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Dale Baldwin

Home Improvement : Casters Add Mobility to Workshop Tools

September 15, 1985

No matter how large your workshop is, having equipment that is easy to move around is a good idea. If--like most of us--you work in tight quarters, such mobility is a necessity.

Many power tool stands come with accessory casters. For example, the Craftsman line from Sears offers sturdy, easily attached casters that fasten to the accessory stands, allowing a table saw or jointer or band saw to be moved around, with a threaded mechanism that lowers the legs of the stand to the floor for stability.

If you can't obtain casters, try making your own. When I recently acquired a new table saw, it came without casters, so I cut a sheet of scrap three-quarter-inch plywood the same size as the bottom of the stand, bolted lockable pivoting casters to each corner and bolted the unit to the bottom of the stand using holes already drilled.

Look for the proper locking, swiveling casters at a hardware store or builder supply outlet. Mine cost about $4 each and have brakes to keep the rubber wheels from turning.

This idea isn't original with me; I saw it in a workshop/power tool book years ago. So far, I have a similar setup on a band saw and I plan to add casters to my jointer. When the garage is used as a workshop, the tools can be moved around readily. On the rare occasions when a car is stored there, the tools can be wheeled off to one side.

Speaking of power tools, the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens Wood magazine has an excellent article on hearing protection in the workshop. A table saw can generate 96-99 on the dBA (decibel A) scale, while jointers and planers are in the 103-118 level, according to the article.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration says that hearing loss can occur after 16 hours of exposure at 85 dBA noise, after eight hours of 90 dBA, after four hours of 95 dBA, after two hours of 100 dBA and after a mere 15 minutes of 115 dBA!

Ear plugs and ear muffs are rated in the article. The muffs give better protection and last for years. According to Bob Moore of Ace Hardware, 17729 Vanowen St., Reseda, ear muffs that reduce noise by 25 dBA sell for less than $13 in his store. This is small protection indeed for something as precious as hearing.

The article cites a survey of Iowa industrial arts teachers showing that 54% of those polled had a job-related hearing loss. Amazingly, only about 3% of the teachers queried said that they always wore hearing protection devices in their often noisy shops. Iowa and many other states now require such devices for both students and teachers.

I've mentioned Wood magazine in past columns and continue to recommend it without reservation to serious woodworkers. According to Better Homes & Gardens, the base ciruclation is now 300,000--double the initial 150,000 when the effort was launched a year ago. Each issue contains material that is well written and beautifully illustrated. Projects, tool and equipment reviews, shop hints are all covered.

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