Even if you’re a well-rounded handyman (or woman), you may not realize that there’s a difference between a caster and a wheel. They both roll, and unless you need to replace one or the other, knowing the difference probably hasn’t mattered.
However, if you’re ever in a position that you do need to replace a caster or a wheel, you will quickly find that there is a BIG difference.
Luckily for you, we can answer the question “What are casters?” pretty quickly. In addition to answering this question, we’re going to tell you the main differences between a caster and a wheel. This will make your life much simpler if you find yourself in a situation that calls for one of these items!
Wheels Go Round and Round
There are probably very few people in the world that are unfamiliar with the wheel. These round disks are used on everything from shopping carts to the cars we drive.
Wheels are round, disk-like objects that have a hole somewhere near the center to allow for a spindle or an axle.
If you think back to middle or high school science classes, you might remember that the wheel and axle is one of the six simple machines. This means that is is one of the most basic designs there is that makes work easier.
What Are Casters?
If a wheel and axle make work easier by moving objects, what are casters and how are they different?
A caster is the housing to a wheel that will allow for it to be attached to the object that needs to be moved.
There are several types of casters available, but generally can be broken down into swiveling and rigid options. Swiveling casters allow for wheels to rotate freely and maneuver tight corners.
Rigid casters only allow for back and forth movement but can be turned with enough force. These are usually found on moving dollies.
Purchasing the Correct Caster for the Job
Once you’ve narrowed down whether or not you’d prefer swiveling or rigid casters, there are a few other considerations to be made.
Depending on the weight of the item you’re moving, you may need Heavy Duty Casters. These casters can bear up to 15,000 lbs–which isn’t a job for the average caster from a hardware store.
Another important thing to ponder is whether or not you’ll need brakes. Although these aren’t mandatory, they can prevent any unintended rolling.
Casters and Wheels
The invention of the wheel and axle may have changed history and has definitely made our lives better. Unfortunately, there are only so many applications for a wheel without having the ability to attach it to something.
This is where the caster came into play. This ‘housing’ of sorts allow us to sit comfortably in office chairs, shop with ease, and haul thousands of pounds effortlessly through warehouses.
So, if you ever hear someone ask, “What are casters?”, you’ll now have an answer for them and maybe a new appreciation!
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