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Reloading bench question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by pgohil, Jan 23, 2020.

  1. pgohil

    pgohil Member

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    Again, brand new reloader. Zero experience. Getting plans together to build my first reloading bench. I was thinking about having a quarter inch raised lip all around the edge to help keep small things from sliding off. Is this necessary?

    Secondly, how silky smooth should the main surface be? Right now my plan is 3/4 OSB with polyurethane on it. I thought about adding a thin piece of white board on top that would be extremely slick and make everything very easy to see but don't know if that would be a help or not

    Sure do appreciate everyone's help.

    PGohil
    WV
     
  2. 748

    748 Member

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    If you are going to put a press on it 3/4 inch ply wood will bend like paper when you try to full length size anything that is a rifle case.
    Use 2x6 and 2 layers of ply wood.

    I used rough cut oak 2x8 such as would be used on a wood tractor trailer flat bed on top of 2x6 finished building lumber screwed to the wall in the corner with lag bolts at each stud then wedge anchored the free corner to the floor. The press doesn't move the table.
     
    stillquietvoice likes this.
  3. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    Like said you want a top that will not flex under load. Normally 2 sheets of 3/4" ply wood glued & screwed together does a very nice job. I put a sheet of 1/4" hard mansonite on top to make it easy to clean. The polyurethane will work just fine. You should not need the lip, would interfere with the press mounted on the edge.
     
  4. mrawesome22-250

    mrawesome22-250 Member

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    2 layers of 5/8" plywood would be my recommendation. Put a joist close to each side of the press bolts.

    As many layers of oil based poly as you see fit.

    I recently built a riser for my press that is the perfect height for me to stand and load. Sitting and loading was ruining my back. Should have done that years ago.
     
  5. Starter52

    Starter52 Member

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    I'm another long-time reloader who prefers to stand. My press is mounted 36" off the floor. Perfect for me.
     
  6. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    If your going with one of the Inline Fabrication mounting systems that spreads the load out you may get by with just one layer. I know the ones that raise the press off the bench really spreads out the load over a large area. The low profile one is best when done on a 2 layer thick bench top. It's foot print is a smaller than the risers ones.
     
  7. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The last one I built only has an 1/8” thick top but has a truss that runs the perimeter and cross braces where the presses mount, all steel, more than ridged enough for reloading.

    I also only made it 18 inches deep to avoid stacking lots of stuff behind the presses.
     
  8. frankmako

    frankmako Member

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    make the bench as heavy/strong as you can. mount the bench to the wall will also help. you don't want any flex in the bench. the lip will be nice on three sides. it will get in the way on the front. make the bench higher than normal. when you get the size of the bench layed out, then super size it. go as big (wide/long) as you can. for the top you can do many things, just remember you will be drilling holes in the top to mount things.
     
  9. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I like the white board top to see everything that drops, I used 2 layers of plywood glued and screwed from the bottom then 2 or 3 coats of poly, the lip sounds like a good idea but you will have to trim it for the press and it will make it harder to clean your top.
    Start with something sturdy or build it sturdy, attach it to the wall, find the stool or chair you will be using to figure out how high to make it. Shelf space is nice but allow space for your legs while trimming and preparing brass. I use filing cabinets to store things, 2 short ones with a top makes a good light duty bench for brass prep.
     
  10. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    I make separate stands out of plywood for my single stage and Dillon presses. This allows me to slide them around the bench and clamp in place with some C clamps for use. The Gladiator bench setup is a nice ready-to-go one, but I also made a nice bench out of a discarded butcher-block style table top, set on Gladiator base cabinets. Check craigslist and the like for those. If I were to build one from scratch, I'd use 4x4 legs, 2x4 supports and a 3/4" ply top with 2x4 supports underneath as framing to reduce flex. For a top... I kind of like Masonite - the smooth brown stuff. Raised edges on the sides and back will keep stuff from rolling off, but no raised edge on the front - not only do I clamp presses there, but it hinders cleanup.
     
  11. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    Like this: IMG_0432.jpg
     
  12. pgohil

    pgohil Member

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    Yes, I assure you it will build so sturdy you can park a pickup on it and not move anything. My plan was to trim the lip so the press sat flat But it doesn't seem like that the lip is necessary.
    I have some extra four by fours I will be using for the two front legs and it will be lag bolted to the wall. There will be braces underneath that will take all flex out of it for sure. As a general rule OSB does not flex like plywood. However, with that being said I will add another layer, as the expense is not that much.

    Thanks!
     
  13. pert near

    pert near Member

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    My bench is made of 2 - 2"x12"s & 1-2"x8" then covered with a sheet of 1/8" masonite (not glued down). When the surface gets too ugly the masonite can easily be replaced. The idea of making the edges so something won't roll off is good, but you don't want a 1/4" lip because the edge needs to be flat to easily mount things. A shallow groove routed all around is a better idea.

    FWIW
     
  14. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    Pgohil - sounds like a plan. You can even glue the masonite down and when it's worn out, just glue another one on top. Nice idea on the groove too. Post a photo when it's done!
     
    stillquietvoice likes this.
  15. pert near

    pert near Member

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    For certain operations I like my press elevated & extended to be more accessible when doing a lot of repetitive operations like bullet swaging or de-capping a large volume of cases. I bought a spare tire mount on Amazon for $13 (delivered), drilled a few holes & no more craned neck & sore shoulders!

    Snap4-6.jpg

    press-lift.jpg

    FWIW
     
  16. SlowFuse

    SlowFuse Member

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    +1 on this, make it bigger than you think you need if you have the room.

    My first bench was an existing workbench in a tack room that was only about 3 feet long, 2.5 feet deep. Top was made of OSB that I ended up reinforcing underneath with boards where I mounted my press to reduce flex. I got by on it but would not recommend that material. If you're on a budget I think lining up 2x4's across your bench-top would be a better option than cheap plywood, something I've thought about for a smaller bench. Then if you don't like the gaps cover it with thin board of some sort. On a large bench the 2x4's may become cost prohibitive vs just buying decent plywood.

    I have a bench now thats better built and almost 3 times the length, not as deep. I have a double layer of the 5/8" sanded pine type plywood glued and screwed together. You'll find that if you buy the standard 4'x8' sized plywood sheet and cut it in half it works just right to make a 8 foot long bench thats two feet deep. I used 1/2" quarter round trim on the sides, wasn't necessary on the back because its pulled tight/anchored to the wall with no gap, in the front as already said would just be more irritating than helpful. I had a scrap rectangle sheet about 2.5 ft long of something similar to Formica that I thought would be good to move around to the area I was working on, very smooth surface. Things rolled around too much for my liking and quit using it, but cleanup was easy. I think something like a smooth hardboard paneling might be a decent surface, but no polished/slippery surface for me. Everyone's different on what works for them. The plywood surface (not osb) works for my use.

    Also, if this is your only work bench you may consider making the presses removable. I have wingnuts on the bolts that I can easily undo by hand, no tools needed to remove presses, powder measure etc. When removed from the bench you have a completely flat surface if you need to work on something that takes some space. Presses etc. get temporarily clamped to a shelf until I want to put them back. I imagine though this would be tough with a progressive that has all the bells and whistles. Probably want to leave that one alone.
     
  17. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    Just a thought about putting a lip around the bench. Its inevitable that you will spill some powder from time to time. Its nice to get a card or something and be able to scrape it off into you hand or the garbage. A lip will prevent that. I have a piece of white board in my main working area and like it.
     
  18. 1-12 INF (M)

    1-12 INF (M) Member

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    I mount my progressives on moveable boards too. IMG_0429.jpg
     
  19. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Not to mention not all presses are built the same so if you build a bench for one thing then later mount something else on it, it might not “fit” you right. that’s why I have an adjustable height chair in my reloading room.
     
  20. hk940

    hk940 Member

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    I like to stand as well, Made a bench out of a solid core door 1 1/2" thick 36"x80". if you have a wood or block wall lag a piece of 3" angle iron to it. I used 2" black pipe cut and threaded for a pipe flange on each end and screwed it to the bottom of the door and lag bolted it the the concrete floor. You could resize .50BMG with out flex.
    I picked up my door at an old lumber/millwork yard. it has some small dings that would make it hard to sell as a door. i got it for $15.00
     
  21. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    It you build a frame with a triple 2x4 or 2X6 torsion beam under it...... a single 3/4" plywood top won't bend period. I furnished the following plans THR a couple of years ago that you can download if you are interested....not only is it strong as steel it is cheaper than just about any other method.

    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?resources/inexpensive-no-flex-bench-how-to.6/

    As my bench picture in that thread shows it has a wood edge added in front of the beam and top......you could prevent rolling bullets, primers or anything else you spill from rolling off if you raise that edge 1/8". 1/4" is more than I'd personally like.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
  22. George P

    George P Member

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    Inline Fabrication risers help keep the need for a massive thick top edge to a minimal
     
  23. Gumby0961
    • Contributing Member

    Gumby0961 Contributing Member

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    I have all my presses mounted on a 1inch thick piece of solid maple. They can be attached either with clamps or 1 5/16th bolt. This one also has an extra turret stand, most commonly used allen wrenches attached to it. I get no flex. (Trying to keep mess out of pic) 1579830772939342869878588349221.jpg
     
  24. Archie

    Archie Member

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    I made a bench and set it as level as I could. Cases and 'stuff' roll off anyway. Perhaps some smaller 'Tupperware' material trays or boxes? Cleaning spilled power sounds reasonable and the shop vac is contraindicated. I made my bench like a work bench. 4x4 legs, 2x12 top (two of them side by side, 24' out from wall) and 2x4 bracing and cross members. Then screwed it to wall. I may add shelves to the big open spaces for storage of ammo boxes and note pads and such.
     
  25. joneb

    joneb Member

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    I would not use OSB, cabinet grade appleply or baltic birch will be stronger and less compressible. I would use two layers of 3/4" ply under the press.
    White board is not durable.
    You could do a edge molding with a 22 degree slope to create a curb, but I don't think it is necessary if your bench is level front to back and side to side.
     
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