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What to use for top of a reloading bench

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Lucky Strike, Nov 20, 2008.

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  1. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Member

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    I'm about to try out my non existent carpentry skills by building a work bench in my garage this weekend which will mainly serve as a reloading/gun cleaning area

    I'm going to make a frame to attach the top out of 2x4's and use 4x4's for the front legs (the back will be attached to the wall)...either going to be 6 or 8 feet long and like 2.5' deep.

    Just wondering what would be best to use for the top of the bench. What kind of wood? Something I can get at Home Depot would be good since i've got gift cards for there. Is using those countertops made of press boad that already have a laminated top affixed a good idea? They have a rounded edge which seems like it'd be bad for mounting a press but who knows

    I'm not going to try and put build in any drawers or shelves or anything. I've got a couple of those two drawer rolling shelves on casters that I can put underneath the bench for storage purposes.
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I have one bench (in use for about 40 years) made of a sheet of 3/4" plywood sawed in half lengthwise and laminated together.
    That gives you a 2' x 8' x 1 1/2" thick bench top that is almost bullet-proof!

    I have another bench made out of particle-board with Formica laminate on it that I use mostly for priming and powder measures & scales.

    It works very good there.

    I think the pre-formed countertops could be made to work, if you came off the edge with a steel or aluminum, or hardwood press mounting plate bolted to the counter-top.

    I think 3/4" partical-board doubled would also work well, if you use large fender-washers, or steel backer plates to back up the press mounting bolts and prevent crushing the partical board.

    rcmodel
     
  3. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

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    I use a piece of white countertop. Works well. Easy to see spilled powder, and helps the area stay well lit.
     
  4. NC-Mike

    NC-Mike Member

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    I have a little workbench in my garage. 20" by 54" and it had a fiberboard top that was loose. I wnet to home depot and got a piece of 3/4 plywood cut into two 20" x 54" pieces, glued and screwed them togther, sanded, stained and poly-urethaned it and mounted that on my workbench so I can mount my press.

    Worked out good. I have nice big wing nuts on the bolts so when I want to take the press on and off, its quick. I have limited room so I needed to be able to take it off the bench.
     
  5. Envisaged

    Envisaged Member

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    I would use(did use) 1/2" plywood for a top - then top that with 1/8" press board(smooth side up) attached with wood glue so you have no exposed screws/nails.

    You want the 1/2" for rigidity - but make sure you have a 2x4 front/rear/side/middle runners for strength.
     
  6. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

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    My reloading bench is topped with three sheets of 3/4 inch oak plywood. The bench is nice and heavy, and won't jump around the room when you full length resize :).

    Just my .02,
    LeonCarr
     
  7. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Member

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    Something non-sparking!

    Wood can be kind of absorptive so I'd go with aluminum or Formica over whatever you have underneath.

    You can also use a rubber mat or sheet if gluing Formica isn't your thing.
     
  8. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    A preformed countertop will work just fine. Many times you can get seconds or scratched tops quite cheaply. The rolled edge is generally 1 1/2 " thick while the rest of the top is 3/4" If you're concerned about the holding strength just use a 3/4'' board or a small piece of 3/4'' plywood underneath where you bolt the press on....or do like I did and fill the whole recess with 3/4 plywood and you have a solid 1 1/2'' top that will hold a small car. I've found that no matter how rigid your top is, if it isn't fastened well to the legs or wall, it will still rock and wobble everytime you size a case.
     
  9. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Member

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    I got two kitchin cabnets, whith the counter top, screwed them to the wall, i have a place to store all my powder and stuff, got the cabnets used cost was very low! I couldnt have built any thing that cheap, and works great, hung a light over the top and i was ready to load, good luck csa
     
  10. charby

    charby Member

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    I bought a 72" X36" formica topped table from a university surplus sale for $20 and a metal stool for $5 for my reloading bench. So far so good.
     
  11. LopezEL

    LopezEL Member

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  12. Birdhunter1

    Birdhunter1 Member

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    My newest one I used a laminate core door out of a housing dormitory that was wore out, squared up all the edges and framed it flush to the top with a 2x6 all the way around, the corner posts are 2- 2x4's laminated together with a shelf about 12" off the floor near the bottom. Then on top of the laminate core door I used 3/4 MDF (medium denisty fiberboard). The table has absolutely no wobble to it, it is SOLID and it is heavy enough friend of mine and I had to carry it 60' to the reloading shop and had to set it down twice. FWIW I am 28 years old and 5'11" 225 (with farmboy shoulders) and he is about the same size a few years older. next time it moves it is getting slid onto a trailer and hauled to the next garage.
     
  13. moxie

    moxie Member

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    A good grade of plywood, even marine grade is nice. I put an old towel on it as a work surface, and if you do that it really doesn't matter what's underneath. The towel soaks up the grunge and can be changed out. It keeps things like brass from rolling around. I guess the real answer to your question is whatever is cheap and handy.
     
  14. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Member

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    are any of you guys with plywood tops using some sort of polyurethane sealer/stain?

    would this be a good way to make the wood less absorbative (is that word?)
     
  15. DRYHUMOR

    DRYHUMOR Member

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  16. tunnug

    tunnug Member

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    I put a double layer of 3/4 plywood then put 1x2 (actual size is 3/4x1 1/2) furring strip on the front edge, I was then able to sand the wood edge so I won't get splinters like you do on plain edged plywood, on top of this I used a piece of masonite so that when it gets all grungy and uncleanable I can just replace it, for the legs I used an old worktable metal frame the previous owner left me.
     
  17. WNTFW

    WNTFW Member

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    I have a workbench from Sam's. I have the same 1 at work. I can bring my presses to work if I want to. The very top is 1/8" or maybe 1/4" sintra I added on both. It is smooth, easy to clean or replace.
     
  18. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Member

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    I just made mine off the NRMA plans. The top is 3/4" plywood, but the front edge is screwed to a 2x6, so it's a little over 2" thick where the presses mount...very solid.

    I've varnished the top with 3 coats of spar varnish. It looks pretty, but it should also keep the oils and bore cleaner from soaking in.

    Don't know about sparking. I'm not terribly worried about it yet. Maybe when I grab a primer and the spark sets it off.

    -J.
     
  19. Chief-7700

    Chief-7700 Member

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    I used an 1 5/8" solid core door for my benchs tops.
    Chief
     
  20. distra

    distra Member

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    I used 2x4's half lapped at the corners and 2 cross supports. The top is 3/4" birch plywood + 1/4" masonite. This makes an extremely stiff bench top. The masonite can be replaced if it gets marred up. Good luck, it is really not that hard to build.
     
  21. kennedy

    kennedy Member

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    I used the old formica counter top from our kitchen after a remodel, thats for the priming and gun cleaning, I use a old top of a end table for the press with a 2x4 under it for support needed when full lenght sizing.
     
  22. Drail

    Drail Member

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    I would recommend almost any fairly thick heavy material you have or can get. The best top surface I have found is ribbed rubber or vinyl mats or hall runners. The ribs are nice because they keep stuff from rolling around and falling on the floor. I use rubber "welcome" door mats. If you spill powder on it you just pick it up and pour it back into the can.
     
  23. HankB

    HankB Member

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    The top of my current loading bench has a 2x10 and a 2x12 side by side, with 3/4" plywood screwed to the top. Screw heads are countersunk and filled with plastic wood. I put a 1/4" thick strip of wood across the front to cover the seam between the 2x10 and the plywood; not necessary, but it finishes it off nicely. The whole top was given a couple of coats of clear Varathane Diamond polyurethane finish.

    Rest of the bench is 4x4s, 2x6's, 2x8's, and held together with 5/8" carriage bolts. Solid as heck, but if I ever have to, I can take it apart.
     
  24. Ol` Joe

    Ol` Joe Member

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    Sounds very similar to mine.
    http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d149/1Savage/bench2.jpg
     
  25. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Some ideas....

    • If you'll mount your press to an 18 x 18" piece of 3/4 plywood or 3/8 aluminum, then clamp that to the bench top, the load will be so displaced that you can reload on almost any table in the house. And by simply un-clamping, you can have your work bench space back for "honey-dos".

    • Before you spend all that time and money, run down to the local thrift store. I've seen those all steel government bureaucrat desks from the 1950's for $25. Those things are atomic bomb proof... and you'll get drawers for free.
     
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