Cole Hardware Hotline Online

The following is a test -- read it all the way through and you're an official hardware geek. (That's a compliment!)

CASTERS are used for mobility and convenience.
Use and Types | Choosing Casters | Installation | Caster Duty Classifications

 dolly
Furniture and Plant Dolly
12" X 18" wooden frame dolly with 360-pound load capacity. Four swivel casters with 3" rubber wheels.
    Take a careful look at the infrastructure in your daily life -- it's all held together, held up or otherwise made functional by hardware. Before the computer (BC), "hardware" commonly referred to metal goods and utensils, such as locks, pulls and hinges.

    Hardware is categorized by application: door and window hardware (hinges, locks, pulls), cabinet hardware (knobs and pulls, hinges, catches), drapery hardware (rods, rings, hooks) and so on. Some types of hardware, e.g., chains, hooks and hinges, are common to many applications. Fasteners, including screws, nuts and bolts, nails and anchors, are integral to the application of most other hardware.

    Then there's utility hardware, a general category that includes shelf hardware (brackets and standards), support hardware (braces and plates) and casters.

Use and Types

    Casters make sedentary objects movable, serving that crucial function from home and office through industrial applications.

    A caster is a complete wheel and horn assembly which, when attached to a piece of equipment, furniture or appliance, allows it to move. Casters are commonly used in household and workshop settings for mobility and convenience, e.g., to move and clean around appliances, beds, tool chests, planters, workbenches and shelving units. Casters are indispensable to a wide range of industrial applications.

    There are two basic categories of caster. Swivel casters have a swivel horn and wheel assembly that will rotate 360 degrees. Rigid or stationary casters have a rigid horn and wheel assembly permitting only straight line travel.

    In addition, casters are divided into two types. Stem casters (also insert casters) use a socket adapter, which is typically inserted into a hole in the bottom of a furniture leg. The stem of the caster then slides into the socket. The top end of the socket snaps into a small ridge in the stem. (Also available as one molded insert unit that adapts to a standard inside diameter hole.)

    Plate casters are designed to be attached to furniture or equipment with screws or bolts.

 ball caster

Ball casters swivel easily, roll smoothly on carpet and hardwood floors, fit in well with many types of decor.
Choosing Casters

    Casters are available in a large variety of treads, materials and sizes, from light-duty household casters to extra heavy-duty casters for commercial and factory applications. Larger and higher-quality casters are generally stronger, provide more efficient movement, and have a longer service life. Ideally, the type and size of caster chosen should be based on these considerations:
  • Total overall weight of the load.
  • Floor surface and condition.
  • How it is attached to equipment, furniture, etc.
  • Amount of use.
  • Type of movement (linear or multidirectional).
  • Environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures or moisture, and exposure to chemicals, salt, oil, etc.
  • Shock loading and other physical impacts.
  • Noise when caster is in operation.
    Wheel type is another major consideration. Casters are available in numerous wheel types and materials. Ball casters swivel easily and roll smoothly on carpet and hardwood floors. Wide wheel casters spread weight over a broader floor area, and are thus less likely to mar softer floor surfaces. Conventional wheel casters combine maneuverability and ease of maintenance within a full range of duty ratings.

    Your choice of wheel material should correspond with the type of floor surface and application. Soft rubber wheels are recommended for asphalt tile, hardwood floors, etc. Non-marking plastic wheels are recommended for rugs and carpeted floors. Metal wheels are desirable where casters will carry heavy loads or where protection of the flooring is not important. (Note: casters attached to a heavy appliance that stays in one location -- e.g., a refrigerator -- are likely to leave imprints in soft vinyl floor coverings.)

Caster Installation
To install a stem caster:
  1. Drill hole to manufacturer's specifications into the center of the furniture leg.
  2. Tap socket in with a hammer.
  3. Push caster into the socket until it locks.


stem caster installation

Installing a Stem Caster
To install a plate caster:
  1. Center plate and mark screw holes.
  2. Drill starter holes (smaller in diameter than screws).
  3. Start all screws first and make final adjustments to the plate before tightening.
plate caster installation

Installing a Plate Caster


Caster duty classifications

Light duty: 75-145 lbs. For service carts and other light equipment in offices, homes, etc., where floors are smooth, operation is manual and loads are light.

Light medium duty: 125-300 lbs. For somewhat heavier loads, where operation is manual and floors are smooth.

Medium duty: 200-575 lbs. For light warehouse trucks, etc., where operation is manual and frequent, and floors are smooth.

Heavy medium duty: 300-1000 lbs. For commercial, industrial and institutional applications, using manual or intermittent power, over smooth floors.

Heavy duty: 540-2000 lbs. For commercial and factory applications, with manual or intermittent power on relatively smooth surfaces which may have minor obstacles.

Extra heavy duty: 800-2500 lbs. Used for commercial and factory applications.

- Hardware Hotline  March, 2001