Tactical Rifle Shooters
With over 40 years in shooting sports, and having moved house seven times, I have lost count of how many work benches, gunsmithing benches, and reloading benches that I have built. So while I am no skilled cabinet maker, I can certainly build something that is solid. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to build a functional bench on a budget. The one in the pictures took less than two hours and about $40 in lumber.
In the past, I would build all my benches in 8-foot lengths since most lumber comes in 8-footers and the benches were generally in the garage. But in the last few years I have been building 4-foot modules which work well when you are converting a spare bedroom into a reloading room. This also makes them lighter and easier to move around and reconfigure.
4-foot reloading bench module added to the end of my gunsmithing bench. Still a work in progress
For the skilled carpenters and woodworkers out there, this bench will look quite crude, but it is stable and solid, and as I indicated, took less than 2 hours to build.
Materials required for a 4-foot x 2-foot bench: three 2″ x 4″ x 8-feet; two 2″ x 10″ x 8-feet; one 1″ x 6″ x 8-feet; one sheet of 1/2″ plywood 2′ x 4′
Tools required: carpenters square, Dewalt screw gun, skill saw, pencil, measuring tape, torx-head wood screws in 1 1/2″, 2 1/2″, and 3″
As you can see in the images above, the 2 x 4’s are used for the legs and cross bars; the plywood is the base for the bench top; and the 2 x 10’s are the bench top and shelving. The 1 x 6’s are the back boards. You will also see that I leave a channel down the middle of the bench. I have found this useful for small items and tools that I do not want to lose or have roll of the bench.
For the 8-foot long benches I use 4″ x 4″ for the legs and add two extra 2 x 4’s under the bench top as stiffeners. But with the 4-foot benches, the 2 x 10’s provide sufficient stiffness and support.
Note over-hang lip on the front of the bench. This makes it easier to bolt the press to the bench and ensures the handle and ram clear the bench throughout the stroke
Over the years I have experimented with a variety of bench heights, but it really comes down to how tall you are and whether you prefer to work standing up of sitting on a stool. At 6′ 2″ I cut the legs to 38″ and add 2″ for the bench top, so the bench comes in at 40″ which works for standing or sitting on a bar stool. But for gunsmithing and finer work I have one bench that is 44″ to the top, which seems to make pistolsmithing, sight installs, and trigger jobs easier.
If you are building a bench purely for cleaning rifles, then you may want to go with regular table height of about 30″-32″ — this makes it easier for stroking the cleaning rod smoothly through the bore.
For additional ideas and inspiration, just Google “reloading benches”
A few more bench designs that came off the internet.