How Are Caster Swivel Locks Installed: The Complete Guide
Victoria Forney

How Are Caster Swivel Locks Installed: The Complete Guide

Many business owners don't often think about swivel casters in their day-to-day business operations and might not know much about caster swivel lock technology. If your business uses office furniture, carts, pallets, heavy cabinets, or movable equipment, you could greatly benefit by learning more about caster swivel locks.

The experts at Caster Central provide this installation guide to help business owners appreciate caster technology. Our team can help you use casters to improve your business's bottom line.

What Are Swivel Casters?

Swivel casters consist of wheels that can move 360 degrees attached to a piece of furniture or equipment. Unlike rigid casters, the wheels do not have to point in a particular direction. For example, if you are pushing a cart with a light on the front of it, swivel casters would allow you to push the cart sideways while the light continues pointing forward.

Types of Swivel Casters

Customers can choose from various types of swivel casters, which differ in terms of their:

  • Caster mount design
  • Caster composition
  • Caster wheel design
  • Caster wheel materials

Some casters have additional features such as dual wheels, grooved wheels, caster bearings, and pneumatic wheels. One feature that has practical value for many applications is the caster swivel lock.

The Function of Caster Swivel Locks

In some circumstances, you might want a caster to move only in a specific direction. For example, suppose you need to move a cart along a narrow path, and the cart might sustain damage if it deviates from that path. Wheels that do not lock could give the cart greater stability, making it easy for employees to push the cart in a straight line.

Caster swivel locks are useful for heavy-duty applications where the weight of loads can make them challenging to maneuver safely. With a caster swivel lock in place, you can achieve better control and straight-line tracking when moving items from one place to another. Once you have the item at its new location, you can disengage the swivel lock for full-range movement as you position it in place.

The Design of Caster Swivel Locks

The caster lock has a plunger that fits into one of four notches in the caster mount. It also has either a hand-operated or foot-operated control that engages or disengages the caster swivel lock.

Caster swivel locks attach to the caster where it attaches to the cart or piece of furniture, essentially at the point where the swivel action would take place. The lock mounts to the cart or equipment and has a piece that inserts into a notch in the caster assembly. With the lock in place, the caster will no longer swivel and will behave like a rigid caster. 

Swivel caster locks attach to the wheel using one of two mechanisms, a bolt or a threaded screw. Although the mechanism of action is essentially the same for both lock types, the installation process differs.

Before you buy swivel locks for casters, note the caster brand and model. A caster lock for one type of caster will generally not fit a different caster. If you plan on purchasing new casters, try to obtain caster locks and casters as a matched set.

Casters with swivel locks often also come with hand-controlled or foot-controlled brakes. These brakes attach to the wheels and prevent them from turning when you engage them.

The Installation Process for Caster Swivel Locks

The type of caster lock attachment you will use depends on the features of the caster. If the caster has threads to insert a screw at the back of the caster, use a threaded caster swivel lock. If your caster has a hole for a bolt instead of threads, use a bolt to attach the swivel lock.

Depending on the caster's position relative to the furniture, the leg of the furniture could have a hole to allow a bolt to pass through it and hold the caster lock in place. If you see a hole in the furniture, you can use that to mount the swivel lock.

Due to the differences in the dimensions and design of casters by different manufacturers, there is no universal set of screws, bolts, and equipment for installing caster swivel locks. Be sure you have compatible hardware before trying to install caster swivel locks.

Engaging and Disengaging Caster Swivel Locks

Once the caster swivel locks are in place, you can switch between locked and unlocked positions using the control. When you use a hand-controlled lock, pull back on the ring and rotate the control. To operate the foot control, place the foot pedal in the up position to engage the swivel lock and press down on the foot pedal to disengage the lock.

Alternative Ways to Control Caster Stability

Swivel locks are an effective way to provide stability, but you can also make your conveyances easier to control without installing a caster swivel lock on all of the wheels. For instance, you can:

  • Mounting two rigid casters and two swivel casters instead of four swivel casters
  • Using wider caster wheels
  • Using smaller caster wheels 

Larger caster wheels have higher ground clearance, which can provide more control on uneven terrain. 

The need for stability versus maneuverability can also influence your choice of wheel material, stem vs. plate casters, and other caster features. Do not hesitate to ask for professional advice if you cannot find the caster swivel lock you need or if you need assistance choosing between different types of casters.

Buy Quality Swivel Casters with Locks from Caster Central

The best way to install casters and caster swivel locks is to purchase quality materials from established and trusted manufacturers. You can rely on these experts in caster technology to guide you to the right choice for your business.

For professional advice on affordable caster, wheel, and material handling solutions by Caster Central, call 1-800-445-4082 and explore the Caster Central website today. Our experts are here to assist with installing caster swivel lock mechanisms and choosing the best caster wheels.