The Shamanic Reloading Cave

I’ve mentioned the Shamanic Reloading Cave over the years. You may or may not have this idea of it. Occasionally I’ve even taken a picture or two inside of it. However, y’all probably have never really seen it. In reality it never fully existed, at least not as a single entity. The reloading bench was down next to the freezer. The gun vault was in the back of a closet. I had another bench for gunsmithing elsewhere in the basement, near the computer bench. Stuff was stored hither and thither.

All that is changing. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months, the biggest part of my free time has been spent trying to prepare to move. After Dad died, we found ourselves heavy on houses. I’m in the process of clearing out of the house KYHillChick, Angus, and I have been living in for years. I’m moving into Dad’s house.

I’m re-carving up the house where it is possible to do so.  My apartment, left over from when I was still living at home is being re-purposed for Angus.  What used to be my workshop will end up being my reloading cave.

I ran through a lot of ideas. Time and money were the constraints. I really did not want to spend a whole big wad on another gun vault. Truth is I started reading up on it and found out it would cost about $30,000 to actually protect my deer rifles from a half-hour’s worth of normal house fire. That is much more than the collection is worth. You know me. I don’t spend a whole lot of money on guns. I make the most out of scratch-n-dent stuff. I therefore opted to simply build a decent-sized gun case against one wall and let it go at that. Fire? That’s what insurance is for. Theft? I discovered fiendish means of keeping them safe. Most of all, I just wanted to keep them out of the way as my inventory of grand kids grows.

The reloading bench and the gunsmithing bench are both fairly pedestrian. They are cobbled together from scraps gathered over a lifetime of scrounging. The cabinets come from dead relatives. One base cabinet comes from my grandmother’s kitchen that was cleaned out when Kennedy was still president. I have shelves my Dad bought in Nixon’s first term.

I suppose I could write this like one of those old Popular Mechanics articles “Build this Man Cave . . “, but truth is I would not want to necessarily recommend my way of doing it  to a guy starting fresh.  Everyone has their own space.  Everyone does not have access to an endless supply of free 2X6. What I will give you is some ideas on how I did it from a philosophical standpoint.

I started out by sitting down in the space and trying to visualize how I was going to work.  What I figured out was that the reloading bench could be on a wall perpendicular to the ‘smithing bench, but not across the room.  Furthermore the gunsmithing bench had to be where I could get to the sides, and that one side had to look out down the longest length of the basement so that I could bore-sight a rifle scope when necessary. It was going to be tight.  If I did what I was planning on and hinged the doors on the gun cabinet so they swung up, I had to have all that space clear.  I did it that way, by the way, so I’d not have to plan clearance to either side.  The room plan was filled with gotchas from the beginning.  I had to scrub one plan after another until I found the best mix.  It was a lot of compromises.  I had to shorten the length of the gun cabinet by a foot.  I’d had to move a filing cabinet into another room.  When I finally moved the reloading bench in and put it in place, the door of the gun cabinet missed it by less than an inch.

The compromises bought me some things I did not expect.  I built a stud wall on one side that was 2X6 and not 2X4.  However, that gave me enough space to use the space between the studs as storage.  I ditched the plan to drywall the inside, and I’m cutting scraps of plywood to use as shelves. I had to cut a foot off the gun cabinet, but that gave me room for a gun safe. I did not have room for the filing cabinet, but I had metal shelving to go in its place.

You figure that I started planning all this back in April, just after Turkey Season.  I did not start hammering until July.  My admonition is that if you are going to work efficiently in just a 10X10 space, take your time and do not rush into things.  A buddy of mine harrumphed and said I should have done it all in CAD before hand.  Yes, but  CAD would have led me down its share of bunny holes as well.  What I needed was to stretch out in the space and try to reach for things and see where it got me.

Great Grandpa was  the head carpenter for May & Company up in Cleveland.  My first memory of him was teaching me what a chisel was. I was 2 at the time.  By age 14 I was doing all the maintenance at my Dad’s apartments.  When it came to handsome or handy, I never had to worry about which side of the fence I was on.  The problem is age is starting to creep up on me.  I am afflicted with middle-aged sensibilities.  I can remember my Grandfathers going to the hardware store and fuming.  “Pay that much for a little thing like that!!!”  As I priced out hardware for some of my ideas, I was flummoxed. The idea of drawers, done up the right way for the under-space in the gun cabinet almost doubled the cost of the project.

I found $.80 casters at Harbor Freight.  Instead of drawers I am going to build a . . . well, it’s a bin.  I get free 2X6X10 at work, so this is going to be a big heavy thing.  It will roll out on 6 casters. However, I am going to hold off until I am spoiling around for something to do over the Winter.  For now, I have plastic milk jug carriers that I can store under there.




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