I've got a big hand-me-down bench that's handy as a large horizontal surface, but its large size limits where I can put it in the shop. There have been a number of times I wished I could move it, even temporarily, to make room for one thing or another. Now that I have hard surfaced floors, I'm on a mission to make a lot of my tools movable. The bench was next.
I picked up a batch of cast iron casters with rubber tires on sale at Harbor Freight a few weeks ago. They're rated at 300 pounds each, so I figured four of them would handle anything I might load on the bench. Putting the casters on was no problem, but I wanted a way to put the bench down on its original feet when I'm not moving it. I saw something similar a few years ago on one of the woodworking forums, so this is an adaptation of someone else's idea.
My "mobile base" consists of a scrap 4x4 stringer bolted to the inside of the bench legs. Attached to that with a pair of door hinges is a scrap 2x4, and mounted to that are the casters. When the wheels are in the "down" position, the legs are about 1/2" off the ground. These pics show one end of the bench. The other end is the same.
Here's a shot from the inside. The hook and eye screw prevent the hinged portion from folding when moving the bench and dropping the bench back down on the legs. DAMHIKT. The big empty eye screw will be explained in the next pic.
To switch from "mobile" to "fixed", I hook a bungee cord to the large eye screw on the hinged 2x4, wrap it under the contraption and hook it to a hole in the table apron.
I don't have a sophisticated lift system, but the ol' Handyman jack does the trick.
Once it gets high enough (about 2 clicks of the jack), the wheels swing around, and the bench is ready to be set back down on its feet. (Sorry for the poor focus...I was holding the jack with one hand, and shooting without a flash with the other.)
Back down on terra firma, it's as if the wheels were not there at all. (Except the stringer adds some rigidity to the bench that wasn't there before.)
And another inside shot, showing the feet are indeed all the way to the floor. No tricks or mirrors.
The bungee is not quite tight enough to keep the wheels up firmly, so I use the hook latch to add a little tension to things.
The bench goes back on the wheels by reversing this process. I just unhook the bungee and wrap it the opposite direction around the hinged part, jack it up a couple clicks, and the wheels go into place, although they don't snap into position the way I'd like them to. My goal is to make it so that I can simply lift the end of the bench (without the jack) for a a second and have the wheels snap either up or down, depending on the bungee orientation. I plan to play around with the placement of the bungee cord to see if a different angle (farther under the table) might work better. Still, even as it is, it solves the mobilization problem for me, despite the rather jury-rigged appearance.