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Tips and Tricks for the reloading bench

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Dawico, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Dawico

    Dawico Uncoiled Lifetime Member

    Oct 15, 2009
    Lampasas, Texas
    These type of threads are some of my favorites to read through when I am bored. I know we have some new reloaders on the board and maybe us experienced reloaders can share some tips and tricks we have learned over the years with them and each other. I believe we had a thread about it already but it is buried so deep in the archives that I could not find it. It is a good subject to revisit from time to time.

    I throw some torn up strips of paper towels in with my dirty cases. They do a good job of picking up dirt and making the media last longer. Some guys recommend using old dryer sheets but I don't like the smell they give my media.

    After I lube and size rifle cases I run them back through my tumbler to get rid of the excess case lube. You will want to clear the flash holes again but it is still worth it.

    If I am just cleaning a handful of cases I use a sifter type spoon to get them out of my tumbler instead of dumping the whole tumbler into my seperator.

    Speaking of that, if I am loading bulk rifle ammo, I size them first and tumble them again. Then I load them up in my progressive press. I use a Lee universal deprimer in the first station to clear the flash holes and load away. This makes loading a bunch of bulk plinking ammo go very quickly.

    I have all my presses and other equipment mounted on chunks of wood. I use C clamps to mount them on my bench. This allows me to put them away and use my bench for other projects and I can also mount my presses anywhere I can clamp them to. This comes in very handy for people reloading with limited space.

    Using spray lubes like Hornady One Shot I throw my cases in a Zip Lock baggy, spray, and shake. This helps distribute the spray evenly and keeps me from getting the spray all over my loading blocks and bench.

    A drill can be your best friend at the bench. Chuck up your tool and trim, chamfer, or polish away. Most people really dread these tasks and a drill will help make them bearable.

    If your press ever feels rough (or even before then) tear it completely apart and clean and regrease it. Like any tool it requires a bit of maintenance now and then. You will be surprised how much easier it is to operate after a good lube job.

    That is all I can think of at the moment. Whatcha got fellas?

  2. rushthezeppelin

    rushthezeppelin TGT Addict

    Dec 28, 2012
    Cedar Park
    I'm brand new (haven't even loaded a single case yet) but I think I have a small tidbit to add.

    If you just bought a brand new press, make sure to detail strip it and clean it thoroughly just like any new gun you get. I just picked up a nib Lee 1000 and this thing gets some terrible reviews and I'm pretty sure allot of the problems (namely the primer feed issue) can be largely solved by a good cleaning. Also proper lubricant is important, grease on the ram and nothing but graphite in your shellplate carrier (if you have a progressive).

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
  3. ROGER4314

    ROGER4314 Been Called "Flash" Since I Was A Kid!

    Jul 11, 2009
    East Houston
    I forget about quantity and concentrate on quality. There is only ONE cartridge that is important....the one that you're loading right now.

    I don't store my loaded rounds in plastic bags. I buy boxes that are appropriate for them and store them in a professional manner.

    I'd rather spend the extra time to make ONE good round instead of getting in a hurry to make 10 lousy ones.

    If there is anything amiss, I don't feel right about the reloads or if I found an error, I pull the rounds down, salvage the components and start fresh.

    Do not sell or trade your reloads. It's not legal and liability problems are poised to beat you up.

    Don't post load data. You are liable for misdirecting others. I have a touch of Dyslexia and it's common for me to transpose numbers. There's world of difference between 4.9 grains and 9.4 grains! I NEVER post charge info. I have scanned a page from a manual and Emailed that.

    I clean all rifle primer pockets and any pistol rounds that I may need to rely on. I don't clean primer pockets on range pistol ammo.

    Write the load information on your reload boxes. Time passes and you will forget.

    Shotguns? Mount a cookie sheet below your shot shell reloading press. It will catch any runaway pellets. Sooner or later, you'll dump a load of pellets!

    I buy new boxes for my shot shell reloads. It's worth it to me to have my workmanship LOOK like someone cared enough to do it right.

    Never pour powder or pellets without a pan underneath. I go to the 99cent store and buy their baking pans and meatloaf pans. They do great in containing spills and cost is minimal.

    When I load, I leave a tag on the powder reservoir and on the primer magazine identifying the powder and primers that I'm using. I attach the tags with a Velcro band around the container or primer magazine. That goes double for rifle and pistol primers. It's way too easy to mix them up once they're out of their containers.

    I leave most of my powder and primers out in the barn. I bring only what I need into the house.

    When I pour powder or restock primers, I take the components out, do what I need to do then put the item back into an 18" cube metal box that I keep by the bench. No powder/primer containers are left out on the bench. I have popped primers in a progressive primer magazine. It's best to have the powder secured.....just in case.

    I guess that's about it.

    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  4. benenglish

    benenglish Lifetime Supporter Staff Member Lifetime Member Admin

    Nov 22, 2011
    New reloaders owe it to themselves to experiment with different case lubes. I realize that the old pads with sticky lube are mostly gone and replaced by spray applications. However, I'm surprised how many people have never tried wax. I find it much superior for small-batch reloading.

    IMPERIAL DIE WAX | Sinclair Intl
  5. Paul5388

    Paul5388 Active Member

    Feb 17, 2013
    Rusk County
    The last two stuck cases I had were lubed with Imperial and Hornady One Step. I would just as soon use Kiwi Mink Oil, lanolin, RCBS II (it's water based), or some of the other weird concoctions I have laying around, like this:

    I still have brass that smells like original RCBS that was oil based and it hasn't hurt a thing! It was only a couple of years ago that I got my first tumbler that I rarely use. It was a waste of money, because shiny brass doesn't shoot any better than brass with a patina. Keep your brass out of the dirt and it won't need polishing.

    If you think ammunition is always climate controlled, think about the ammunition that was stored outside of St. Louis in caves, or in the jungles. Most of the enemies are in our heads, not in the climate.

    My RCBS Rock Chucker is 40 years old and has never been dismantled for lubrication or anything else. A chip brush will take care of most cleaning. Then a shot of WD-40 on the ram takes care of the rest.

    My son has a gun that was mine that went through Carla in 1961 in Lake Jackson that is still rust free due to using 30 Wt motor oil on it (HD or ND either one will work). In those days we stored guns in the closet, not a gun safe!

    I have a progressive that I rarely use, mainly because I don't trust it. I think that's a healthy attitude to have towards them.
  6. Dawico

    Dawico Uncoiled Lifetime Member

    Oct 15, 2009
    Lampasas, Texas
    My RockChucker had a couple thousand cycles when it started to drag. I tore it apart and found galling on one of the arms. I smoothed it up and regreased it. Good as new. It may have missed the grease gun at the factory but apparently it does happen. It is a part that few people ever think about I think.

    As far as the progressive goes, I still inspect every case and charge. Treat it like a race and you will have issues.
  7. Stumpnav

    Stumpnav Member

    Mar 2, 2013
    One kind of powder on the bench at a time.

    i used to keep my powder right next to the bench, pull what I wanted to use, pour it into the powder measure and put the jug back with the rest. I would leave it in the measure until I was done with that batch of ammo which might be an hour or spread over a week or more depending on how much time I had to devote to loading. One time I went out to the bench and was unsure what powder I had in the measure. Not wanting to take any chances I dumped it out and started over.

    since then, I have made a place for a jug of powder on my bench. I leave the jug there as long as I have that powder in the measure. That way I never have any doubt as to what powder I am working with.
  8. Paul5388

    Paul5388 Active Member

    Feb 17, 2013
    Rusk County
    The solvents that are still in powder can do damage to your hopper, so I normally dump mine back in the container it came from. I messed up almost a pound of Titegroup by having more than one powder container on the bench. :(
  9. Texasjack

    Texasjack TGT Addict TGT Supporter

    Jan 3, 2010
    Occupied Texas
    They use Folgers coffee at work and I brought home several of the empty containers to store brass (esp. pistol brass). I put a label on the top of each container so that I can keep them segregated and still know what's inside.

    Cases don't need to be cleaned to a mirror polish (though sometimes I will leave them in the machine until they are shiny).

    I bought a dollar-store strainer and it fits nicely on a plastic bucket that dog food came in. I dump out the polishing media into the strainer and it catches the brass while the media goes into the bucket to be re-used.

    I keep good records of what I load and any problems I might have with a particular load (so it can be avoided). I also mark every reloaded box. I have a cheap roll of orange dot stickers for targets and they make great stickers for the boxes so I know the weight of the bullet and the amount and type of powder used.

    To lube rifle cartridges, I lay them on an old piece of newspaper, give them a quick spray, then roll them 1/2 turn as a group. If some are still dry on that side, I give the group another quick spray. Don't over-lube cases or you start getting them with bad dents.

    Make sure you have extra de-capper pins. If you don't, sure enough one will snap or bend in the middle of a reloading project.

    I got one of those metal templates that has the length cut out for a whole bunch of different cartridges. Makes it easy to check for ones you might have to trim.

    The inertial bullet puller is your friend! If you make a mistake, or thing you might have, pull the bullet and start over!
  10. Shorts

    Shorts TGT Addict TGT Supporter

    Mar 28, 2008
    I was curious if these are acceptable. (I saw a Lyman's case length gauge at Bass Pro). This would be easier for me to use instead of calipers since I can't hold both in one hand.

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