Working on a reloading bench

For some time now I’ve been having fun experimenting with shotgun reloading and different combinations. But, since I am EXPERIMENTING using a bunch of different hulls, different wads, different powders, and even different case lengths and gauges, it is more than a little bit of a mess in the basement. My reloading table is about 6′ wide and already has my dillon 650, my single stage press, and my powder measure on it. It is a bit small to hold 3 more shotgun presses! It was great for what it was intended; my dad built it for me after I graduated from college and at that time I had only the dillon. He designed it so it wouldn’t take up too much room in an apartment and so it could fit through standard sized doors so I’d be able to use and move it. In the last 10 years though my reloading has expanded. So, its time to get some additional space built.

Looking for ideas I found this cool bench  that uses changeable inserts so things can be interchanged and stored out of the way when not in use. I thought that was a great idea, so right now I am in the middle of trying to make one myself. I imagine it will be a bit of a pain to get all the inserts made and working well, but in the end should be well worth it. If you have access to a table saw and radial arm saw I think you could make one pretty easily. My cuts with the circular saw are almost assuredly NOT straight, not perpendicular, not perfectly spaced, etc. If they were, an insert would be easy to make and would fit any slot. Since I am pretty sure they are NOT, well, I’ll likely have to fit each insert as the guy in that article did. No big deal though!

My bench is screwed into the wall and then plywood over the top, so it won’t be coming with me if we ever move. We don’t have any intentions of moving though, so if we change our minds and move in 5 years, I can spend another $90 in lumber  and another few hours to make another bench. Plus, at that time maybe I’ll have access to wood-working equipment so I can make it right. If I had such access I would make the bottom two layers 1.5″ shallower and then glue and screw a 2×6 into that (so the top layers would be on top of the 2×6 and the bottom two layers would be on the face of the 2×6, screw from the back face). Then legs I’d lag bolt from the top (and you can just make new legs if you ever needed to move it, they’d have to be custom cut each time since nothing is ever level). I’d cut the slots with a table saw or radial arm saw and make them very precise dimensions. The leftover scrap is about 11.5″ thick, you would then rip one piece of that to 11″ (to fit the bottom inserts which are 11″ wide) and the other piece rip to 9″ for the top inserts. Then you’d cut them to 8″ and 7″ deep respectively. With everything cut consistently the pieces would all fit together easily and interchangeably. With my proposed change to the top you’d just use concrete screws/anchors  through the bottom 4″ of the 2×6 to secure to the wall, make new legs, and then use angle brackets to secure the legs to the floor (to prevent any lifting, not that there is generally much pressure in that direction).

One difficulty I did run in to was securing the 2×6 to the wall. I was using 1/4″ blue tapcons and they kept twisting off, even when I KNOW the hole was deep enough. That is what I had handy though, so I used a few extras and went to the shorter pieces which don’t have as much embedment as I would like. I did end up getting one or two of the deeper ones installed though. Were this planned out a bit better I’d have used the beefier, more bolt-like 5/16 or 3/8″ tapcon bolts rather than the 1/4″ screw -like anchors.  I had some 3/8 ones one time I am pretty sure you’d only need 3 (and even then, that is for the board deflection, strength-wise 1 or 2 would be sufficient).

I did not put a leg in the middle yet, I don’t think it is NECESSARY, but what I may do is run a couple angled legs from the front to the floor in the back. That should be a bit more out of the way of legs, but even so, with my 150 pounds pushing on the bench it only deflects 1/4″ or so, and I don’t even have the top layer on yet. I also added a 3rd insert so I have more options. I’ll also probably add a rail on the wall so I can hang a bunch of akro bins to hold things like fully-prepped brass, bullets, small quantities of wads, buckshot, etc so it’ll all be fairly handy. That will keep me from bringing a couple of bags of wads over every time; hopefully resulting in a more organized working area.

I’ll still keep my small bench and move it over to this area so all my stuff is together and out of direct line of sight when somebody comes down to the basement. Ultimately I am wanting to wall off this section so I can secure it so when kids are over everything is out of access. Right now other kids are not allowed in the basement (not that they really need to be in the basement, but it would be additional peace of mind to make sure they cannot get to my area). I am holding off on that until I know exactly what I’m wanting to do there. Single door vs double french doors? Inward or outward swing? How to secure the drywall to make it a bit more secure from thieves? Etc etc etc. I figured organizing was a good first step though, I’d have to move everything to get a wall up so I may as well move it, make it easier to work, and make it look better. So that is where I am and what I’m doing lately. Oh, and getting out for a walk yesterday, who can believe 58 degrees in January in Michigan?!? The snow is nearly gone from the woods even! Next weekend is supposed to get back down to lows in the 20’s so the ice skating rink should freeze back over and things will feel a bit more normal.

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