Have you ever thought about what makes a tool great? Chances are descriptions like reliable, consistent, easy to use, and convenient come to mind, but the ability to serve multiple functions across a wide variety of builds and projects is the one thing that can make almost any tool seem great. Multi-functional tools are great, but tools that have multiple uses that you dream up and create yourself, now those are the best.
I have a large shop across the street from my house that was included in the purchase of our home. I have always dreamed of having a large shop and truth be told, we more than likely would not have purchased our home and property had the shop not been there. Eager as I was to begin my numerous projects in my new shop upon moving I had to complete some much needed set-up and maintenance first. All of the light ballasts that were attached to the 14ft high ceiling were bad and I needed to install a storage platform to get all of my junk out of our new dining room. So to kill two birds with one stone, I combined the projects and built this…….
What is this you ask? Simple, it is a ladder/scaffold/storage platform/lookout tower/elevated stage hybrid……..On casters. Before I built this bad boy I knew that I would have to figure out a safe way to change the light ballasts so I quickly began to research rolling ladders and quickly realized that I was not able to spend the money for one at the time. My next bit of research was done on scaffolding and I quickly found out that I would not be getting a scaffold either. Lastly, I logged on to check out the price of 14 ft A frame ladders and started to sweat as I was running out of options and could not work in the dark.
After finding out I would blow my storage platform budget on an A frame ladder to change the ballasts a light bulb went off (my shop remained dark though). I ran to my computer and googled giant wooden rolling platforms (not my exact search term) and to my surprise, nothing. A few wooden scaffold builds were found on various sites and YouTube, but I could find no evidence of anyone being dumb enough to try and make an 8x8x10ft tall wooden platform roll. So with no instruction or guidance from the world wide web of information I headed to the home improvement store to get the materials needed to make my dumb idea a dumb reality.
The platform build was a piece of cake, it is just an 8×8 platform framed with 2x6s with joists 16″ on center. The legs are 4x6x8s and were physically tough to attach to the platform with no help and not being cemented or bolted for stability, but other than having to get creative when bolting the platform to them, it was not exactly brain-busting.
The mental strain came with trying to figure out how I would attach the heavy duty casters to the bottom of each 4×6. I could not lag screw the casters to the bottom because the bolt pattern on the caster’s steel plate was larger than the bottom area of the 4x6s, not to mention I am certain that all the weight on the lag screws would only strip them out and split the wood quickly. I needed a way to bolt the casters to something that could support the bottom of the 4×6 and then be bolted through the 4×6 posts. Below was my solution.
I went to my scrap metal pile and grabbed some 2×4 rectangle tubing and some 7 inch channel iron and went to work. I cut the channel iron and welded two pieces of it together so that it fit snuggly around the bottom of each 4×6 then I drilled three bolt holes through each. I then traced the caster bolt plate pattern onto the 2×4 rectangle tubing and drilled the bolt holes in the tubing. I welded the channel to the top of the rectangular tubing, bolted the casters to the bottom, and installed my brackets onto each one of the 4x6s.
It has been a few years since I completed this build and I have plenty of junk piled up on my ladder/scaffold/platform, but it is holding up great. I do not roll it around very often but every time I do it works great. Changing the ballasts and bulbs at 14ft is a piece of cake when you have the comfort of a 64 square foot area to work on.
I am not suggesting that you attempt to recreate this build, but if you do or know someone that does here is some info and advice, I am not responsible or liable for any accidents, brace the crap out of it, and please send me pictures when the build is complete.
I do suggest however, that if you are building a rolling work bench, table, or platform that is much closer to the ground, you check out these casters that I used for this project. Each caster has its own brake and each individual caster is load rated for 1000lbs. They have held up great and I consider them to be a steal at under $60 for all four.
For more product information, reviews, pricing, and specs on these casters click here.
My ladder/scaffold/storage platform has served me very well and saved me money on having to both buy a ladder and build a storage platform in my shop. I know that it is not beautiful, but it is super multi-functional, and that was the goal I was looking to achieve. below are a few more pictures of the beast. Thanks for reading.
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Jake with tool-school.com