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Rockler Universal Mobile Base
Economical motion for your shop
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
Mobile bases have become a valuable accessory in the smaller, often-shared woodworking spaces many of us use. However, the cost of equipping each machine with a mobile base can stop the budget in its tracks. Rockler's #92051 Universal Mobile Base kit is a cost-effective alternative.
The Rockler #92051 kit is made up of heavy steel material formed into strong, one-piece corner brackets. The hardware kit includes heavy-duty fasteners in the correct number to complete the base.
This kit features a detachable foot-operated caster that is equally well made. The caster attaches to the base with a pair of finger-tightened bolts so it can be used on multiple bases. Rockler offers a lower cost Universal Mobile Base kit that is identical to the one reviewed here except it does not include the lifting caster.
As is unfortunately common with imported products these days, the instruction sheet packed with the #92051 kit is poorly written to the point it is actually a little funny. Thankfully, the diagrams on the same single sheet are of decent quality, reasonably self-explanatory and make assembly easy. The important dimensions in the text survived the inept translation and provide the necessary information to complete the base correctly.
Making the Rails
The instructions say to measure the outside dimension of the machine base and add ½" to each for the final rail lengths. When looking at the diagrams, the rails on the sides to which the fixed wheels and adjustable feet will be mounted look as if they would have to be longer. Because of how the wheels are mounted, those rails are offset within the corner brackets. Adding the ½" to the actual dimension of that side of the machine base works perfectly.
The rails are cut from 1 ½" by 1 ½" square hardwood. I glued up ¾"-thick stock, making a lamination 1 ¾"-wide and a couple inches longer than needed to allow for jointing and trimming down to the
final size. During assembly I found that an extra 1/32"-deep pass over the jointer made the rails fit in the brackets easier. In addition, the top edges of the brackets have a small radius. A couple quick passes with a hand plane knocks enough off the rails allows them to seat completely.
If there is a trick to preparing the rails, it is drilling the holes relatively straight. The brackets are used to mark the locations for 7/16"-diameter holes that will accept 5/16"-diameter bolts so there is a fudge factor built in. I used a small drill press to help insure drilling straight through the rails and the bolts dropped in with no problem.
Initially, these base parts were used on my Delta Industrial jointer, (#37-195) which has a rather narrow cabinet. The Delta mobile base was backordered but I needed to make the jointer mobile as while it is moved infrequently, it is not light!
When the Delta mobile base for the jointer arrived, I made new wooden rails and reused the Rockler parts to make a mobile base for my Delta #46-715, Iron Bed Lathe. Though the lathe weights slightly more than 350 lbs with the tools and additions, I was concerned about the length. Poplar rails were glued up for the long rails with oak used for the shorter end rails. After putting the lathe in the Rockler base, the rails proved more than strong enough.
The Rockler #92051 Universal Mobile base is well built and designed, making it effective in adding mobility to your machines at a very reasonable cost.
Being able to transfer the lifting caster between machines is another good idea, especially if some of your equipment is moved infrequently.
With a price of $49.95 (7-20-2005) for the full kit with the lift caster (#92051) and $39.99 for (7-20-2005) the caster-less kit, (#35655) you can equip all the machines that need moving in your shop at a good price. The caster assembly alone is available at the same link at right. The heavy-duty construction of the kit means you should have to do this just once.
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