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Old December 10, 2007, 10:58 PM   #1
Lee-Enfield
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Reloading bench - Critique my design please

I've been in need of a dedicated reloading bench and so have decided to build one myself.

It needs to be quite compact, the one I have designed has a desktop surface of 1200 x 800mm (1200 x 500 excluding the shelves). I've designed the bench in 3D modelling software so I can plan out every cut and join before I jump in the deep end, as they say, twice measured once cut! I've visited my local hardware supplier and taken measurement of their timber. So my plans are all to these sizes. The desk is a pine frame (70 x 70mm posts) with 20mm plywood for the table top and sides, so it's sure to be sturdy.

Here are some pictures of my plans so far...



This is a rendered version.



As you can see the middle shelf is dedicated to those plastic buckets, good for cases and bullets. The top shelf will hold my shooting books. I've put a rifle rest on the right side and a rod holder higher up. My press will be off to the right side, I'll clamp this in place until I'm certain of the exact placement before I mount it permanently.

I think I might put more draws in (make them skinnier).

Please share any criticism, advice or suggestions.
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Old December 10, 2007, 11:04 PM   #2
Wildalaska
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I use an old beat up desk, a set of plastic drawers and a Black and decker Workmate and you what criticism from me...???

Here, Ill tell ya what build one and send it to me...Ill tell you how much I like it and you will be so happy I can keep it.....

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Old December 10, 2007, 11:16 PM   #3
Lee-Enfield
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Well the point is I want a bench to last me a long long time, so any suggestions are helpful (except me sending you a prototype! ).
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Old December 10, 2007, 11:21 PM   #4
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You may want to plan some grow room on it.....I outgrew my first reloading bench because you always buy more stuff
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Old December 10, 2007, 11:22 PM   #5
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You may want to plan some grow room on it.....I outgrew my first reloading bench because you always buy more stuff I actually doubled the length.
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Old December 10, 2007, 11:34 PM   #6
mc223
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That bench is begging for a press.
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Old December 11, 2007, 12:50 AM   #7
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I don't know if it's available in your area but I just picked up a Kennedy 1550 Reloading table this weekend at Sportsman's Warehouse for $239 this weekend. If you can find one, it looks like it would be pretty close to your model but possibly with lower material and assembly costs.
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File Type: jpg ReloadingBench.jpg (26.8 KB, 213 views)
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Old December 11, 2007, 01:59 AM   #8
animal
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ugh! Metric system… ok now I have a calculator ….

Looks pretty darn good. You asked for suggestions so here goes:
Leg Room: Judging by the rifle rest to the right, I assume the press will be mounted on the front. If so, you won’t need that much leg/foot room under the bench so you can put a shelf or two down there for stuff you don’t use much. Chances are, to be comfortable working the arm of the press, you’ll end up backed away and sitting at about a 30 degree angle with your left knee under the bench. Anything more than room for the chair to slide into will probably be a waste of space.
Rifle rest: Looks really cool but I don’t know about using it when reloading. Then again, I’m really anal when it comes to imagining something vibrating against the finish of some rifles.
The drawers: Have you considered going full length ? I would probably make old fashioned wood runners lubricated with wax and talc (because I’m cheap). There are also side mount steel runner kits available that will go full length.
The top: I strongly suggest a raised edge around the perimeter to catch rolling things …especially if you are getting old (like me). I prefer a thicker top but if you use some nice big fender washers(better yet, a piece of plate steel a little larger than the base of your press and drilled to match it’s mounting holes) underneath when you mount the press, you should be ok. You might think of designing it so that you could add an additional layer of plywood to the top in case it flexes under strain.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m into overkill. My bench is a little larger than yours and built mostly out of 2"x8"lumber on a 4"x4" frame with an additional layer of ¼" plywood on the top(to have a smooth replaceable surface) and a beading around the perimeter to catch rolling things. It has 2 shelves above the top and one shelf below with no drawers. Progressive press is mounted on right side and a removable single stage press in the middle, and a MEC press on the left .
Where I screwed up: I built mine before the press arrived and wouldn't you know it ... one hole of the press lined up perfectly with a frame member underneath GRRRRR ! A lag screw kept backing out so I was forced to take a chisel to it to get a bolt in there.

Taking suggestions from others is a good precaution ... as long as you keep in mind it's your bench and build it the way you want it.
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Old December 11, 2007, 02:33 AM   #9
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If your staying compact space must be at a premium, so the bench may serve double duty. If you mount your press in a way that allows you to mount and un-mount it without ruining the top you can use it for other firearm related jobs or just mount other presses. Here is a pic of what I did to mount the presses I have that allow me to move them.

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old December 11, 2007, 04:25 AM   #10
Lee-Enfield
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eghad
You may want to plan some grow room on it.....I outgrew my first reloading bench because you always buy more stuff I actually doubled the length.
At the moment I only have space for a compact desk like this. I hear you though, when I move in to a bigger place I probably build another bench of the same style with cupboards beneath if I need more space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mc223
That bench is begging for a press.
Already got one with a set of dies waiting for this bench

Quote:
Originally Posted by computerguysd
I don't know if it's available in your area but I just picked up a Kennedy 1550 Reloading table this weekend at Sportsman's Warehouse for $239 this weekend. If you can find one, it looks like it would be pretty close to your model but possibly with lower material and assembly costs.
Looks nifty, I haven't seen it here, but I'm looking to DIY this one. I'm no woodworking expert, but it'll be good to make rounds on a set-up I also made

Quote:
Originally Posted by animal
Leg Room: Judging by the rifle rest to the right, I assume the press will be mounted on the front. If so, you won’t need that much leg/foot room under the bench so you can put a shelf or two down there for stuff you don’t use much. Chances are, to be comfortable working the arm of the press, you’ll end up backed away and sitting at about a 30 degree angle with your left knee under the bench. Anything more than room for the chair to slide into will probably be a waste of space.
Shelves at the back underneath is an excellent idea! An extra storage space will help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by animal
Rifle rest: Looks really cool but I don’t know about using it when reloading. Then again, I’m really anal when it comes to imagining something vibrating against the finish of some rifles.
The rifle rests are pine, with the rests cut out with a hole-saw. A leather strip is then run across the whole thing so the rifle only touches leather. That way there is no wood on wood scratching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by animal
The drawers: Have you considered going full length ? I would probably make old fashioned wood runners lubricated with wax and talc (because I’m cheap). There are also side mount steel runner kits available that will go full length.
The draws are 450mm deep (about 18"). This is the longest rails I could find at the hardware shop capable of holding 40kgs (88 pounds). I think I'll stick with these rails as they will allow the entire draw to extend, without tipping. I'm considering making the top three draws more shallow so I can fit an extra one in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by animal
The top: I strongly suggest a raised edge around the perimeter to catch rolling things …especially if you are getting old (like me). I prefer a thicker top but if you use some nice big fender washers(better yet, a piece of plate steel a little larger than the base of your press and drilled to match it’s mounting holes) underneath when you mount the press, you should be ok. You might think of designing it so that you could add an additional layer of plywood to the top in case it flexes under strain.
I thought of having a raised edge, I'm still mulling that one over, if I do it'll be some slightly raised flashing around the edges. I have a few carpet tiles that I can throw on the table top to stop bits and pieces rolling around, so that may suffice. As far as the top flexing, I don't think that will be an issue. The 20mm plywood top sits on a sturdy frame and there is also a support beam that runs across the middle to stop the centre flexing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by animal
If you haven’t guessed, I’m into overkill. My bench is a little larger than yours and built mostly out of 2"x8"lumber on a 4"x4" frame with an additional layer of ¼" plywood on the top(to have a smooth replaceable surface) and a beading around the perimeter to catch rolling things. It has 2 shelves above the top and one shelf below with no drawers. Progressive press is mounted on right side and a removable single stage press in the middle, and a MEC press on the left.

Where I screwed up: I built mine before the press arrived and wouldn't you know it ... one hole of the press lined up perfectly with a frame member underneath GRRRRR ! A lag screw kept backing out so I was forced to take a chisel to it to get a bolt in there.

Taking suggestions from others is a good precaution ... as long as you keep in mind it's your bench and build it the way you want it.
Exactly! This will be built to last. I'm hoping exposing my plans here will help remind me of anything I've missed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by donttellthewife
If your staying compact space must be at a premium, so the bench may serve double duty. If you mount your press in a way that allows you to mount and un-mount it without ruining the top you can use it for other firearm related jobs or just mount other presses. Here is a pic of what I did to mount the presses I have that allow me to move them.
Looks like an effective solution. Do they sit there on their own weight? Or are they bolted or clamped? I'll use my bench for cleaning my rifles also. I'll have my press clamped in place for a while until I'm happy with an exact position. If it's in the way when cleaning rifles etc, then I'll look at a similar system to yours I think.
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Old December 11, 2007, 04:39 AM   #11
animal
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donttellthewife’s mounting system is SWEET ! In addition to swapping out presses and giving you the ability to clear off the top, it also distributes the force across the entire depth of the bench. If you use it you can be guaranteed to have no flexing of the top.
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Old December 11, 2007, 08:51 AM   #12
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While you can't have too much storage space, those drawers under the table top would get in my way the way I sit at the bench. I am right handed so I sit to the left of the press kinda at an angle.

Other than that it is a jam up bench.

For what its worth I bolted all my presses to a piece of 1/2" aluminum about 5" x 7" and then bolted that to the table so as to clear the braces in the table. Where ever you put the press make certain you have LOTS of support under it. You don't want the press rocking when you pull on the handle.

We want to see a picture when you get r done.
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Old December 11, 2007, 09:29 AM   #13
Jim Watson
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It is probably deeper front-to-back than it needs to be. The back 1/3 of my purpose built bench, the back half of my old desk, mostly accumulate junk and do not forward the reloading process. If your floorspace allows, I would build wider but shallower.
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Old December 11, 2007, 02:27 PM   #14
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Like Jim said.

My reloading setup is also space limited. It is roughly 30" x 30 " (approx 76 cm x 76 cm). I have two RCBS single stage presses mounted side by side with an RCBS powder measure mounted beside those, all on a double thickness of 3/4" plywood (roughly 38 mm thick). The presses and powder measure actually only take up about 60% of the front, so there is room to set a bucket of bullets to the left, the loading block to the right and room to set the scale up behind the presses (I double check the powder measure every 10-15 powder drops). Of my actual table top, I don't really use the back half, other than as a place to store empty coffee cans and cottage cheese containers. That said, I probably wouldn't make mine much shorter in depth, but only because I would be concerned about possibly tipping it when running the press. But that's my bench, which is quite lightweight, compared to your plans. My father has a bench that is only about 20" deep, but is extremely heavy, with a 2" thick top. He built it around 45 years ago, and it's still as strong now as it was when I learned on it some 30 odd years ago.
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Old December 11, 2007, 02:40 PM   #15
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Nice modeling job! The Kennedy unit looks pretty good and likely cheaper, but sometimes, ya just gotta do some things yourself. Looks like you got some good advice here and I’m looking forward to seeing the photos.
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Old December 11, 2007, 02:47 PM   #16
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I think it should work very nice. I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the one you build.
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Old December 11, 2007, 08:37 PM   #17
donttellthewife
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Quote:
Looks like an effective solution. Do they sit there on their own weight? Or are they bolted or clamped?
The angle metal on the back of the bench is permantly mounted to the back wall so that a 2x4 or 2x12 will just fit under it. The angel metal on the mounting block is pemantly mounted to the underside of it. There are screws that go into the front edge of the bench that hold it in place. The system works well, deminsions and material could be changed to suit your needs.

I would screw bench to the wall however it's made to avoid shaking.
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Old December 11, 2007, 10:10 PM   #18
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The design looks great. But be sure to make that puppy as big as your planned space will allow, especially the upper shelves. Or at least make it easy to add on to. My first bench was an old desk, about 3 ft by 4 ft on top. My bench top is now 3 ft deep and nearly 9 ft wide (L-shaped countertop from Home Depot) , with five full width shelves above it. I scavenged three large kitchen cabinets to set the whole thing on and they are full too.
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Old December 12, 2007, 08:24 AM   #19
Lee-Enfield
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Lots of great ideas and suggestions, thanks very much

I've revised my design, and made a few changes:
  • Desk top depth is now 700mm, not 800 (I found that this will suit the space better).
  • Made top draws skinnier and fit another in. I also took out the lost space so they all stack up nice and close.
  • Added shelving underneath in 'foot area'. It's a deep desk, so there's still plenty of space. The shelves will slide out if needed, so they aren't permanent, just in case I need to stack something up under there or I kick it too much. The lowest shelf is 300mm from ground, this will allow me to slide my wooden shooting chest under there.
  • Extra support beam running under the bench top, just for the hell of it. This should be earthquake proof



...And here's the render... You can see the rifle rests on the right a little clearer with the leather strip to protect from rubbing. This and the rod holder are removable (wing-nuts), just in case.



When I move into a bigger house (one with a dedicated gun room or decent garage), I'll build more bench space to go next to this. If this was any bigger, it wouldn't fit in my house!

Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions. I'll be building this after Christmas, so I have plenty of time to sleep on this design and mull it over, let me know if you have any other suggestions.
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Old December 12, 2007, 08:54 AM   #20
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Nice model, what did you use 3D Studio?
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Old December 12, 2007, 09:04 AM   #21
Lee-Enfield
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Rhino 4.0
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Old December 12, 2007, 02:00 PM   #22
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Didn't read through all the replies, so if this is redundant, sorry. Anyhoo, if you are planning on sitting at this bench, you might want to give yourself more knee room. My bench is a quick and dirty affair, with two 4x4s supporting a 4'x2.5' x 1.5" plywood top hinged to a concrete half wall, so it could be lifted up out of the way. Turns out all that room underneath has been the biggest advantage of my 'design', as I sit on a stool most of the time. Should I ever build a proper bench along the lines you show, I would omit the drawers on the side front, moving them above or around to the side. Just my .02.
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Old December 12, 2007, 07:28 PM   #23
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Hello Lee..


Nice design

Sometimes its more perferable to stand when reloading or tinkering, So my bench is tall and comfortable for me to stand. When I want to sit I have a couple of 1950's era science lab stools with a back support.

Peace
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Old December 12, 2007, 08:45 PM   #24
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Nice design... a couple more thoughts to mull over.

If you will have access to the left end, some older desks I've seen had a cabinet door and shelves in the end, behind the drawers. That would help make use of that empty volume. For simplicity, they could be open shelves, or just one shelf to store a press while it's not on the benchtop.

If you put backs on the shelves below, they could be put on drawer slides and slid forward to allow easier access.

Reloading gear can get pretty heavy; you might want to think about a middle leg in the rear behind the front one, to take some of the load from the top and drawers (particularly if you put shelves behind there accessible from the left end)

I would be really nervous about rifles leaned up against the end of the bench, where they could be knocked over while working on something else. Maybe add a leather keeper strap or leather faced bar that pivots upward at the rear to hold them in place or allow removal of guns from the rack. Same with rods.

Think about a small to medium sized vise, mounted similarly to the press(es), for those times when you need to hold the work with your third hand.

Andy
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Old December 12, 2007, 09:08 PM   #25
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Give yourself a little overhang of the top over the front of the frame. If you don't, you'll likely have clearance issues when working the press.
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