I would like to put my 3 ft x 1 ft x 2 ft shelves on wheels. They will be used to hold books in my classroom so they need to be fairly sturdy. However the wood is only 3/4 in thick. What kind of wheels should I use?

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    We need more information. Is the floor carpeted? tiled? wood? Should the shelves move in any direction or just back and forth?
    – David D
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 19:14
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    Weight of the shelves? Picture of them would be fantastic. Are you trying to attach wheels to the bottom of vertical boards or does this have a "bottom"?
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 19:16
  • Some photos of the bottom of your shelving would help.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 19:26
  • The floors are tiled. The wheels would ideally move in all directions. I trying to attach them to the bottom shelf/vertical board. (The bottom shelf covers these boards but the nails could go up into them.)
    – Emily
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 20:54
  • @Emily Nails are not the correct fasteners for casters. And the bottom of the shelving unit needs to be sturdy enough to handle the stress's of movement. We need to know specifically how your shelves are built, that is why a photo would be most helpful.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


Bookshelves are not designed to be trolleys!

They will tear themselves apart if casters are put on the corners.

I would have a 1" plywood deck to be a "chassis" that carries the dynamic forces between the casters. Fasten the casters to the plywood deck, then fasten the deck to the bookshelf. Normal wood bookshelves are not meant to roll around, and do not have the physical strength needed to sustain the dynamic forces of being rolled around.

If you've ever pushed a cart on casters, and had it jump or stop abruptly when it hits a low spot, doorway threshold, pebble or pavement crack -- then you have met the dynamic forces I mention. Your generic IKEA tier plywood/engineered-wood bookshelf just can't handle that.

For that matter, you may have a problems with books blowing through the thin back sheet on most bookshelves. You might replace that with 1/4" luaun plywood and lots of wood screws, and predrill them especially if they're going into engineered wood or particle board.

Casterwise, you want the smallest wheels possible. The problem is, larger wheels mean the center of the wheel is farther inset from the edge, and that means the actual footprint of the wheels is getting smaller and smaller. 1" wheels = 11x23" footprint. 4" wheels = 8"x20" footprint. 8" wheels = 4"x16" footprint. Too small a footprint makes the bookshelf increasingly "tipsy" when being transported, so instead of stubbing its toe, the bookshelf may fall over.


Books are heavy, so heavy-duty casters are what you need. You will need a set of 4. Typically you get two with brakes and two without brakes so that you can easily lock it in position (especially important with kids). Something like this:

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plus you will need a bunch of wood screws - heads larger than the holes, as long as possible up to the actual thickness of the wood. You may want to add additional wood to the corners in order to be able to use longer screws.

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    Since the wood's a bit thin, consider attaching wood pieces to the bottom of the shelves to make the bottom thicker where the casters attach. (Glue and screw the wood to the bottom of the shelves, then the casters go through the wood.) Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 20:21

Consider whether a ready-made furniture dolly might fit the footprint you need. If the dollies you find are too large, choose one constructed in such a way that it could be disassembled, cut to size, and re-assembled. Think of it as a parts kit. It's often the case that a set of four casters costs about the same as an assembled dolly. The shelf could be reinforced and attached to the dolly as recommended in Harper's answer.

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