Reloading Bench Project

by Rich Stern

After loading about six thousand rounds of a half dozen different calibers on a small, cramped reloading bench, I decided to build a new reloading bench. The old bench was reasonably functional, but as I spent more time reloading ammo, I wanted to make it easier and more comfortable. Space limits put a damper on that. The old bench:

One corner of my basement is a catch all for wood scraps and unfinished projects. Note the project boat hanging from the ceiling in the next shot. A few eBay auctions and some cleanup will cure the space problem:

Over the course of a week, I looked at pictures of various reloading benches posted on the Internet, to get ideas for my own bench. I decided to use the NRMA reloading bench plan as a basis for my bench. The plans for this bench can be viewed here:

I wanted to be able to swap reloading press and other bench mounted tools quickly, without using wrenches, clamps or other fasteners. To do this, I planned to modify the benchtop so that dovetailed slots would accept a dovetail insert, with the press already bolted to the insert. When the press wasn't in the dovetail slot, a blank would be inserted, to create a flat worksurface. To make sure it would work, I cut some test pieces and set them up, clamped to my workbench. I decided to use melamine for the benchtop, for ease of cleanup and enhancment of lighting. Worked well.

I set my tablesaw at a 30 degree blade angle and cut a bunch of dovetail blanks to exactly the same dimensions. I made one for each of my bench mounted tools, plus three blanks to fill in the dovetail slots when not in use, plus a couple of extras for future use.

The NRMA reloading bench is pretty straightforward to build, easy to customize, and results in a very sturdy worksurface. Here is is under construction.

Basic bench done, still needing back cabinet and dovetail slots in the worktop.

This shot gives a good idea of what the benchtop dovetails look like. The bench has three of these slots.

Trial fitting of one of the dovetials with a press mounted.

Back cabinet assembled and installed.

Coming together nicely. Here's the "full court press."

When not in a bench slot, the presses can be quickly stored in slots above the top shelf.

Here's the finished bench:

One more, with a press installed in the middle slot:

On the bench, I have an old laptop computer that I use to access my reload data (Excel spreadsheet) via wireless network. My future expansion plans call for a TV, so I can enjoy a ball game while depriming, trimming cases, etc.

Nothing complicated about the construction. I made extensive use of a table saw, but this project could be readily done with a circular saw, cordless drill, and hand tools. Total cost in materials was approxmiately $150, and could be even less with use of materials cast-off from job sites and other sources.

Many thanks to the untold and unknown sources of reloading bench ideas. Shooters who handload/reload ammo are incredibly generous with their ideas and data, and for this I am grateful.