How to Lock a Swivel Caster: Best Practices
Victoria Forney

How to Lock a Swivel Caster: Best Practices

Caster rigs come in many shapes and sizes, from threaded stem casters to kingpinless swivel models. However, not all casters come with a brake or lock to stop movement, meaning that swivel casters can be dangerous. So, investing in a brake for your swivel caster or learning the proper method to lock it when not in use is a great idea. 

The caster experts at Caster Central have put together the following guide on how to lock a swivel caster. We have also included a short guide on caster brakes to help you determine the best locking solution for your equipment, furniture, etc. 

How to Lock a Swivel Caster

Here is a step-by-step process on how to lock a swivel caster effectively:

  1. First, must loosen the nuts on either side of the wheel's axle. Then, attach either a threaded or bolt-locking mechanism to the caster. 
  2. Some of the back legs of furniture include a hole that you can use to attach a locking mechanism for swivel rigs. If you find this hole, use a bolt to lock the rig. 
  3. If there is no hole in the back of your furniture's legs, you must use a threaded locking mechanism. Threaded locks require screws and washers rather than bolts to lock the caster.
  4. When using a bolt locking mechanism, lay the bolt on top of the hole in your furniture with the head facing the back legs. Thread the bolt onto the caster wheel, tightening it to the shaft of the caster and securing it with a nut. 
  5. When using a threaded locking mechanism, put locking washers on both ends of the screw and then screw the entire piece into the caster's axle.
  6. To unlock a swivel caster, all you need to do is remove the bolt or unscrew the screws that you attached to the axle.

What Is a Swivel Lock?

There are two categories of caster rigs, namely swivel and rigid casters. Rigid rigs allow the caster wheel to perform straight-line tracking but do not permit 360-degree movement. Swivel rigs, such as the high-quality swivel casters from Caster Central, allow both the wheel to move and the rig to turn in a 360-degree motion.

Swivel locks are small metal rings that you can attach to your swivel rig. To engage the swivel lock, you must rotate the ring to match a groove in the floor to prevent the vehicle or equipment from moving. Swivel locks typically include two tabs (or more) which will snap into place after you rotate the swivel lock, thus creating friction that will prevent motion. 

People most commonly use swivel locks for furniture that must lock and roll on demand. Sometimes, swivel locks can become clogged with dirt or rigid. So, to maintain swivel locks, clean them with a toothbrush and mild detergent and oil the moving parts to prevent them from sticking.   

Other Types of Caster Brakes

If you would like a more permanent braking solution so you can lock and unlock your caster with ease, you should consider the following braking options:

  • Side Lock Brake: Side lock brakes are weaker than other types as they function through a screwing motion. To activate this kind of brake, you must push down the brake (located on the side of the caster). The harder you push, the more force the brake will have, but still, these brakes are not recommendable for objects bigger than small equipment like a cart or bed. 
  • Tech Lock/Pedal Brake: These brakes focus on locking solely caster wheels. To operate a tech lock brake, you must press down on a pedal that will put pressure on a caster wheel to lock it. 
  • Total Lock Brake: This foot-operated swivel lock will lock the entire caster rig rather than just the wheel. Most of the time, you must operate a total lock brake with a pedal. This brake is ideal for heavy-duty applications, such as the transportation of heavy goods between warehouses.
  • Dead Man's Brake: A dead man's braking system is the most heavy-duty of all caster brakes and ideal for extremely heavy weight. This system works by connecting cables to rigid casters and locking the entire system when the vehicle is not in motion. The only way to disengage a dead man's brake is to squeeze a lever, ensuring that the equipment won't hurt anyone when out of use.
  • Floor Lock Brake: Floor lock brakes do not attach to casters. Instead, one must bolt this brake in the center of the cart or vehicle. To activate a floor lock brake, you must push down a lever, which will lower a foot that creates enough pressure to prevent the vehicle from sliding. 
  • Compression Brake: Compression brakes do not attach to casters. Instead, factories build this type of brake into the rig. When you apply weight to a compression brake, the locking mechanism will automatically engage and thus prevent the vehicle from moving. 
  • Decompression Brake: Decompression brakes work oppositely from compression brakes. So, if you do not apply weight to a caster rig with decompression brakes, the wheels will automatically lock. Both compression and decompression brakes are useful for applications such as office chairs. 

Looking for Premium Locking Swivel Casters?

If after learning how to lock a swivel caster you would like to invest in new brakes, caster hardware, or replacement rigs, check out the inventory at Caster Central. We have one of the biggest online caster selections in the country, meaning we can provide you with a solution for any type of vehicle or equipment that requires high-quality casters.

Caster Central has over 150 years of experience in materials handling solutions, so we guarantee that our stock will match your exact needs. To learn more about the Caster Central inventory or if you have any questions about what type of caster you should invest in, contact us at +1-800-445-4082 today. Alternatively, for more information on casters, such as the number of casters you need for your equipment, check out our blog!