DIY: How to Build a Compact Reloading Bench | Outdoor Life

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DIY: How to Build a Compact Reloading Bench

Reloading Bench

Photo by Bill Buckley

I’ve made several ponderously over-engineered reloading benches through the years. Sometimes, though, less is more. Robin Sharpless, who runs Redding Reloading Equipment, devised a bench that is portable, easy to assemble, and solid enough to handle the torque generated by a press. I made one based on his design in just a couple of hours. Here's how to create a fully functional setup for small spaces.

Foundation
The bench starts with a Black & Decker Workmate. I got the heavy-duty 425 model, which costs about $110 on Amazon.com, but the lighter and less expensive 225 will work as well. Both have legs that fold out and allow the reloading press to be positioned so it won’t tip the bench over.

Configuration
The Workmate’s modular design allows you to move the tabletop slats around. I removed the middle of the three slats and slid the remaining two together. This created a 29-by-13 ¼-inch top, onto which I bolted my work surface.

Tabletop
I took a piece of ¾-inch plywood and cut it into a 29-by-21-inch rectangle to form the work surface for the bench. I then cut a notch out of one corner and mounted the reloading press in the recess. The back of the notch sits flush with the underlying slat on the Workmate. This mounting position keeps the press centered above the bench legs, lending stability. I made the notch 10 ½ inches wide so that the handle of my Redding T-7 Turret press can move through its full range of motion.

When the press is installed, the mounting bolts run through both the plywood top and the slat underneath. This provides enough strength to handle the torque generated by the press while sizing brass. Run a couple more bolts through the tabletop and the slat at the back of the bench to secure them together.

Mounting Gear
I set the rear of the tabletop flush with the rear slat on the bench. This way I can use clamps to mount the case trimmer. A manual powder measure can be mounted to the bench as well if desired.

Press Choice
The T-7 press is one of the best out there. It is very precise, yet it allows the user to mount and quickly switch between multiple dies, making for faster reloading. A single-stage press would
also work.

Materials
Beyond the cost of the Workmate, I spent about $50 on this project. Most of that was for a high-quality piece of plywood. I also bought four ³/₈-inch bolts, and nuts and washers to go with each, for about $3 total. If you can scrounge up a good piece of scrap wood, the cost of the project plummets.

Storage
The press, powder measure, scale, accessories, and dies can be stored in medium-size plastic bins that can be stacked. The Workmate itself folds down flat. The whole setup will fit in the trunk of a car or a closet, out of sight, until needed.

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