Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reloading Bleg

I've decided I need to make a dedicated reloading area, so I'm looking for some advice on setting up a really nice reloading area.  I have two presses, a single stage and a progressive: I think I'd like to leave both set up at opposite ends of a single bench.  How are you guys set up? Got any links to pictures? 

My reloading adventures so far have been in cluttered spaces - to say the least.  I've safely reloaded a few times, with the single stage Rock Chucker Press I started out with, but I've just barely gotten my RCBS progressive set up.  Part of what I've been doing for the last couple of months is cleaning out an area in the garage that will be the new reloading center.  Right now, I store my powder at the opposite end of the house, in compliance with things I've read from the manufacturers and online (example), keeping powders and primers far from each other, and powder bottles separated from each other by barriers, but I don't have a powder cabinet.  That will change.

I've looked at many pictures online, and I have some ideas, I just thought I'd see what those of you who drop by regularly are doing.  To a degree, it's overwhelming.  Way too many choices.  I don't have unlimited room, but I'm aiming for a corner in the garage where I can spread out about.  Maybe 4'x4' to as much as 6'x6'.  Bigger is preferred, of course.

I don't have any real pictures of the clutter, because I've always done my best not to include the clutter in the pictures.  Look behind the press in this picture, though.  This is also my electronics workbench.  To the right is a gray-cased DVM, behind that a black box with blue Dymo labels - that's a 30 year old power supply.  There's freeze spray, dusting spray, and more.  There are two bins full of electronics parts (junk box), another voltmeter on the left, a long coil wound with red magnet wire that was the heart of an experiment.  There's a spool of orange wire on the right, and solder almost under the press.  Just too much junk.  Everyone knows it can not only be distracting during reloading, it can be dangerous.  I need to get that mess straightened out.  It's why I haven't done much reloading.

(Note to non-Floridians:  it's pretty much universal everywhere I've been in the state that your house comes with a garage, and you leave your cars in the driveway.  A Florida garage is more like northerner's basements).


  1. Looks a lot like the average tinkerer's place, biggest thing I see is potential for static discharge, so ground your bench Brother. Touch the ground wire before You touch the bench.

  2. G'day SG, thanks for the interesting blog! This chap has a tidy bench (and also a nice blog), maybe worthwhile contacting him about some tips:

  3. I've seen false benchtops used to overcome temporary clutter - plywood on 2X4 standoffs. Better choice is to fix the clutter, or one may become The Princess and The Pea.

    Not a lot of workbenches are sturdy enough to handle a press; I've used a welded stanchion - 5" .250" wall pipe welded to .500" plate top and bottom, bottom anchored to the concrete floor, top drilled for each of the presses (Rockchucker and two Dillons). Set at the end of the bench it's a very solid press platform, and the bench holds the associated bits. Worth the cost, and it's moved house-to-house with me.

    Years back someone made a dovetail rig to accommodate multiple presses. Bolt one side to bench, other to press(es), slide in, pin, use, unpin, slide out. It died quickly so there was obviously something wrong with the execution, but the idea seems worthy of development.

    Since garages in FL are uninhabitable in summer, I used 1/2" EMT, some cheap light canvas (check with sailboat friends about scrap sails) and shower curtain hooks to reduce the volume around the bench that a portable AC unit had to cool. Moving air and powder scales are incompatible, the canvas curtain helped with that, and I could reach over and turn off the AC when weighing. It was either that or drip sweat on brass and primers.

    Old shallow (12") wall cabinets are great for keeping reloading stuff out of sight, organized and dust free. A couple extra helps with the usual bench clutter. Placed right, one can hang stuff from the cabinet bottoms and add a T-4 fluorescent or two.

    Light. Can't have too much light. I use a ceiling mounted 4-tube 8 ft fluorescent over the bench plus an articulated arm with an incandescent fixture. White walls around the bench help reflect light and reduce shadows.

    1. The garage was air conditioned years ago, so that's not an issue. Without that, it would be uninhabitable in there, for sure.

      That bench sounds immovable though, a really good thing! Gives me some ideas, for sure.