Mobility makes almost everything better around the shop, which is why it’s always good to know where to find a cheap set of casters. More to the point, it’s not a bad idea to have a few of ’em sitting around in a box just in case you get inspired or decide to add mobility to an existing project.
My first port of call for cheap-ass casters is usually Harbor Freight, where you can get a set of 3″ poly casters (soft enough to avoid marring floors but hard enough to support a bit of weight) for just $4.50. They offer lots of other options in the same range, too, like a 3″ hard rubber version with a swivel and brake for $6 and a rubber-tired cast-iron model for $6 as well. They also offer larger casters, like this 8″ cushion tire (read: not pneumatic) for $18. My father chose that 8″ model for his roll-around welding table, and they worked great.
Of course, Harbor Freight works best if they have a store near you. Otherwise you might get bit on shipping, especially when you’re ordering mostly low-buck stuff like this. Ordering is also pretty inconvenient when you’re flying by the seat of your pants slapping something together in a hurry, like when we yanked the engine from Sean’s ill-fated shop truck. Sure, we could’ve shut down, headed down to the local shop, and spent a couple hundred bucks on an engine stand. But screw that. Instead we grabbed some 2x4s from the wood pile and six swivel casters from the bin and knocked together a stand in minutes.
If you don’t have a Harbor Freight nearby, you might also check your local Northern Tool, which sometimes runs specials on casters, driving them down into the Harbor Freight price range. Tractor Supply Co. is another possibility. They’re not quite as cheap, but offer an interesting selection, including some pretty nice-looking steel casters and some specialty hardware, too.
But seriously, if you’ve got $20 or $30 burning a hole in your pocket, you might just want to pick up four or six cheapie casters just to have around. When we finally unloaded the truck project, we unscrewed the six casters and put ’em back in the bin. They’ll see use again, I’ll bet.