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bench size and location, workflow, space around machines.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Taykaim, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. Taykaim

    Taykaim NRA Member

    Mar 7, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I just finished putting my new garage door on my newly converted carport to garage. This means for literally the first time in my life I have a garage!!! (I honestly cant even say how happy I am about that).

    I now CAN put up a reloading bench in there. The big question is should I, and if so, how much space is optimal?

    My other big hobby is machine stuff out of wood, leather, polymers and occasionally metal. So while this garage will soon have good vacuum and air handling, some amount of sawdust is likely at first.

    The leather doesn't make much mess, the polymers are a fairly clean process and I take my welding outside, so they shouldn't be a factor.

    However, with moving tools and some storage from the house to garage, I will now have room to put up the bench inside. Given this option, and the dust issue in the garage, would I be better off finding a place inside for it? Garage is not conditioned, so while its insulation helps blunt the heat and cold, it will have temp swings with the seasons. My gut feeling is that primers dont care about normal household temps, neither does brass or bullets, but I'm less sure about powder. The inside is probably also less humid.

    I suspect that inside is going to be considered a better place, but I figured I'd ask since the garage would enable a much larger bench.

    The next topic is how machines can be setup to maximize work space and work flow. An inside table will of necessity be smaller than one in the garage, but if I have an idea of how much space should be around each type of machine, and what the best layout is, I can determine if I have the space to do it.

    I have these pieces of equipment.

    hornady LnL classic
    hornady Lnl AP
    RCBS rock chucker single stage
    century single stage (currently out of service for lack of parts availability)
    lyman 1500 xp electronic scale
    lyman pro 1000 beam scale
    RCBS trim mate case prep center
    case tumbler
    mid sized ultra sonic cleaner

    If there is something else I should have to do a good job, or some really obvious piece of equipment I should have but didn't list I'd love to hear it.

    Anyway, how best can those things be laid out, and how much space is considered the best (not minimum, since I'm a big tall guy).

    I figure in the end I'll end up moving stuff around till its just right for me, but some tips on initial layout could save me some grief.

    Also, is there any reason I couldn't put the case cleaning gear in the garage?
  2. themighty9mm


    Sep 19, 2008
    Well if you can do it inside it will be the best and most comfortable option.
    Otherwise maybe get something to put over your loading equipment to keep the dust off. Plenty of people reload in garages or shed with little to no temperature control and have no problems. But I would not want to sweat and load or freeze and load. Just doesnt sound enjoyable. I do it in my basement.

    I'd leave the tumbler in the garage though. The lead dust and crud from the spent cases is not something you really want in your living room

    I think ideally you will want at least a foot and a half on either side of each press to give you a bit or work space. A little more wouldnt hurt. I only have 1 press though. Its mounted about a foot and a half from the end of my bench. It has worked out fine so far
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

  3. Kwesi


    Sep 23, 2006
    I've learned from the experts here that some powder is VERY temperature sensitive. I'd post a question about the brands you'll be using.
  4. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    When refering to a powder as being 'temperature sensitive' the context is in the actual act of firing it, not storing it.

    A temperature sensitive powder normally displays it's biggest performance swings in high temperatures where pressures will show an increase with velocities slightly higher as confirmed through the use of a chronograph. Depending on the shooter's ability a decrease in accuracy may be noticed also.

    Storage of powder is not as critical as one might imagine. Although optimum storage would be a cool, dry environment as long as powder is kept in its original containers it can undergo wild temperature swings as well as low and high humidity.

    Many of the older loaders here have stored powder for years in barns, outdoor sheds, etc. where the temperature has gone from plus one-hundred degrees with high humidity to temperatures well below zero with low humidity with absolutely no ill effects in performance.

    Remember, it use to be a common practice to buy pounds of powder in paper bags and store it that way until it was used.

    Being highly hydroscopic black powder requires slightly more care in storage.

  5. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    Reloading in your new "garage" and the temp/humidity involved will not adversely affect your rounds. Just store your primers and powders inside the house in an air conditioned space. Kwesi's point about some powders being temperature sensitive comes into play when the round is fired, not when reloaded.

    Space - I'll agree with Mighty that you will need a minimum of 18" to either side of a press, and at least 3' of clear space in front of the press (more if you've a larger body size). My primary "reloading" bench is 8' long and has only one press (550b) permanently mounted at present. The bench often pulls double duty for other non-reloading projects and gets rather small very quick. Ancillary quipment can be mounted on small wood/metal platforms, moved around and clamped as needed when you need to use them.

    Read up on some of the ideas for height, as this will be important. Also, the bench must be built rock sturdy - too much flex and you've a lot of lost energy when working that press. It adds up over time.
  6. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    If you can everything in the house except for the tumbler in the garage. I like 18” to 24” at least between the presses. It all depends on how much room and how big of a reloading bench you want and can build. The bigger the better. It is also nice to have room in between so as to work on guns etc. or other reloading needs.
  7. fudd


    Mar 31, 2006
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Move all of your stuff into your new garage and have individual hobby rooms in the house.
  8. Taykaim

    Taykaim NRA Member

    Mar 7, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I had thought I might setup the three presses on 3/4 ply both for stability and easy of quickly mounting to the table when in use. I do the same thing with my mini lathe and a couple other tools that don't get a lot of use relative to their footprint. I could use clamps for back up, but for my smaller tools I also route in T tracks and install rails and bolts+knobs to tighten them down wherever needed directly to the bench. This also lets me build my "wall of tools" where tools not being used can be attached vertically to the wall to get them out of the way.

    However, I hope to have at least one mounted permanently once I figure out the best layout. If nothing else, I have 2.7 kids and want to make sure that if and when they start asking questions about my reloading, I can both answer them, and show them without taking so long to setup that I've used up a kids patience.

    I'll probably build it the same height as my old standing desk, and a bit shorter than my walk station. I assume there might be some differences to account for the biometrics of the pull, so whatever that difference is will be the added or subtracted height from "just under the elbows while standing" height I prefer. I'm 6'5 so I've had to build my own counters and tables all too many times when I wanted comfortable heights.

    This shouldn't be a problem. I tend toward massively overbuilding tables and benches because I never know what duty I will press them into. my old sitting desk(really just a 4X8 table where I setup a bunch of computer hardware) got re-purposed as a sheet goods table when I moved to my current house. Putting a hundred sheets (about 6000 lbs) of fire code drywall on it didn't even make it creak. However, that's just load capacity. I usually make work table surfaces in a sort of sandwich as follows:

    from the bottom up:

    1/4" ply
    type one PVA glue
    3/4" MDF
    type one PVA glue
    3/4" furniture grade plywood
    poly (usually)

    Then I hit it with a router using a flush trim bit to get it all even then trim the outside edges with whatever hardwood I've got around. I then round off the edges, and route in some grip grooves on all four sides so fingers can get under it even when its flat on the ground (these things are heavy, only had to make that mistake once).

    I would not say this ends up better than a well made butcher block style table top, but I do some fairly hard stuff to my tables and use them to mount metal brakes, various tools and hand plane on them. I've never had the slightest flex.

    However, if this sounds like it might be inadequate for the stresses of a reloading crank, I could always add a heavier subframe of angle iron or dimensional lumber around the mounting points of the tabletop to the leg frame structure.
  9. Taykaim

    Taykaim NRA Member

    Mar 7, 2009
    Atlanta, GA

    I could almost get behind this idea, except for Georgia heat. Also.. I like enjoying the adult benefits of my wife, and those might suffer if I did that.

    Next project is to build a garage sized outbuilding in the backyard, which might even allow me to put vehicles in the garage. Or more likely.. put more stuff in the new building and the garage will still be full of tools.
  10. Taykaim

    Taykaim NRA Member

    Mar 7, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks, I had wondered how people kept their smokeless good before tight seals were widely available. Its good to know I don't have to treat it like canned food.
  11. Kwesi


    Sep 23, 2006
    Thanks Jack! Sorry I passed on incorrect advice. Does a sticky exist that lists the powders that are most affected or is it pretty common across the board with some being particularly sensitive?