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Low Cost DIY Shooting Bench

I retired a couple of years ago, moving out of the Phoenix area and back to Northern Minnesota where I grew up.  It's nice to be back living in the country.  Whereas I belonged to a shooting club when I lived in Phoenix, I now have plenty of land where I can shoot anytime. 

I was texting with my nephew a couple of weeks ago to verify his plans for deer hunting.  He asked if I had a shooting bench as he needed to sight in a rifle.  While I didn't have one at that time, I told him I'd have one available by the time he arrived.  A shooting bench was on my to-do list as I'd grown tired of the makeshift setup I was using that involved a couple of saw horses and some plywood.  His need for one moved it to the top of the list.  I was pretty sure I had most everything I needed so it was really just a matter of putting it together.

I had recently purchased a Woodland Hills stump grinder online and it was shipped in a metal crate.  As I unpacked it, I told myself that this crate wasn't going to be scrapped as it had potential for being a portable work bench.  At that point in time, I wasn't thinking of a portable shooting bench but after my nephew's question, I realized it was the perfect candidate for a shooting bench.

metal shipping crate

This is the metal shipping crate less the cardboard box that covered it.  It was constructed using  angle iron, flat stock, and tubular steel.  There were 4 tabs welded around the top section that may have been used to allow stacking of the crates.

The crate's dimensions are 29"x37" and also 37" tall.  The angle iron measures 1.5"x1.5"x0.125".  The tubular steel used as skids on the bottom of the crate are 2"x4" and the same thickness as the angle iron.  The flat stock is just over 1" wide.  The crated weighs just short of 50 pounds.  It was apparently strong enough to support the 432 pound stump grinder. 

metal crate bolts 

The metal crate consisted of two sections, an upper frame and a lower base, held together with just 4 bolts in the lower corners.  At first, I considered using just the upper section as a 4 legged table.  While lighter in weight, it lacked the stability needed for a shooting bench.  Adding more bracing to the upper section seemed counter productive given I had the base section available.

tab removal and cleanup 

The 4 tabs that were welded along the edge of the stop section were removed with a reciprocating saw and cleaned up with an angle grinder.  They are smooth enough that no one will slice a finger on a sharp edge.  When the weather warms next summer, I'll paint the entire frame to prevent rusting.

plywood top cutout 

With the metal crate now reassembled, it was time to tackle the bench surface.  Since this was a DIY project using repurposed/scrap materials, I found a piece of used 1/2" plywood in the corner of the garage that just happened to be the right width.....who says you can't get lucky every once in a while!   The 52" length was long enough to provide the required space to make the obligatory cutout necessary for a shooting bench.

Since both my nephew and I are right handed, I penciled in a line, using a 5 gallon bucket lid as a template, on the left corner of the plywood.  A short run with the jig saw removed the unwanted wood.  I marked the location for two holes, along both sides, to attach the plywood to the angle iron top of the crate.  On the off chance that this might be used by a left handed shooter at some time, I mirrored the bolt holes so I could simply flip the plywood top to accommodate him or her.  Easy enough to do. 

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