Organize your reloading dies! Cheap, Easy, DIY!
I have a cheap simple solution to the stack of boxes that hold your dies and shell holders and you can make one too! The idea started when I was stacking some scraps of wood for my fire pit. I arranged a simple step design and took a few pictures. My dad is a carpenter by trade so I sent him the pictures with an idea of some dimensions.
I needed a base about 1-1/2″ tall and 3/4″ tall steps that measure 1-1/2″ deep for each step. I sent him a picture with three layers and he set off creating one for me. This project can use whatever you have lying around, an old 2×4 or whatever scraps you might have. It does not have to be in a layered formation. A plain block of wood will work just fine!
The next day I get a picture from my dad of the creation. It looked exactly like what I was looking for. The layers measured out to what I needed, and of course he had to make sure the finish was sanded and looked good. He takes pride in his work. At this point the block needed to be drilled out. We fired up the drill press and set off finding the correct size bit. Standard reloading dies are 7/8″ thread so I wanted to go 1/16″ larger so they would easily slip in and out of their new home. Now the 15/16″ bit we had was not designed to cut a flat bottom so we were going to use the 7/8″ bit to make the first pass and cut a flat base for the die then make a second cut with the 15/16″ bit to open up the hole without cutting into the bottom of the wood. This is where my project went a bit wrong. What we thought was a 7/8″ bit was actually a 1″ bit and we over-bored the first hole; actually, all the holes… however this was not a problem. The dies will just fit even easier now, and they did have a nice flat surface to sit against inside the block that now looked like the bottom side of a Lego. I grabbed my block, drove home and headed for the reloading bench to test out my new project.
When I arrived, sure enough the dies plopped right in no problem. They do have a bit of extra room but they will be sitting stationary on my bench and I’m not worried if they have room to wiggle around. Sitting on the flat bottom of the hole they are pretty solid against movement. I decided to take a 1/8″ bit and drill further into the block for pins that protrude like decapping pins so the dies would still sit flat on the bottom.
I set all three sets of dies in my block and they all stood in their new home looking great, I looked in each die box and soon realized I had overlooked a key piece of the puzzle. Shellholders! “What am I going to do with these?” I pondered. I took out my calipers and took a quick measurement. .556″ is what they read. A phone call and a short drive later I was holding another drill bit in my hand, only this time in front of my own drill press. I chucked it up, measured out center of the small amount left on the edge of the block, and put a new hole in each step of the block, one shell holder per set of dies. I go back to the bench and set everything back into their home. Looked into the die boxes again to find another piece in need of a new location. Two Lee priming arms, (large and small primer), and a Hornady bullet seating stem. Back out with the calipers, the Lee priming cups both measured .245″; perfect for a 1/4″ bit. Then the Hornady stem, calipers measured .300″, perfect for a 5/16″ bit! I drilled holes for each arm on the lower and middle step, then the Hornady seating stem up top next to the Hornady 7mm WSM dies. One last look at the now empty die boxes and the now full reloading die block. Perfect for keeping the bench organized and being able to swap calibers or operation without messing with stacks of die boxes. Priming arms are easy to reach and shell holders are ready to go.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of how to improve your work area or stay busy on a rainy weekend. I do have a few suggestions to make the block an even better design. I would have liked to had a 2″ thick lower step so I could drill deeper and set the dies down onto the lock rings which would make them more stable. Good luck with your own design and please comment if you further improve this simple and cheap project for keeping our always messy benches slightly more organized!