure is an old Herter's No. 45 model with a long shaft to clear the turret dies. It works pretty good for such old technology, quite accurate as long as I keep it clean out between sessions of loading.
The AA press also has Lyman Universal shellholder, that's why the strange set screw, it will take any standard modern shellholder regardless of make. The knurled knob below the shellholder set-screw is for holding the orange plastic brass frame tray setting on the press base right side.
The All American turret press is one of my favorites, I use it for working up new loads, or small amounts to be loaded.
It came down from BC in Canada, that's where I bought it from some guy on an auction site. It was originally some faded out puke red, but I like the Allis Challmers orange, that Lyman of olden days use to use.
The other Lyman orange press is a real ancient antique, a Tru-line Jr. turret, its set up for .45 auto rim caliber. But haven't loaded anything on it for over a year, too busy loading and shooting other calibers.
The knob handle on the C-H black press, is not original equipment. It's off an a Dillon extra handle I once had.
Since my auto disk powder measure won't meter my Unique powder worth a damn, I'm having to manually charge my cases with the scale. On the flip side, this is far more accurate and consistent, albeit slower. I'm doing about 50 rounds/hour, this is fine, since time is not an issue with me.
I'd think 50 rounds an hour would be a slow rate for precise finely tuned match target rifle ammo once you were in full production instead of development. It looks like you're reloading .40 S&W?
You could drastically increase the speed by using a powder dipper. If you want a precise amount that isn't available from Lee, you could dribble a little epoxy into the next larger dipper to fine tune it. You could also use a cap screw to make a slightly adjustable dipper, or make your own dipper with a brass case soldered to a copper rod and sand down the case mouth to reduce the volume. A squatty .45 case makes a good dipper. If you make any modifications to a standard dipper, be sure to permanently mark the dipper with its new volume.
The Lee Safety scale works very well to be so inexpensive, but fast it is not. I use mine sometimes to double check a critical weight and cross check calibrate my digital scales (which are inexpensive on eBay).
I was not aware that the Auto Disk powder measure had trouble dropping Unique, but I've never tried. Did you try the $30 Pro Auto Disk with the elastomer wiper and Teflon coated body, or just the original Auto Disk? Sometimes it helps to cycle the Auto Disk through half a pound of powder to coat the walls of the disk and the powder measure body with graphite. It makes the measure operate more smoothly (graphite has lubricant properties) and also reduces static cling (graphite is a conductor).
It also helps to tap the powder measure when the bottom is open so it drops the entire powder charge with some extruded stick powders that tend to bridge. That's a bit of a hassle, but MUCH better than using the Safety Powder Scale to slowly measure each load. My progressive presses have been pretty good about shaking the powder measure when charging so I don't need to tap them.
Whatever you do, remember that powder charging is probably the most critical part of reloading, and you must ensure that every powder charge is correct. Weighing each charge does that, but it's a major hassle. I think it can be done safely with the Pro Auto Disk, but any time I make any change, and at the start of every reloading session, I check several consecutive powder charges to make sure the powder measure is not only dropping the correct charge weight, but is doing so in a repeatable and reliable manner. I also visually gauge the powder height as I manually insert the bullet as a final rough safety inspection for each powder charge. That's probably the main reason I don't use an automatic bullet inserter. It'd still be possible to check the powder height, but I'd probably get lazy and stop doing it.
Redneck with a .40, try a Dillon PM with a slide bar. They come with rifle or handgun.
In the picture of my C-H black press, it has an old Dillon RL-450 manual push knob PM. This unit can handle just about any handgun flake, or extruded rifle powder with ease.
The only PM in my stable that is really cranky, is the Lyman Tru-line Jr. No.55 model. Its shown on the little turret press.
Redneck I love that desk/bench.
44/45 the local gunshop has a Tru-Line Jr. for sale.
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