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KPEngineer

Building My First Reloading/Workbench

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I appreciate everyone's feedback on here, as you guys have way more time spent at the reloading bench than I'll ever have.  

 

I'm building my first bench over the next several days, once I get some surgery out of the way tomorrow, and I'm looking for any suggestions before I set out to pick up lumber and fasteners.  Looking to use 4x4's for legs, 2x6's for the transverse & longitudinal outboard pieces in the benchtop frame, and 2x4's for the top joists and entire lower storage frame. The upper and lower frames will each be screwed into a respective 2x4 spanning the studs in garage.

 

The finished dimensions are to be as follows:

Length: 72"

Height: 39" +/- (I'm just shy of 6'0" if that helps)

Depth: 30.5"

 

As for the top, I may have found a local source for a solid wood core door that I can cut to fit my frame. That seems like a much better option than gluing and screwing a couple of 3/4" sheets of plywood--and also less expensive. The door is only $50, and I can probably offer less. Please share any suggestions you have.

 

Finally, what is the best way to build the top frame of the bench such that I have support and room to fasten a vise and a couple of presses? Anyone gluing in mounting blocks underneath, between the joists, or just anchoring equipment straight into the top? Here are some crappy screenshots of my model in Sketchup. I left out the 2x4 joists in the top to keep from cluttering the drawing.

 

9bzWKXj.jpg

LGugc6L.jpg

 

Thanks guys!

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might be just me, but a 39" tall bench is very high. id mock up your press/presses on something to make sure operating them is going to be comfortable at that height.

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Thank you for the feedback.  My main concern was making it a comfortable height for standing.  I always find myself standing when I'm working on guns--even working with small parts--and it brings the work closer to my eyes without having to bend my neck.  Herniated a disc several years ago and I get a stiff neck after awhile.  

 

Do you stand or sit while you're throwing the arm on the press?  If you have a Dillon or similar unit, how high off the bench is the handle?  I figure I can get a sturdy, adjustable stool if I decide I'd rather sit down, but I can't really help myself on the other hand if my bench is too low. 

 

 

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I agree the 39" is pretty tall I am 6' 3" and my wood working bench is 36" and the reloading bench is 34" but I sit on a tall shop stool while reloading.  The old rule of thumb I was taught was the top of the bench should be the same height as your knuckles when standing and arms hanging at your sides.  The theory is that way you don't stoop over to work and everything can be accomplished with a slight bend of the elbow.   

 

But if you design the bench right and you decide it is too tall it is real easy to cut an inch or two off but damn hard to add an inch or two.  

Edited by Rustygun

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Thanks Rusty. Do you have a Dillon & strong mount by any chance? I intend to mount one with a roller handle, and I'm wondering what height that handle will be off the bench top

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Which press are you going to run?

 

I built my bench as tall as possible for a 6’0” operator to load while standing, and it’s pretty much perfect with a 650 in a strong mount on top of it.

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The top of my bench is 41". I use a 650 with a strong mount. Puts bottom of roller handle 55 1/2" above ground level. I'm between 5-10 & 5-11 depending on which liquor store I'm fleeing. I made mine a bit on the tall side as I like to stand while I load. I tend to move around a lot. When I do sit I bring in a tall chair from the deck and although it's comfortable for me both ways, I prefer to stand. 

 

I should add that at work we had very tall work benches in our lab. This is just what I'm accustomed to and I'm sure it would be tall for most people. 

 

Like Rusty said, would be easier to go a bit lower after the fact. 

Edited by Part_time_redneck
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My bench is exactly 39" and I can load comfortably either standing or sitting on a 30" stool.

 

The grip on a 650/strong mount roller handle is 15" above the bench when the handle is up.

 

I'm 6'5".

Edited by TDA

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53 minutes ago, MemphisMechanic said:

Which press are you going to run?

 

I built my bench as tall as possible for a 6’0” operator to load while standing, and it’s pretty much perfect with a 650 in a strong mount on top of it.

I'll be looking to get a 650 with strong mount once I have the bench finished.  Other than that, I'll have a vise and a Redding Big Boss for the bolt guns

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20 minutes ago, TDA said:

My bench is exactly 39" and I can load comfortably either standing or sitting on a 30" stool.

 

The grip on a 650/strong mount roller handle is 15" above the bench when the handle is up.

 

I'm 6'5".

Thank you, sir.  A bit taller than I am, so I'll take this into consideration.  Thanks for the measurement!

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41 minutes ago, Part_time_redneck said:

The top of my bench is 41". I use a 650 with a strong mount. Puts bottom of roller handle 55 1/2" above ground level. I'm between 5-10 & 5-11 depending on which liquor store I'm fleeing. I made mine a bit on the tall side as I like to stand while I load. I tend to move around a lot. When I do sit I bring in a tall chair from the deck and although it's comfortable for me both ways, I prefer to stand. 

 

I should add that at work we had very tall work benches in our lab. This is just what I'm accustomed to and I'm sure it would be tall for most people. 

 

Like Rusty said, would be easier to go a bit lower after the fact. 

I like to stand as well.  I work on ships and I never find myself sitting down while at the bench.  When I'm home, even working on small detailed parts I think I get too engrossed in the project to sit down.  The option of sitting is nice, so I may have to make a compromise by bringing the height down and finding a good tall stool to sit on when I feel it's necessary.

 

I've never loaded on a progressive so I can't say whether I'd eventually prefer to stand or sit, but if I'm constantly paying attention to the powder charge and general operation I can see myself standing for that. 

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KP,   I'm 6' and reload standing.  I use a Hornady Lock n Load progressive.  My bench top is at 36.75 and I use the Inline Fabrication bench top press mount. It adds another 9.5 inches to the base of the press.   Using the factory Hornady press handle (not the extended aftermarket), this is a comfortable standing height for reloading.

 

Just another data point. Hope it helps.

   

Edited by jwhittin
spelling

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One big point, OK two, make so it is comfortable standing. You can always find a stool to fit. Make sure, if you can, to bolt it to the wall. Solid bench and you will have less little problems.

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On 9/21/2017 at 5:24 AM, KPEngineer said:

I appreciate everyone's feedback on here, as you guys have way more time spent at the reloading bench than I'll ever have.  

 

I'm building my first bench over the next several days, once I get some surgery out of the way tomorrow, and I'm looking for any suggestions before I set out to pick up lumber and fasteners.  Looking to use 4x4's for legs, 2x6's for the transverse & longitudinal outboard pieces in the benchtop frame, and 2x4's for the top joists and entire lower storage frame. The upper and lower frames will each be screwed into a respective 2x4 spanning the studs in garage.

 

The finished dimensions are to be as follows:

Length: 72"

Height: 39" +/- (I'm just shy of 6'0" if that helps)

Depth: 30.5"

 

As for the top, I may have found a local source for a solid wood core door that I can cut to fit my frame. That seems like a much better option than gluing and screwing a couple of 3/4" sheets of plywood--and also less expensive. The door is only $50, and I can probably offer less. Please share any suggestions you have.

 

Finally, what is the best way to build the top frame of the bench such that I have support and room to fasten a vise and a couple of presses? Anyone gluing in mounting blocks underneath, between the joists, or just anchoring equipment straight into the top? Here are some crappy screenshots of my model in Sketchup. I left out the 2x4 joists in the top to keep from cluttering the drawing.

 

9bzWKXj.jpg

LGugc6L.jpg

 

Thanks guys!

That looks like a strong/sturdy design. 

 

I just built a bench and made it 39" high as well. I'm 5'11" and the height seems perfect to me so far. I also used Simpson strong ties. The brackets make the bench extremely sturdy and easy to square. Also was much faster than building it without the brackets. 

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one suggestion is to drop the lower shelf flush with the floor and extend it out flush with the front legs

like the others have said, a solid bench is a must, I've got mine set up this way and store all the heavy stuff we use in the sport, bullets, tool boxes etc, and it doesn't move at all when I reload.

also it might be over kill but under my bench top where the press is mounted, I have 2 4x4's going across and my press is mounted to that.

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If you leave the lower shelf as is put a couple of pieces of doubled up 2 X 4's to support the shelf.  Heavy weight on it will make it sag. 

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While I was building the lower shelf I decided to bring the front 2x4 inside of the front legs, similar to what rishii had suggested. Obviously added shelf space, but it more importantly added rigidity. I originally wanted to keep my shins clear of the shelf while standing against the bench, but even having moved the shelf to the inside of the legs seems to provide that clearance. I kept the shelf off the floor just high enough to slide plastic boxes underneath for storage if needed, rather than having excessive overhead on the shelf itself.

 

I'll post pics soon, but I'm just about ready to sand the bottom of the legs to get them fitted to the garage floor, then I'll sand/level the top frame before fitting an appropriate benchtop. I think I'll be adding a rubber material to the bottom of the legs for a better fit to the cement floor, as it'll be an insulating layer and take up any slop. It's probably overkill but I'm being meticulous about the whole project. I appreciate all of your suggestions thus far

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On 10/4/2017 at 11:43 PM, Trini said:

If you leave the lower shelf as is put a couple of pieces of doubled up 2 X 4's to support the shelf.  Heavy weight on it will make it sag. 

I have leftover 4x4 from when I cut the legs. These will be perfect to cut and slide under the lower shelf for extra support once it starts getting loaded down

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Use lag bolts for construction when possible.  Use screws rather than nails when able as well.  Will help when you need to take it apart and move it somewhere.  If you use nails, it's going to be ruined if you ever have to take it apart.

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I guess this thread is useless without pictures.

 

fvHW5bq.jpg

 

yXJYGZ0.jpg

 

1bKdxT7.jpg

 

G8cINbU.jpg

 

L2ZzF7V.jpg

 

The bench has been finished for awhile, but I recently acquired an old 550 to overhaul--hence the temporary clamps.  Tearing it down and putting it back together was a great way to learn about the machine before I start putting it to work. 

Edited by KPEngineer

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Your bench looks great but has one major flaw - it's not long enough.  Trust me, after awhile, you'll discover what I mean.  :lol:

 

It looks from the pictures like you secured it to the wall of the garage - that is a good move and with any brand of progressive, a rock solid platform will give you best results.  It also will help dampen vibration that can throw off a powder scale.

 

Nice job!

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ignore the man behind the curtain. lol you could start with a 20 foot long bench and it eventually wont be long enough.  i agree with Tom S. after a while you will want longer. 

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Thanks guys.  I would have made the bench about 3x the length, but I had to compromise. It's a small garage in a townhome and it won't be my home for many years. I also need some room along the side for an air compressor. 

 

Finished length of the top came out to somewhere around 76", and it's plenty deep with that ~2" overhang I left on the front various projects requiring clamps. 

 

As this was my first real wood project, I did learn a lot. I mostly learned as I went, made mistakes and corrected them when I wasn't 100% happy, and made sure I considered everyone's input in this thread. I also considered various scenarios I'd run into while using the bench, and tried to avoid as many future regrets as I could.

 

As many have stressed, always plan to anchor your bench into the structure where you can. It makes the world of difference as far as rigidity. It really breaks my heart to see a flimsy foundation for presses and vises where the tools work against you.  On that subject, a solid wood core commercial interior door makes for an awesome benchtop if anyone's on a budget. It's smooth, straight, rigid, easily replaceable, and far cheaper than two sheets of plywood glued and screwed together. 

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