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Thread: Building new bench top, ideas?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Building new bench top, ideas?

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    There are the pictures and this shows how the bench has progressed. Picture one shows the original setup I was using and that bench top is a High Density laminate Formica covered industrial desk top I salvaged. It is very heavy and very stiff, also it is 1.250" thick. Thing is I do not want to continue using it and gutting it up or drilling holes all over it.

    Picture 2 and 3 show the bench with the salvaged cabinets I scrounged for Free. Picture 2 show it with the old desk still under the top which was removed in picture 3. and is how I would prefer to keep this set up.

    Picture 4 shows the temporary top I put together to mount the new Auto Breech Lock Pro and that it was just bolted to a pcs of 3/4" ply and then attached to the cabinet. Problem is I am still getting some flex and movement in the top while working the press. Don't like that! Besides I would like to move it down to the other position and make it swap-able with either the Pro1000 or the Turret press. depending on which I am using.

    So the other day I was able to pick up a pcs of plate steel 16"X10"X3/8" that I want to drill/tap and use as my press mount base. Thing is that I want to keep this flush. Now my thoughts are this; overall size will be 4'X2'X?. Thinking tat 2 pcs. of 1/2" ply laminated together to 1" with the plate steel then fastened to that and then fitted with a pcs. of 3/8" ply to make it all flush.

    So again I am open to suggestions or improvements to these ideas.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    You might try to guess how much your reloading habit will grow in the years to come.
    The first 20 years mine did not grow very fast. I was busy working, going to college and raising kids.
    My equipment and component collection has greatly increased over the last 20 years and it takes up a lot more space. I resize and form a lot of odd ball cases so I need a heavy press on a heavy work bench.

    I have 2 old industrial work benches from a medical implant manufacturer. The tops are 30"X 8 ft that is 2" thick particle board covered with formica. The benches were discarded because the metal legs were set at each end. The result was the tops sagged down in the middle between 1 and 2 inches.
    I took a good look at the legs and found an identical pair at Home Depot. I put a new leg under the middle of each table and the table weight over time bent the tops back to straight. The tables are more than heavy enough. The added leg increased the rigidity of the tables. All I can say is try to look into your crystal ball and guess how much space you will need in the future. Then build your work table large and heavy.
    EDG

  3. #3
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Look at used solid core doors, it appears that you are not adverse to used/recycled materials. Some of the older institutional doors were incredibly strong. They are usually available at the Habitat for Humanity stores around here for not much money. Good ones will have a nice veneer face. I would look at mortising the steel into the face as opposed to laying on top. I suspect that you could find a Craigslist/pawn shop router for cheap money.

    I mortised a 1/2"x6"x18" steel plate into my bench with an identical plate underneath as backer years ago. It currently has drilled and tapped holes for: RCBS Rockchucker, bench primer, powder stand, lubrisizer, trimmer, Lyman T-Mag, case trimmer, Mec 600Jr, super 600, 650, 9000G, P-W 800B, Dillon Square Deal-B, RL550 plus some other stuff that has left the building. It looks like swiss cheese but I get zero flex when sizing silly things like 416 Rigby and 470 N.E.


    Mine is mortised into a 2x8 plank bench that is attached to the 4x6 posts that are the framework of the shop. If I were to do it over again I'd be looking for a OLD solid door.
    The newer solid core doors are particle/wafer board. I don't think they are anywhere near as solid/rigid/durable.

    That is what I put my South Bend lathe on when I got that, it's as solid as I need it.

    Don't underestimate the mounting of the top to the cabinets. Beefier the better.

    And make sure you have adequate backing underneath, this is not the place for wood screws from the top, you want through bolts.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    No need to guess. I have reach the pinnacle already. All I reload is handgun and have zero interest in bottlenecks. At 66 and disabled there is no going into the woods for a hunt any more. Also there is another bench and a computer desk in the room.

    What I have now, space wise works very well and the only reason for the change is the makeup of the top and adding this steel plate to facilitate the removal and ability to swap presses using round button head allen bolts. My real concern is 1/2" ply doubled up going to be enough of should I go to 3/4" doubled up? Oh and BTW I do use 7 ply plywood. good stuff.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    My current small bench is one of the harbor freight wood workers benches. Bought if for around $169.00. For that I couldn't buy the lumber and cut it out. When we assembled it we glued all the joints with monkey glue. I then added a brace on the back. is a good solid bench and does its job.

    If you can find it a piece of bowling alley makes a real nice bench top that's solid and durable. I have one bench made with a butcher block style top on it. Was a lot of work but it doesn't cag or give under any load Ive put on it. Its top is 3" X 28" X 8' 3/4" dowels every foot.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    You could get a solid core door mount it on top of your ply wood and rout a relief in the door to set your steel plate flush , then bolt the steel plate through door and plywood with carriage bolts or counter sunk screws if you want them flush I would drill the holes for the presses you want to mount through plate door and plywood , fender washers and nuts for all bolts on bottom of bench top.
    Or you could bolt a routed in or not Lee or other after market quick attach press mount on top and put your steel plate on the bottom of the top with the quick mount through bolted to it.
    And 4 to 6 bolts or screws on the edge of steel plate this would increase the footprint on top and spread the load through the steel plate on bottom
    Last edited by onelight; 03-30-2019 at 05:37 PM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    15meter, up until 2 years ago when I had my heart attack and by pass I did a lot of old boat repair as a hobby so I have built and replace many a boat transom. Some with very large outboards mounted to them. So I have faith in the plywood I'm using. 1/2" plate would have been nice but I got this pcs of 3/8" plate for cheap and I think it should be plenty for these pistol presses. Should be within scale.

    I've got 2"X2" bolted to the sides of the cabinets and then the top is also bolted with threaded inserts. This whole thing is pretty heavy and has a solid base which hasn't moved yet. The cabinets provide just the right amount of storage. Also because it is all bolted together it could be disassembled and moved if needed but seeing as it has taken over an empty upstairs bedroom in a 4 bdrm home of empty nesters it don't foresee that happening..

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    With 2 layers 1/2 “ l would be fine 3\8 aluminum in a 16 x 8 piece a lot easier to drill.. if that wouldn’t do it for plain reloading you need more lube.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
    AZ Pete's Avatar
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    Have you considered putting the steel plate on the underside of the bench top?

    I like tempered hardboard "masonite" for my bench tops. Just put trim around the bench top. The masonite can be replaced easily, if ever damaged.


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  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    I built my bench about a year ago. Set a 12 foot long section of 2 foot wide butcher block countertop across 2 separate Kobalt work benches. Then anchored it all to the wall. Nothing moves anywhere when loading.

  11. #11
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    I am redoing a prior set-up. Two 2"x12"s with 2"x4"s book-ending two, two drawer filing cabinets. Lots of storage, lots of space. Sits solid on the filing cabinets and can be lifted off if needed. The four 2x4s keep it tight on the filing cabinets and keep it stable

  12. #12
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    My bench came from the habitat store. They had a bunch of corner office cubicle desks, 4 went together to make a pod. Very heavy and solid. Built a frame of 2x4, all supports are diagonal to give me the easiest access to lower shelving and there are no legs in the way anywhere. I sit in a tall wheeled chair when I reload. I put adesk on each end and filled in between them with a cut up desk. You can see how they are shaped in the pix. Good luck.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Pete View Post
    Have you considered putting the steel plate on the underside of the bench top?

    I like tempered hardboard "masonite" for my bench tops. Just put trim around the bench top. The masonite can be replaced easily, if ever damaged.
    Yes I have thought about it but would rather have it on top, exposed so that the empty taped holes can be filled with button head screws to keep the garbage out and to use with my magnetic base light. And yes I have also looked at the hardboard along with the whiteboard. The local Menards stores carries both in 2'X4' handy panels at a pretty reasonable cost.

    After thinking this through a bit more I believe what I'm really questioning is material thickness and order. 3/4"x2, 1/2"X2, 3/4"X1/2", or buy a new panel of 5/8"X2. Or 3/4"X2X1/4"X1/8" Masonite to make up for around the steel plate.

  14. #14
    As solid as I thought that mine was I had a little movement and some squeaking until I put some more deck screws and a piece of angle iron on one end where my second turret was a bit too far from the 2x4s.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy metricmonkeywrench's Avatar
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    In making mine in the hobby room in the house I ended up using 2 sheets of 3/4 in plywood glued and screwed together, the lower piece is screwed to the support structure and the upper piece is screwed to the lower. The area where the press sits has a 1/4 in steel plate imbedded between the layers. Solid enough for most everything I need to do while reloading.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I use 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood glued and screwed. A router with a straight cutting bit will let you inlet your steel plate. Sounds intimidating but is real simple.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmw1954 View Post
    Yes I have thought about it but would rather have it on top, exposed so that the empty taped holes can be filled with button head screws to keep the garbage out and to use with my magnetic base light. And yes I have also looked at the hardboard along with the whiteboard. The local Menards stores carries both in 2'X4' handy panels at a pretty reasonable cost.

    After thinking this through a bit more I believe what I'm really questioning is material thickness and order. 3/4"x2, 1/2"X2, 3/4"X1/2", or buy a new panel of 5/8"X2. Or 3/4"X2X1/4"X1/8" Masonite to make up for around the steel plate.
    If 3/4 you have enough thickness to rout a 3/8 recess for you steel plate or add Masonite before cutting the recess .

  18. #18
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Thanks folks, Was just talking with a friend about routing this just as a few of you have suggested and that just may be the way to go if I can find a router. If so I will use 3/4"X2 laminated with a pcs of 1/8" or 1/4" Masonite as a smooth cover. Then thinking 7 screws around the perimeter of the plate using flat head socket head screws..

    Thank you all for helping me think this thru!!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmw1954 View Post
    Thanks folks, Was just talking with a friend about routing this just as a few of you have suggested and that just may be the way to go if I can find a router. If so I will use 3/4"X2 laminated with a pcs of 1/8" or 1/4" Masonite as a smooth cover. Then thinking 7 screws around the perimeter of the plate using flat head socket head screws..

    Thank you all for helping me think this thru!!
    If you were in OKC I’d come rout it for you.
    Show us how it works out.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onelight View Post
    If you were in OKC I’d come rout it for you.
    Show us how it works out.
    Much appreciated! I will certainly post pictures and share the experience.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check