Micro Bench – The reloading bench for limited space
I use a storage room in my garage as the reloading room. It’s small, cramped and almost claustrophobic. Like many other reloaders space is a premium for me. That’s why I came up with the micro bench. The concept is simple. It’s basically a tapered box that’s attached to the studs of a wall. The top is made of two 3/4″ layers of laminated Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). The body is MDF and trimmed with some scraps of birch (any hardwood will do). I use MDF because it’s cheap, flat, easy to work with and rigid. I recommend against using plywood because it tends to flex considerably more than MDF and can cause problems. The total cost of materials can be as little as $30.
1. Cut the top, sides, base and back. I routed rabbets and dadoes 3/8″ deep for the components to fit in. You can use stiles if you don’t have the equipment for the grooves. It will accomplish the same thing, but cost a little more in materials. Notice one piece does not have a groove. That will be the laminated with the piece on the far left to make the top.
2. Taper the sides to 8 degrees. Don’t worry about being too exact, I just eyeballed it and fit everything. If you don’t have a table saw with a tapering jig clamp the pieces together and use a straight edge as a guide for you skill saw. This will make them parallel.
3. Assemble the case with glue and clamps. Be sure you dry fit everything first to make sure it fits. The top will not be laminated yet so leave that piece to the side. If you are short on clamps get everything tight and use finishing nails to hold it together. The tighter the joint the better the glue up.
4. Now glue up the top. Use good quality PVC glue. I like Titebond III. Spread it as evenly as you can on the surface and then center the top.
Go slow when clamping by slightly tightening each one in a circuit until you have them really tight . If you just tighten one clamp all the way before moving to the next one you will cause the work piece to slip out of alignment. If you have a biscuit jointer you can use it to help with alignment and prevent some slipping.
5. Dressed the sides with poplar. Probably not ideal, but I didn’t feel like surfacing Ash or maple. I won’t be pounding on it so I think it will last. I used a plate jointer for alignment. The top was a little uneven so I leveled it with a block plane.
6. Now mount it to the wall with lag bolts. Use shims to plum and level it. I slapped a little polyurethane on to lock out moisture. You can paint it if you prefer or just leave it bare if it’s in a place where you know it won’t be subjected to humidity. Now just bolt your press on and you’re ready to go.