Layout and construction
Last week I started part 1 of the Ultimate Reloading Bench series where I explained how I started out with a single stage press on an old rickety door and quickly discovered that I simply couldn’t create quality handloads or keep all of my gear organized without taking a step back, getting organized and building a purpose built bench to meet my needs. I came up with a “zone” system which dedicated a section of my workspace to a specific purpose. Once I had defined all of the zones I required I thought about how I would layout all of the zones on the bench to give me the most efficient workflow. After quite a bit of thought I finally decided on all of the zones I needed and in what order I should place them on the bench. Next I had to decide on the height of the bench. I can spend many hours at a time working on my systems and reloading so I put a premium on ergonomics since I don’t want to wind up with any of the nasty repetitive stress injuries I hear the old timers talking about in the forums. I like to stand when I run my presses or clean and maintain my firearms so I wanted it to be high enough that I wouldn’t have to lean over to work. I had a specific height in mind and as luck would have it there is a concrete ledge in my garage that was just about perfect to mount the back side of my bench to. Next I determined how long it would need to be with all of the zones I desired on the bench. Since the sheets of plywood I planned on using are eight feet long I figured I would need two of them to accommodate my personal zone plan. That’s right. It’s going to be 16 feet long!
Knowing that most of my powder throw issues as well as some of my problems with how my progressive press was running was due to it wobbling, so I decided that this bench had to be built with an emphasis on stability. Therefore I decided, with the assistance of a friend who was a contractor, how it would be constructed as well as the materials that were selected. We went with inch and a quarter thick plywood for the benchtop, 2x8s for the bracing, and 4x4s for all of the legs that would support it. Of course the benchtop would be screwed directly to the cement footer in my garage as well as the 4×4 legs which were bolted to the cement floor. Every thing else was lagged and bolted to ensure nothing I did could affect the stability of the surface. Once the plan was set and the lumber was purchased it was only a few hours before my Ultimate Workbench started to take shape in my garage.
The wire shelves that used to be the main “supports” for my old door benchtop were repurposed and placed underneath my new bench to hold all of my supplies like primers, bullets, powders, dies, and ammo boxes. I also wanted some type of shelves over bench to keep firearms cleaners/lubricants/patches within an arm’s reach of my gun maintenance zone so I installed a simple wire shelf unit to store all of my supplies.
Finally I’m now ready to mount all of my presses and tooling to my new workspace. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Ultimate Reloading Bench where I talk about mounting my presses and all of the gear that is required for proper reloading and gun care.