Wheels for 21st Century Workbench?

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Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 07-21-2010 02:24 AM 7731 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7796 posts in 3393 days

07-21-2010 02:24 AM

Anyone have any suggestions of the appropriate wheels for this heavy duty workbench? I just picked up the 8/4 Ash at the lumber yard and find a need (to save available lumber) to cut legs at 29-30” instead of the 31” in the plans. My rough cut logs would “just” make 30” legs, not considering kerf/cuts. This got me thinking about mounting this beast on casters. If I add casters then I can “short” the legs a couple of inches and not miss a beat. Any ideas for the best casters to do this?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

7 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3553 days

#1 posted 07-21-2010 02:57 AM

My workbench exceeds 600 lbs. I built it in place (with no casters) and it will remain in its current location for as long as I live.

Forget casters and put another 1 or 2 layers of MDF on the top. Weight is good.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Rob Bois's profile

Rob Bois

33 posts in 3873 days

#2 posted 07-21-2010 03:23 AM

I built the 21st Century workbench a few years back (in fact I documented the whole thing in video here. One of the greatest benefits of any bench is the sheer heft as rich pointed out. The sheer mass of a bench keeps it from moving as you apply force to it particularly when hand planing. Putting casters on the legs pretty much negates the entire point of making this thing heavy. Most folks tend to build around their benches, making hand tools easily accessible so they don’t have to move it around. My shop (at least when I built my bench) was about 250 SF – every other tool in the shop was on wheels, but the bench stayed put.

View BobLang's profile


172 posts in 3879 days

#3 posted 07-21-2010 02:07 PM

The few times I’ve needed to move my bench more than a few feet, I’ve lifted up one end at a time then slid in a four-wheel furniture dolly under the stretcher between the legs. Chris recently posted a good way to add casters that will allow the legs to sit on the floor. I feel compelled to advise you not to set the thing permanently on wheels. Without the wheels it’s a bench, with the wheels it’s a cart and you won’t be able to do much work on it if it’s scooting around the shop.

I see two other solutions that make a lot more sense than adding casters. Why not go get another board or two to make the legs? It won’t cost as much as the casters, and will let the bench sit solidly on the floor. If you’re determined not to buy any more wood, put a square block of something or other under each leg to raise the height.

Bob Lang

-- Bob Lang,

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4606 days

#4 posted 07-21-2010 02:34 PM

I work outside whenever possible.
My outdoor benches are made from split logs and are left outside. I frequently dope my benches with left-over finishing products, esp. tung oil based finishes. Some of my rustic benches have sat out in the extremes of Northern Kentucky weather for more than 10 years.

When I need to move my big benches, I use a set of piano dollies.

These dollies have an “L” shaped steel support that slips under the object you are moving. The wheels are on a bar that rotates down for rolling the object. Straps are used to secure the dollies to the object.

I’m assuming they are still available.
I’ve seen these dollies for rent at local moving equipment suppliers.

I bought my piano dollies in the late 1960’s when I was playing in bands. I had to move a monster Hammond B-3 Organ to gigs. Now a play harmonicas that I can carry in my pocket. Harmonicas – musical hand tools!

-- 温故知新

View swirt's profile


4142 posts in 3450 days

#5 posted 07-21-2010 04:18 PM

Chris Schwarz approach seemed pretty nice (the one BobLang showed).

-- Galootish log blog,

View HorizontalMike's profile


7796 posts in 3393 days

#6 posted 07-21-2010 05:24 PM

Thanks for the replies. It makes sense to have the bench immovable while working. I think I’ll nix the wheels idea for now.

As far as the flip-under wheel setup. I don’t think I want to lift half of a 400-500lb. bench while standing on one foot while sticking my other foot under the board with the wheels and singing Dixie at the same time. Not sure it would do this old man’s back any good, much less an errant toe! Neat idea if there was a safer way of engaging/disengaging the wheels.

As far as leg height, I lengthened the legs and shortened the length of the top by 1 1/2” So problem solved. BTW, it is a 100mile round trip for me to visit the lumberyard so I was not too enthused at the prospects of returning just to pick up 1 or 2 more boards.

Hey, I have got to give my local lumberyard guy (BlueLinx Hardwoods, San Antonio, TX) some well earned kudos for how well he estimated my first project’s 8/4 lumber needs:
And he did nearly all of this in his head while looking at the material list of cut pieces! I worked this up on CorelDraw after I got back home.

Q: Two of my 8/4×10’ are 9” wide. Do you think I can get by setting my 8” jointer fence to just over 4 1/2” and running the board once over and rotating it horizontally just to flatten it enough for ripping on the TS after squaring the edge first?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View swirt's profile


4142 posts in 3450 days

#7 posted 07-21-2010 05:45 PM

It’s a physics thing…if the lift one end of the bench, you are lifting less than half of its weight. The higher you lift, the more weight shifts to the other set of legs. But I see your point. That’s a heavy bench.

There is actually a way to make that safer … at least not involving putting the toes at risk. A movable counter weight on each flip device. Move the counter weight to one side and it makes it so when you lift the bench, the wheels are forced by the counterweight under the bench legs. Move the counterweight to the other side of the flip device and when you lift the bench it forces the wheels out of the way so the bench can be put back on its feet. But that might be a little more work than you had in mind. It all depends on how badly you need to move the bench.

-- Galootish log blog,

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