Shop Mobility Part II - Mobilizing Shop Built Tools
posted on January 26, 2012 by Ralph Bagnall

In the previous Shop Mobility blog post, we discussed adding casters to your existing tool stands. Now let’s look at adding wheels to the shop carts, tools and cabinets you build in house.

In my shop I have an older drill press that is too tall to be used on a benchtop, and too short for a floor model, so I built a short cabinet for it some time back. The simple box cabinet below on the left has no feet or toe kick, so making it mobile is no more complicated than adding four wheels to the bottom. The drill press never sees any real lateral force being applied, so there is no need to worry too much about keeping it still as it is being used. Simple swivel casters with locks can be used effectively here.

base cabinet for drill press base cabinet for router table

Tools like your router table, on the other hand, do need to resist moving when being used. As you are feeding a board through, especially when using feather boards, the wheels need to hold it in place. In cases like this, I prefer to mount two fixed casters under one side, and have feet on the opposite end. This allows my router table to be lifted from one side and rolled around much like a hand truck. Lifting one side reduces the effort of lifting, but having solid feet on the floor resists moving during use. In these cases, I prefer to bolt the casters through the base since the weight will be acting on the casters at an angle when moving.

close up of router table caster casters installed on sanding center

Typically, it is much better to design your shop built cabinet from the outset knowing how casters will be incorporated. This downdraft sanding center  I am building (above right) will need a wide stance so I added a base frame with the casters well outside the cabinet.  Chances are however, that you already have shop cabinets without them, and a purchased router table or the like that needs wheels. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to work with preexisting cabinets or boxes. Casters can be bought with mounting plates that can be screwed or bolted to a flat bottom. Others come with threaded studs for mounting. There are even caster brackets that provide a solid mounting point for boxes where the bottom is not flush with the sides.

specialty bracket for caster

Being able to quickly and easily move “stationary” tools out of the way, or rearrange your shop to suit a project will make the most of your shop space and let you spend more time working. Look for creative ways to make the shop tools you built go where you want them to.

posted on January 26, 2012 by Ralph Bagnall
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Comments

3 thoughts on “Shop Mobility Part II - Mobilizing Shop Built Tools”

  • Alex Gonzalez

    Oh yes. I am a firm believer in mobile shop carts, tables, machinery and even benches. It makes life so much easier no matter what scale you are operating. From the smallest shop to the largest woodworking facilities. It can assist in your production process by having little down time when shifting things around or when bringing material from one machine ton another or even by spinning an entire stack around to change its direction for milling. It also makes clean up time a snap in otherwise hard to get to areas. With so many cost effective options from simple casters to mobile base kits it makes no sense to be out of work with a back injury so mobilize yourself and increase production and safety.

    Alex G
    Finishing Touch Carpentry

  • Ralph Bagnall

    Thanks Alex, you are totally correct. Even in huge shops that I have worked in, some odd job will come along that requires moving things around. And custom woodshops especially need to be able to configure the work flow for each type of job.

    Ralph

  • Max Rounden Hobby Mill

    As far back as I can remember, my dad always had a mobile shop carts and when I got my own place he had made one for me which I still use. In fact I can not imagine being without one. Max R.

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