How to Make Retractable Casters!

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Introduction: How to Make Retractable Casters!

About: I'm an environmentally conscious experimenter who loves to bring people together, build things, and when possible...blow things up! See us on YouTube too! https://youtube.com/WildmanTech

Like many makers, I have a lot of everything except space. To make things more accessible, I put everything on wheels. My tablesaw was a real problem until I saw retractable casters on a work bench. Once I saw how easy they were to make, my mission was clear.

Step 1: Tool and Materials

Tools

  • Hacksaw (I used a metal cutting bandsaw)
  • Drill and bits
  • Welder

Materials

  • Casters
  • 1/4" allthread coupler nuts
  • 1.25" square tubing
  • 1 x 2" rectangle tubing
  • 1/4 x 2" bolt or cap screw

Step 2: Make Carrier Bodies

Cut square tubing to make carrier bodies to hold the casters and the locking levers. Whereas most casters are top-mount, these will be side-mount. There will be four mounting holes in the side to bolt this carrier to the equipment. There will also be two pivot holes. One for the caster and one for the locking lever. The critical element is that the caster pivot be close to the equipment, and the lever pivot be farther away.

Step 3: Add a Pivot Point to the Casters

Drill out the allthread coupler nuts to 1/4" so a 1/4" bolt will pass through them and they will spin freely. Install them in the carrier body and make sure they don't bind against anything. Once that is done, see if your caster mount plates can reach the coupler nuts. Mine were too wide and had to be cut to make clearance.

Once you have the fit right, weld the coupler nuts to the caster mount plates and install them in the carrier body. Hold the carrier body against a mock-up equipment leg and see if you have enough play. I was shooting for 1/2" and I got it.

Step 4: Add the Locking Lever

Cut the 1 x 2" rectangle tubing into a shape that you're happy with and test fit it to your carrier body. The key to making this work is that there be a heel on the locking lever that extends past the lever pivot point toward the caster pivot point. If you get it right, the weight of the equipment will keep the locking lever held firmly in place.

Step 5: Watch the Video

This video explains the process better.

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    30 Comments

    That depends on how resourceful you are. I paid retail for the casters and only spent $15 on everything. If you scavenge the casters off something being thrown away, you could make it for free.

    Looks like a great idea. Can you tell me what make the power hacksaw is?

    4 replies

    No power hacksaw was used.

    Thanks Marsh, I should have called it a metal cutting bandsaw I think. Anyway whatever the machine is that you are using in your video.

    It's knock-off of the Milwaukee Portaband. Got it on craigslist for $30.

    Nicely done I really like these. going to keep this in mind for the next shop.

    You could make that hinged body with a piece of 14 gauge by 1" wide strap folded over a 1/4'' bolt and formed. Be sure to allow sufficient length after folding it to cover the whole caster plate. A hammer, vise, vise-grip pliers and a blunt cold chisel are all the tools you would need to make those straps.

    Nice work, sir! I need six of these for our model railroad layout. Sadly, I dont have the toils to do it. Those Rockler casters are pricey.

    2 replies

    A hacksaw, a file and a drill can do most of the work involved here. I suspect you could figure out a way to do it without welding. This is an opportunity for a personal challenge.

    Should be fairly easy to do without a welder. Just need a bit of imagination (use a door hinge instead of the pivot he welded? Of another piece of square tube slightly larger or smaller that could be cut and drilled.)

    Liked your instructable. Also wished my brain worked as well as yours

    Regards Mally

    Actually, in this case, "Caster" is the correct spelling; "Castor" is a star in the Gemini constellation!

    It's also a bean that you can extract oil from to keep your internal plumbing flowing smoothly. ;-)

    It's also a good lubricating oil for low temperature applications. It used to be the main lubricant used in internal combustion engines, but it has a tendency to form varnish from engine-level heat and so has long since been supplanted by petroleum-based oils.

    Also the source of the deadly holotoxin ricin, recently made famous by the TV show we watched because we hated the protagonist so much...Breaking Bad.

    The use of castor oil, generally not fully de-ricinated, had detrimental health effects on WW-1 pilots. They were generally breathing their engines' exhaust and the lucky ones got away with only having somewhat loose bowels

    Actually, 'castor' is also correct for the plant and the oil from its seeds. It's also the name of the zoological genus comprising beavers.