Expedient Caster Wrench

Cranked down as far as it would go, a new adjustable height workbench in Mary’s sewing room turned out to be just slightly higher than the other work surfaces adjoining it, so I replaced its 3 inch casters with 2 inch versions:

Sewing bench - 2 vs 3 inch casters
Sewing bench – 2 vs 3 inch casters

The bench arrived as a kit and included the 17 mm flat wrench required to snug the hex head on the 3/8-16 threaded stem atop the 3 inch caster against the bottom of the bench foot. The 2 inch caster also has a threaded stem, but of course it has a 14 mm hex head.

I traced around a 14 mm open-end wrench on a scrap of aluminum and introduced the outline to Tiny Bandsaw:

Improvised 14 mm caster wrench - rough cut
Improvised 14 mm caster wrench – rough cut

A little belt sander action cleaned up the outside, some hand filing matched the wrench to the hex, and it came out OK, even before I scrubbed the dirt off its white-ish pebble-finish coating:

Improvised 14 mm caster wrench - finished
Improvised 14 mm caster wrench – finished

The bare steel wrench arrived with the bench and has 13 and 17 mm openings. I briefly considered embiggening the 13 mm end, but came to my senses.

Aluminum isn’t a particularly good metal for wrench duty, but this one had to apply maybe 1/3 of a turn to each of four stems, stopping when snug, and it performed just fine. It’s now sleeping in the wrench drawer, dreaming of another job that may never arrive.

The smaller casters lowered the bench by about an inch, whereupon cranking the surface up a bit less than half an inch aligned it perfectly.

5 thoughts on “Expedient Caster Wrench

  1. A long time ago my ex-wife and I came up with the word “thrickle” to describe the cheaply made tools that came with self-assembly furniture. (A spoonerism of “Thrifty Nickle” as “Nifty Thrickle”)

    At the university where I recently worked I had a collection of thrickles collected from sixteen years of assembling furniture purchased by different departments. I really hope whoever cleans out my shop recognizes the importance of holding on to them and doesn’t pitch the box.

    1. Love the word!

      I generally put thrickles in the drawer where similar tools live, but I admit to losing track of which tool goes with which gizmo. Occasionally I come across a tool, obviously shop-made by my very own hands, and have absolutely no idea what I used it for. This is disturbing …

  2. What is a great name for such tools. I have a small pile of thrickles on a shelf in my shop. Occasionally I can remember what tool goes with what piece of furniture, but for the most part fixing something involves grabbing a handful of such tools and hoping that one of them fits whatever needs to be adjusted.

  3. Does your extensive collection of bicycle tools include a 14mm cone wrench?

    1. It does!

      I haven’t adjusted a bike hub bearing in so long the cone wrenches were hiding out of sight under other, more useful, bike tools in that drawer. Which is easier to say than “Day-am, I wish I’d’a remembered ’em!”

      Won’t throw out the improvised wrench, though …

      Thanks for the nudge. [sigh]

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