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I am *again* looking for casters - should I consider Harbor Freight?

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  • I am *again* looking for casters - should I consider Harbor Freight?

    Seems like I have spent way too much time in my life seeking out and buying casters. As a general rule, the older I get the bigger are the caster wheels I choose. But I started saying that twenty years ago and I doubt my preferences have changed much.

    I'm making a cart for a 2x72" belt grinder. Couldn't possibly have more than 500 pounds total. This to roll around a finished concrete shop floor. Although I am trying to build in robust spark control, it is possible that some fairly hot sparks could find a wheel. I have no height constraint - the taller the casters, the shorter the legs.

    Anyway, I'm kind of short of money at the moment, so these aren't going to come from McMaster-Carr.

    I have a love-hate relationship with Harbor Freight Tools, but they do sell casters and apparently a lot of guys use them. I have idly looked at them passing by and I have always thought they looked way to cheaply made to actually go into one of my projects. But this time my requirements are so modest and the budget so constrained I am actually considering the possibility.

    Are there any HF casters that you prefer? Any horror stories? Of course I could read their reviews but one always wonders who wrote them.


  • #2
    HI, I have had casters from Princess Auto, Harbor Freight.s equivalent ,here in Canada. So far I have had no problems, However, I take their weight ratings with a big grain of salt and reckon on about half the ratings as my maximum usual expected loading. Regards David Powell.


    • #3
      Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
      Of course I could read their reviews but one always wonders who wrote them.

      I have not used any HF casters so cannot help there at all. Just a thought on the HF reviews however. I consider them to be some of the more honest ones on the on-line world. I usually look through them before I buy anything that is even a bit non-trivial from HF and find that there is always a mix of good and bad reviews. When you look at their lowest end products, some of the negative reviews are pretty brutal. It's pretty clear to me anyhow that they do not edit the reviews and I have read that HF actually contracts out the management of reviews to a third party company in an effort to keep them an honest reflection of what their customers say about the products. Just a thought, now back to casters.


      • #4
        Don't know where you're located but have you tried Surplus Center ?

        They've got tons of new surplus casters, only thing about them is the shipping is
        on the high side, I think they used to or still do sell on eBay but I can't seem to find
        them, the ebay shipping was a little better, went by burdensales or something like that.


        • #5
          I have never purchased any casters from HF so I can't comment about them.

          I don't think McMaster does it, but other well known sources sometimes have close-out sales. The last set of casters that I purchased for a shop project was such a close-out sale by Grainger. I got four wheels that normally were priced $25 or more for $4 each.

          It is worth a trip to their and perhaps another web site or three.
          Paul A.
          Golden Triangle, SE Texas

          And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
          You will find that it has discrete steps.


          • #6
            Last time I needed casters for a project like this I bought a furniture dolly from Harbor Freight. Thirteen bucks for four casters.


            • #7
              Those 1000lb rated dollies which were always $16.99 were $12.99 last time i bought a pair a month ago. They really will take 1000lb as long as you don't point load the wood slats. Can't buy two casters alone for that price


              • #8
                I have put 2 rigid and 2 swivel 3" HF casters on my band saw and I am happy with them. The casters are rated at 275 lb and I think they are polyurethane. The whole saw weighs no more than 100 lb and is on a smooth concrete floor. I do not think the same casters would be OK with 1000 lb load, which is the rating for 4 casters.

                My application is absolutely non-critical as this saw would travel just a few feet per day. The caster wheels do not have bearings and it is OK in my case. Furthermore I am planning to install adjustable feet on all 4 corners to take the load during operation and prevent the saw from moving. You may want to do the same. This caster may be OK for you:
                You may want to search for one with higher load rating, but I would pay more attention to the wheel material. The hard plastic is my preference for a smooth concrete floor.


                • #9
                  I've used Harbor Freight castors. They work well enough that I haven't really thought about them.


                  • #10
                    A few points to note...
                    HF casters, the price has doubled in the last 2 years.
                    Thank you engineered disease and planned economic reset.
                    The wood furniture dollies have crap casters. Only one bearing
                    on the swivel axis instead of two bearings. Pure crap. The balls
                    will fall out in the first use for moving something heavy.
                    Now the plastic dollies with steel inner frame have double bearing
                    swivel wheels. If you want to steal the casters, buy the plastic/metal
                    frame model.

                    Last edited by Doozer; 05-22-2023, 08:47 AM.


                    • #11
                      I was chasing this same problem recently - mounting casters on a recently acquired burr king 760 with table. The grinder is about 130 lbs and the stand 125.

                      There is a lot of advice to avoid HF and amazon casters. Some menards casters are cheaper than HF. The best value and quality by far is to find good casters at industrial auctions. They go cheap. They are either bought for projects and not used, or spares. Casters are something you can visually tell wear in a picture - at least newness.

                      I agree with the need to protect wheels from spark blast - might need some fenders. I also think you'll want some kind of feet, to prevent movement. What's the point of a high power grinder if you can't lean into it heavy?

                      There are lots of casters with brakes on amazon. They look like junk. The brakes don't work. And when the swivel turns, the grinder moves - even if the tire is locked. There are lots of cheap wheel lifts, that raise the wheel and let your stand or bench sit on the floor. Those are tempting. But when you dig into the reviews you see the negatives are substantial and they mostly seem like junk for anything serious.

                      Good casters are $$.

                      Belt grinders usually hang off the edge of the cart, for free access and spark clearance. That can create an unbalanced tippy load. You could put non-swivel casters at that end. So at least there would be some rolling resistance.

                      Ultimately, a good jack screw or foot, that raises and lowers without hassle, is nice. Move the feet or move the casters? If you're at 500 lbs, your rig will resist some pressure due to the weight. It also means a simple foot mech to raise and lower will need some oomph. Maybe you could build a mech that depends on a single cheap pump jack to lever down some feet.

                      I have some nice casters I need to dig out of storage and I may use those. But I'm still not sure those will satisfy my desire to have a good way to get the cart resting on solid feet.

                      In the meantime, my belt grinder is ratchet strapped to a harbor freight dolly. Oh, the irony! It burns like an intense shower of hot sparks!


                      • #12
                        Personally I am actively dumping all my casters for one good set of casters, a pallet jack. Makes maintenance much more streamlined and they roll like butter rather than in 72 directions at once.

                        21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                        1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration


                        • #13
                          I have 2 pallet jacks.
                          A wide one and a narrow one.
                          Most all my machines are on 4" wood blocks.
                          My tool cabinets too.
                          Since my machines are on 4" blocks, on a few
                          that leak a bit of oil, I made up some sheet metal
                          pans that slide in between the wood blocks, to
                          catch any annoying oil (or coolant) drips.
                          My big long lathe, I moved into the shop with a
                          pallet jack on each end. Works slick as snot.
                          If you want only one pallet jack, start with the
                          small narrow one. I tend to use it more.
                          Some people will cry about leveling a machine and
                          the wooden blocks will make the fires of heII burn
                          brighter. I'll stick in some shim plates if it means
                          that much to me to have a machine level.
                          I never could see the need to own the Starrett
                          master $600 level.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by David Powell View Post
                            HI, I have had casters from Princess Auto, Harbor Freight.s equivalent ,here in Canada. So far I have had no problems, However, I take their weight ratings with a big grain of salt and reckon on about half the ratings as my maximum usual expected loading. Regards David Powell.
                            Better make that 25% I used some under a bandsaw and they're terrible. The movers dollies work fine for light loads.


                            • #15
                              I'm in the pallet jack crowd too. Way too handy for infrequently moved items, and when all your machine bases are pallet jack friendly it's very easy to moved and shift things around if needed. That said, for something like the grinder that you want to wheel outside to use etc, I'd go with 6-8" PU tired casters. Just 2 fixed ones a the back with a couple stick out handles to wheel it outside like a wheelbarrow, and save some money on casters. That's how I'd go about building it. They're big enough to roll over uneven ground, and not really that expensive (though not cheap).