Bench/press layout question

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by milanuk, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,052
    This is a question for those of you with multiple presses mounted on your bench... specifically progressives, or a mix of single stage and progressives.

    What do you find is the optimal layout as far as a) spacing side to side, so that the 'footprint' of one press doesn't interfere with the operation of an adjacent press, and b) depth of the bench, front to back?

    In the past I've always had a looooong open counter, about 24-30" deep. In large part, that was to accommodate being able to spread out case trays, etc. for prep, sorting, that kind of thing. So far, in my experience, the excess space behind the press ends up either being some what wasted, or accumulating junk.

    Given that my reloading area is now co-located in the corner of my (woodworking) garage shop, I'm looking at building a dedicated, enclosed, reloading bench / closet just for the presses, with doors that can be closed to keep the dust out/off, and with storage below and above, possibly with a dedicated shelf (fixed to the wall studs) for the powder scale & trickler (FX-120i + AutoThrower + AutoTrickler). Presses would be a Forster Co-Ax, Dillon RL550B, and (hopefully) a Dillon XL750 w/ case feeder.

    I'll still have a general purpose open bench area that can be used for sorting and prep work, so in theory, the bench area doesn't need to be as deep.

    I've seen some of the bench designs with the t-track inletted into the bench top... which would allow the presses to be moved side-to-side as needs dictate... but I have some reservations about how well that setup would hold up over time, as the size of screws typically used to hold the track down typically aren't very big. Though I suppose one could epoxy them into the bench top as well - kind of a 'glue-n-screw' arrangement.

    More recently, I've also started looking at the Inline Fabrication quick change mounts. Very intrigued by these... though I'm not sure about putting a 750 w/ case feeder on one of those, and hauling it off/on with any regularity. Probably more a matter of having that one 'permanently' mounted inside the cabinet, and then having a quick change mount next to it (and maybe a flush mount on the open bench) for the other stuff as needed. Lots of possibilities.

    Anywho, I'm curious as to what those of you with multiple presses think as far as what is a comfortable spacing & depth for your presses. What you have now, vs. if you had to start over from scratch...
     
    bullseyeshooter likes this.
  2. Bindi2

    Bindi2

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    I have mine about shoulder width apart.
     
  3. Kurz

    Kurz

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Messages:
    1,121
    I regularly use 24" deep benches because that's how deep Seville makes them. I lag them to the floor and to the back wall so they don't move. This shifts the top to the front so you have the extra space to locate the bolts to hold presses. But they still look really nice compared to 2x4s. Seville makes tool chests on rollers which fit under the workbench and have a butcher block work surface also. Pull out the chest and increase your surface work space. I have used the T-Slot rails embedded into the top also. Mine are left to right for adjustability and accommodating different presses and processes.

    I use a 4" riser, 10" deep the length of the bench. I build custom shelves to hold powder, dies and primers which sits on the riser. The riser elevates the shelf unit off the work surface making access to the shelving much easier when the presses are mounting in front.

    Here's an example of front to back rails (not mine):

    [​IMG]

    This is the type I use for left to right rails:

    [​IMG]

    Use a good search engine to locate photos of reloading room ideas.
     
  4. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,052
    I've seen plenty of pics (thank you, though); more interested in dimensions i.e. spacing between machines - which is rarely included in any bench pic thread that I've ever seen.
     
  5. Steve Ladino

    Steve Ladino

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Messages:
    842
    If only one operator then 16 to18 inches between each one
     
  6. Twicepop

    Twicepop Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2018
    Messages:
    313
    Mine when I made it was 72" long and 30" deep. My press (single stage) is bolted about 15" from the left end, my luber/sizer is bolted about 15" from the right end and my arbor press is close to the middle. I made a 4' open stand/box to hold my re-loading manuals and placed an inexpensive kitchen cabinet on top of this to hold bullets, primers, etc. This goes to the right side of the bench, to the left of that is an elevated stand large enough to accept my powder thrower (Lyman 55), powder scale and trickler.
     
  7. Oso

    Oso

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    Messages:
    229
    Your layout is going to depend upon what type of presses you have as well as the type of work space (A/C, indoors or in garage, potential issues with humidity, etc.). My reloading center is in my garage, which is also my wood working shop (hobbyist). The space has an A/C when I feel like using it. I am always watching out for humidity, and dust collects moisture. As a result I like to keep my tools covered or stored away. My work surface is 72" x 30".

    The T-Track system has potential, but there are some things to consider. My preference would be to use T-Tracks that are milled from steel (more robust), and not the typical aluminum. Yes, in addition to the screws you should also add epoxy in the groove (make certain to rough up outside of T-track with a file so that the epoxy has something to grab/stick to. I question how much I would be shifting my machines left or right. I plan to have cabinets above/behind my workbench so no use in ability to move machine forward and backwards. Where I do see value to the T-Track is a way to secure down smaller reloading tools, such as swager, case prep tools, neck turning lathe, and other measuring instruments.

    I have a 1050 with all the bells (except auto drive) and this item is not going to be shifted around. I have dedicated a spot toward the left side of the bench to permanently house this beast, which allows me to easily access the bullet & brass feeders as well as Case trimmer unit (small router). My other presses are smaller and consist of a B-Square (great for small pistol batches) and a couple of single stage presses. The Rockchuker has been relegated to being a dedicated depriming station for dirty brass, and I have shifted it to the far right side of the bench since you load it from the left. All other presses can be swapped out at the center of the bench.

    I went with the In-line Fabrications bases for my machines. Yes, I bought one for each machine so that I could easily remove entire machine. I have countersunk threaded nuts from underside of bench top so simply align holes on reloading base and ratchet down a bolt into the holes. My reloading Based on my usage, I have determined that I most likely will only leave the 1050 mounted full-time and the other presses will be stored in large storage drawer and pulled out as needed. Additionally, this allows me to keep dust off my tools

    I would keep at least 18" between machines... shoulder's width or else you will be bumping into other press as you sit off-center to the machine that you are using.
     
  8. riflewoman

    riflewoman Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,261
    Eons ago, I had a “spare” room in a basement. It was below the kitchen and was relatively un-finished. So I made it my loading room. I made two benches. One was normal depth 24 inches or so. But the other was only about 18 or 20. Which was the edge of the door opening. Just enough to puts press on and not be cramped. I purposefully made it narrow to prevent clutter buildup.

    If I had to do it again, I’d very likely add T tracks to the work top. Rather than mounting multiple presses, I’d mount them to a Inline ultramount top. With the quick change plates. Then I’d hang the presses not used on the wall.

    But, with all my years in industry, I’ve come to realize that wall-backed work surfaces don’t work near as well as free-standing work benches. So if you have the room, place the work bench so you can get to it from both sides and the ends. If you have to share space with a car or some other shop space, put it on wheels so you can move it. If the other use is a wood shop a zipper cover can keep all but the serious dust off everything.
     
    pirate ammo likes this.
  9. TAJ45

    TAJ45 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,199
    The way I spread my $h - - out, I like to leave a good 28-30" between. As rifleman stated, my deep bench attracts clutter like a rare earth magnet squared.
    I do access that bench 360° but have recently mentally addressed the problem w the idea of building a two sided slanted shelf w lip running lengthwise, to help me keep the "stuff" I am currently needing more visible.
    PS. Love a solid core door.
     
  10. Intheshop

    Intheshop Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2016
    Messages:
    666
    12" on center is the minimum.

    Retired cabinet maker/contractor guy. Can have pretty much anything I want. These are 1964 "take out" cabs. Have bigger rooms available and don't need it,or a bigger bench.

    Have a separate shop. Don't even clean firearms in here. Some light gunsmith work. Everything else takes place in-the-shop,haha. This is more like a small private "den" or office,and spend right much quality time in here.

    I will say,to take your time and build something you're proud of because,you are going to spend much time in there. No need for it to be junked up,constantly disorganized. Best of luck with your project.

    Screenshot_20200116-172545_Gallery.jpg
     
    pilot, Rustytigwire, SLuke and 3 others like this.
  11. Iowa Fox

    Iowa Fox Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Messages:
    740
    Whoa! Thats some serious cast bullet capability. Very nice set up.
     
    Intheshop likes this.
  12. JSH

    JSH

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    Messages:
    521
    I will say not to make it any deeper than necessary, it will only draw clutter.

    I have mine set up as an island. 2 progressive presses on each side, rock chucker and Bonanza press on one end and two RCBS lube sizers on the other end.

    I highly suggest cleaning bench and reloading bench as a separate area.
     
  13. Heavy Metal 1

    Heavy Metal 1

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2017
    Messages:
    11
    Do not make the bench any deeper than 24 " otherwise it will become an overstretch reach which really is not a healthy posture.
     
    Bindi2 likes this.
  14. Twoboxer

    Twoboxer Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Messages:
    389
    I took a different approach. Since I don't use more than one press at any one time, they did not all need to be mounted. I do have a bunch of other tools that should be bench-mounted, but why waste all that bench space?

    The bench below is 72" x 30". I prefer 30" because it allows storage of stuff along the back of the bench leaving 24" of open bench space. The mount system is the Quick Change System from Inline Fabrication and is rock-solid. The bench is shown with the RCBS Universal Case Prep Center on its custom made mount from IF. When a second tool is needed, I have a second mounting plate on a rolling cart to the far left.

    It takes less than a minute to swap presses and/or tools. When the presses are not in use they are hung off the end of the bench. All the other tools have plates attached and can be stored anywhere.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    milanuk likes this.
  15. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,052
    @Twoboxer that does touch on one of the other questions I have... how much of a PITA is it to yard a full-sized progressive like the LnL AP w/ casefeeder off and on of the QC mount on the bench, and into the dock? How much tilt/swing is involved with the way the case feeder extends above the press? Docking in a relatively 'open' area like you have might be a different affair than trying to stick 'em in a closet/cabinet (still thinking about keeping them contained / stored dust free, though I'm wondering if a custom dust cover might not be a simpler approach).

    I get that its not all that technically complicated, given the design of the QC plates and all... and I'm not exactly small or weak, but more that I worry about bumping into something, having my grip slip and dropping the whole dang thing partway (or all the way), and seriously FUBARing the press and/or case feeder.
     
  16. hoz53

    hoz53 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2010
    Messages:
    3,244
    i to have had quite a few different loading benches over the years, always against a wall. like you my last bench i made an island -- i like it much better.
     
    SPJ likes this.
  17. OmegaRed

    OmegaRed Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    181
    I set mine up with an L at sitting level and a floating island at standing height. Presses and barrel vise on the standing, everything else on the L. That way press stroke doesnt disrupt scale, solvents dont get on electronics, easier to keep decluttered.
     
  18. Oso

    Oso

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    Messages:
    229
    If you have a large progressive, such as Dillon or Hornady, with all of the bells and whistles (bullet feeder, case feeder, power case trimmer, etc.) this is not something that you are going to Quick Change. These become static presses that you bolt down securely and do not plan to shift around. You definitely need access to all sides of the machine. The height of the accessories (bullet and brass feeder) make it impossible to have overhead cabinets directly behind it unless they have sliding doors.

    I would be hard pressed to put this in a cabinet/closet reloading bench other than setting it dead center for maximum clearance/ access from all sides, and even then I would be hesitant.
     
    ToddKS likes this.
  19. ToddKS

    ToddKS Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2013
    Messages:
    162
    While theoretically possible, I agree with Oso that moving a progressive press around is not a good plan. It invites all sorts of opportunities for problems and damage.
     
  20. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,052
    I'm kind of in the place where I plan on gutting the existing long 'work bench' and the associated upper and lower cabinets down the side of my shop. They were already there when I moved in last spring, and pretty much everything about them irritates or annoys me. So I do sort of have a 'blank sheet' as far as the layout goes, in the long term. My only reservation about the whole 'island' bench concept is the same as any other deep bench top... they collect stuff. Some people are great about keeping them clear... me, not so much. I have one currently, that is 30" wide by 8 feet long... and rarely does it have an open space more than 2' wide by 1' deep :rolleyes:

    The reality is that my use of a progressive, whether the 550 or 750, is going to be highly intermittent. Process in batches, then sit idle for long periods, depending on what else is going on. Being able to have it out front n center on the bench for ease of access while in use would be nice... as would being able to tuck it away out of the way, rather than having to be constantly working around it.

    Two generally opposite goals, I realize... but it does look like @Twoboxer might have it handled. Just a question of whether I could make it work for me..
     
    Twoboxer likes this.

Share This Page