Those Nasty Castors

Among the elements of Victorian furniture that Arts and Crafts designers did not always reject were castors. At first glance, they might seem like a good idea, enabling homeowners to move a heavy piece of furniture by themselves. But closer examination reveals the pitfalls they present.



A castor generally consists of two parts: the wooden wheel on a shaft and a metal sleeve inserted into a hole drilled into the bottom of the furniture. When an owner realized that the castors made the piece unstable, they could simply pull the castor out, leaving the metal sleeve still in the wood.



Later, an unsuspecting owner might slide the piece of furniture across the floor, leaving in its wake a deep scratch or gouge.



You might be one of those unsuspecting owners with metal sleeves still in the bottom of your furniture. If you find that is the case, you need to remove the sleeve. In addition to scratching your floor, if it ever gets wet, it can leave a rust stain on your flooring.


You can carefully do this using a flat-blade screwdriver and a hammer to pry it out. Go slowly and take care not to damage the wood.



Once it starts to emerge, grasp the sleeve with a pair of pliers and pull it the rest of the way out.



In addition to looking unsightly, leaving a castor in a heavy piece of furniture can cause enough stress when pushing it across the floor that the castor and sleeve can actually split the wood around it. If that happens, you will need to glue and clamp it.


Afterward removing the sleeves, you have three options, depending on the strength of the wood.


One, if the bottom of the foot is smooth, you may not need to do anything but stand it up and use it. But if the wood was weakened by the hole for the castor and sleeve, you should glue a dowel into the hole to strengthen the foot. Finally, you can attach a furniture glide or pad to the bottom of the foot or leg to protect your floor.


Regardless, it is never a good idea to slide or push any piece of furniture across the floor, especially if there is a chance the old sleeve is still in place.


Good Luck!


– Bruce Johnson