what diy mobile base/casters solution to pick?

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Forum topic by Spikes posted 05-08-2018 09:02 PM 2105 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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125 posts in 655 days

05-08-2018 09:02 PM


same story I guess, small workshop, lots of random/different project, so I’m trying to put pretty much everything on casters except for TS and outfeed/workbench which I have enough space for.

I’ve looked at various threads on LJ and I’m definitely not going to (mostly due to no $$):
- spend ~$50 for a set of release wheels like this
- make something like that myself by welding because I don’t have the equipment
- buy swivel wheels with brakes because my experience is that they end up wiggling anyway and double locking ones cost too much
- push a dolly under the table/tool base when I wanna move it (yes that was a suggestion in a thread and ppl liked it)

These are, as far as I can see, all the diy/cheap approaches I could find from the other threads and google searches that make sense to me and they and they boil down to:

- a lever that pulls the tool up onto a frame
- a lever that releases the wheels
- simple blocks kicked to push down the block holding the wheels.

See videos/links I collected with examples:

I’d love to hear the community’s opinion on pro and cons of such systems. One thing I’m leaning toward tho is any of the systems that are foot activated compared to having to use a level by hand (#3 is my fav and it also has a sketchup file on the warehouse). #5 has a version I can’t find the link for where the levers are inward toward the middle of the bench and held down by a knob. Still, you have to bend down to engage/disengage and so not thrilled by it.

thanks all,


-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

9 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2135 posts in 772 days

#1 posted 05-08-2018 11:29 PM

if you feel ambitious, make one of each for your equipment
and see which one you like the best – then make them all uniform to suit you.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 655 days

#2 posted 05-08-2018 11:36 PM

thanks John, I thought about that, I also thought about adding simple casters as a start to actually verify which tools would give me troubles with that… for example a jointer vs a drill press would probably rock the base differently as pressure is applied etc.

Still this community has been amazing so far and I’m always up for avoiding mistakes that others already have already learned from.

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


725 posts in 2071 days

#3 posted 05-08-2018 11:40 PM

I like #1 and #3. I agree that bending down or getting on my hands and knees like #5 to activate it is not going to happen.

So everything in my shop is on wheels, except my lathe and bench. Lathe will soon be on a moble base, and the bench I have no intention of moving. Like your shop, I have room to leave my bench, and table saw in one place.
I have used two types of store bought basses, and they both IMHO, are a total waste of money.
The 1st is that rockler workbench castor kit you mentioned. the second is this one.
Run from both of these.
One of the best ideas that I have seen here on LJ, again IMHO, is to build a pallet that your tool is bolted to, and use a small pallet jack to move things as needed. I may still go with that idea for the tools using the rockler bases. I am 6’-5” and the little added height from the pallet would work for me.
I really like #1 for my lathe. I was already looking at the idea pictured below. A cam lift idea.
I have the same lathe pictured here. It is a bit heavy and the video for #1 shows him picking the bench up to set the wheels in place. So the cam style will probably win. Still more or less the same basic idea.
Also, my shop floor has expansion joints in the concrete. All the wheels on store bought mobile bases are to small.
Think about going with 3” wheels if you have this issue too.
And I have had good luck with harbor freight castors. They are affordable, and good enough for tools that get moved a few feet every now and then.
I have used a 17” makita planer at a friends shop. It is on a 2X4 stand with locking castors, and I am amazed that it does not move around when in use.
A mobile base under a drill press has been discussed here a few times. Several feel that it is to top heavy and would become tippy on a mobile base. But I made one that works very well. If you would like to see it go to my projects page. My drill press is attached to the base, so it becomes one piece. The castors have no locks. Use the castors off the cheap harbor freight furniture dolly. rolls good enough when I need it to, but clunky enough that it stays put while I am using it.
good luck.

-- John

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6054 posts in 3018 days

#4 posted 05-09-2018 03:08 AM

All of those ideas will work, how well for you as John suggested is to try them out. My approach to what type of mobile base is based on a number of factors. Primary is weight, how often I think it will be moved, and what does the tool / cabinet do or store. i.e. a planer feeds a certain direction we need a base that does not move with the feed.

If something is heavy spend the time and money to insure your investment is protected with a quality base. I had mine welded up by a friend and spent the saved cash on 400 lb casters, wheels and 600 lb levelers.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View GrantA's profile


2133 posts in 2017 days

#5 posted 05-09-2018 11:55 AM

By the time you buy casters you’ll be looking back to see if you actually saved money over a ready to roll solution. The grizzly bear crawl has good ratings and is at a good price point. I have a portamate pm3500 on my 12” jointer and my 5 year old daughter could roll it around the shop. It was about $140 but I also have used the pm2500 (more like $80) on my old 6” jointer and can’t say enough good things about them. I need to get one for my drill press, will probably try their cheapest one for that, pm1000.

View PeteStaehling's profile


102 posts in 1729 days

#6 posted 05-09-2018 12:24 PM

Depending on the weight of the equipment there is a quick, simple, cheap, and easy method that I use. It requires lifting one end slightly when moving but most of my equipment is light enough for that to work so it may not be the best for very heavy items, but it works pretty well for a lot of things in my shop. For heavier items you can put on a lever arm that slides out of the way when not needed.

View Kelly's profile


2639 posts in 3553 days

#7 posted 05-10-2018 03:56 PM

I have at least twelve carts with casters on them. Buying casters from other than Harbor Freight could get expensive REAL quick, so I stay with the larger HF casters.

I also have a set of the push down casters from Rockler (they were on sale for around forty) for my work bench and I love them. However, forty to sixty a cart is way too much.

My little dust collector gave up its tiny casters when I replaced them with lawn mower wheels, so I could wheel it out into the yard, along with the Super Dust Deputy, for pine cone duty.

Then there are the commercial unites under the bandsaw, drum-disk sander, long bed jointer. Add to that a few of the Costco bakers racks.

In my case, mobility of equipment isn’t because of room limitations, it for ease of “man cave furniture re-arranging.”

Rarely, swivels on the front and non-swivels on the back work for steerability. However, I, more often than not, myself pushing forward, then going straight back in a tight spot. For those situations, swivels all around work far better.

Most the swivels I install have locks, but I rarely have to use them. In fact, I never set them on the spindle sander, the drum sander, router table, over-arm pin router, Router Crafter, [small] lathe, four wheel grinder and so on. I do use the drop down feature of the Rockler ones for the bench, however.

Building instructions for my carts:

View runswithscissors's profile


3081 posts in 2634 days

#8 posted 05-13-2018 09:51 PM

The trouble with locking casters is that much of the time the locking lever ends up hidden under the tool. I have made my own tilt down caster systems, but they aren’t a thing of beauty. I also sometimes simply build in the casters to the machine’s base.

I have welded up machine bases, but learned early on that miters in metal fabrication have to be cut very precisely, or else you get a warped base.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Kelly's profile


2639 posts in 3553 days

#9 posted 05-14-2018 01:36 AM

Re “The trouble with locking casters is that much of the time the locking lever ends up hidden under the tool.. . . .,” a big thumbs up to that.

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