RELOADERS CORNER: Making Space

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Some reloading ops don’t have to be done in a full-blown shop. Here are a few ideas when space, and comfort, are both at a premium. READ MORE

home reloading
There are stand-alone and then set-aside mounting solutions for folks who don’t have shop space. This is from Lee and available here at Midsouth.

Glen Zediker

I recently, at his request, took on the task of teaching one son to reload for his AR15. It was in the middle of the winter and my shop/studio area was pretty much closed down for the season. But he persisted, and it was also just the sort of thing I needed to shift gears and give myself a test of what I truly do know that I set out to share with you all each edition. I say that sort of humorously, but not really! Getting back to the basics, starting from the start, is a great idea. I recollect from experiences in what amounted to another life for me (I used to be a PGA Member), the great golf champion Jack Nicklaus would return to his original teacher, Jack Grout, at the start of each PGA Tour season and say: “I’m Jack Nicklaus. I’ve been thinking about taking up golf. Can you show me how to hold the club?”

So the immediate challenge for me was to make this learning experience worthwhile and also comfortable! And easy given the busy schedules we both have.

Many of us have well thought out and lavishly equipped reloading work spaces, and, others, not so much. All during the many many years I’ve been reloading, I’ve lived in apartments, moved to new locations, and, either way, didn’t always have access to the well-lit and sturdily-constructed “loading bench.”

I’ve made do, and, looking back, I don’t think I ever missed a point as a result.

Tricks and Tips
C-clamps are wonderful allies! Mounting many tools doesn’t require direct bench-top fastening. For years, even with a full-scale shop to stretch out in, I have been a fan of mounting tools on “platforms” and then clamping that to the bench when needed. I have a penchant for efficiency in loading and a big part of satisfying that is being able to relocate tools. In other words, I don’t want to have a trimmer, priming tool, and so on and on, all mounted in a (long) row along my benchtop. I want to be able to locate them where I want them, when I need them.

home reloading
A little creativity can mount most tools for easy location-relocation. Drill straight! That matters.
home reloading
Here’s a Forster trimmer mounted to that wood piece that can pretty much clamp anywhere.

Get to the hardware store and invest in some wood pieces, fastener-fixtures, and hex-head-screws. Take a priming tool, for instance, and mount it to the wood and then clamp that to the benchtop (or any suitable surface, anywhere) and commence to using it. Simple!

home reloading
This is an easy way to mount a quickly removable tool, like this small Lee press.

I’ve also had good success locating the tool mount spots I prefer for various appliances on my benchtop and then using the hex-head screws to attach the tools via installed threaded fastener receptacles when I want to use them.

home reloading
Built-in clamps are where it’s at. I’m a big fan of Harrell’s Precision tools and the omnipresent clamp is one small reason why.

I’ve even taken to doing that in mounting big tools. The bench where I load ammo is also the same bench where I build guns, or they share common area. After getting tired of bolting and unbolting vises and presses, I mounted each to a 2X12 piece of wood and affix either to the benchtop using a couple of honking c-clamps. As long as there’s enough area to get a good clamp down and enough surface area to sit the bench, I cannot tell the difference.

Now, when it comes to some higher weight and higher leverage tools, like presses, some of what you can get away with, in a way of looking at it, has a lot to do with how sturdy the base platform needs to be. Sizing .223 Rem.? Not much stress. Bigger cases, more stubborn ops, might need more substantial grounding.

For us, a combination of c-clamps and factory-mounted clamps on some of our meters and presses meant we could set up alongside each other at, believe it or not, our kitchen table and load in comfort, and easy access to a refrigerator!

home reloading
An assortment of fasteners: t-bolts and barrel screws from a hardware store, along with a c-clamp.

There are also some handy ready-made bases for loading available HERE at Midsouth.

Point is, if you don’t have access to a conventional bench, work area, or you want to prime cases while you’re watching television with your friends or family, there’s a solution. It just takes a little creativity.

Just pay attention to the loading!

home reloading
Here’s son Charlie ready to learn how to set up a sizing die… In the comfort of our kitchen, in the middle of the winter. Ammo loaded here shoots just as well as that done in the shop.

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s book Top-Grade Ammo. Available HERE at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Visit ZedikerPublishing.com for more information on the book itself, and also free article downloads.

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9 thoughts on “RELOADERS CORNER: Making Space”

  1. I am one of those afflicted with a space limitation. I have all of my reloading stuff in a small craftsman roll around toolbox the peg-board style sides hold racks that I made for my dies, took racks for screw drivers, brushes, hand case-prep widgets, etc. my press is on a portable wood stand w/ a cork bottom to resist slipping. The stand is made so that it can be taken with me to the range, or just plopped in top of the tool box. It is a small portable setup that can be rolled into the closet when not in use, and has served me for about 7 years now. It would be nice to have dedicated shop space to spread out in.

  2. I do the same mount stuff on wood platforms an then C clamp it to the work bench. The only permanent mount is the press.
    It works great.

  3. I have never had a “setup,” and I have been reloading for nearly thirty years. I have always used a Lee hand press, and I place a wide cutting board on the floor to hold my scale, powder dispenser, and reloading tray. I sit on the living room floor, or at the dining room table, and load thousands of rounds, often while watching television (but not failing to watch what I am doing). The thought of going out to the garage or to a shop, and not having portability to load wherever I feel like doing it, including on vacations, is simply not in my thinking. Admittedly, I clean, size, measure, weigh, examine, verify, reload, crimp, test, keep data, and the like, but I don’t check the center of gravity on every bullet and approach it all as if it were rocket science.

  4. My wife would never tolerate my commandeering the kitchen table where she has to prepare and eat meals. Also really question the wisdom of do any reloading activity while watching TV.

    1. If you can’t pay attention to what you are doing and also find a place out of other people’s way, then I definitely recommend that you set up a shop, and maybe even have someone else do the work. Never good to go out of one’s depth. Meanwhile, reloading on the dining room table when dinner is being served would be a bit in the way, for sure. At that point, though, it is just so easy to move to a different spot! And TV being a problem? It simply depends on how fascinated one is with the programming.

  5. Back when I was real estate challenged, I purchased a Black & Decker Workmate 300 for a loading bench. I created a small tabletop out of 3/4 plywood with a cleat on the bottom so I could clamp the work surface into the Workmate. It worked very well and was easy to set up and take down, and could be stored in a closet.

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