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I'm in search of ideas on this one. I'm looking to build a unit that sits on my electronics workbench that will hold a keyboard, mouse and monitor. I want the unit to easily slide off to the side of my bench for when I'm not actively using the PC. Here's a rough sketch of the idea.

enter image description here

I had originally planned to use a set of ball bearing rollers like the type pictured below. I quickly realized, however, that they focus the weight down to a small area creating enough pressure to dent the soft plywood surface on my bench.

example ball bearing roller

My next, and current idea is to use a set of plastic "furniture slides" like one might nail onto the bottom of chair legs. I'm sure that this will not glide across a table top as smoothly as I would like though.

I cannot got with swivel casters (which would be ideal) as they are simply to tall - I need to to be lower profile, at least in the front.

Does anyone have any ideas for a slide, caster, etc. that would work well for a tabletop application such as this?

  • how do you feel about having a large diameter wheel, caster or roller installed in a recess which protrudes into the upper area of your unit? The contact portion would be low profile, while the remainder of the rolling device would sit above the "floor" of the rolling assembly. – fred_dot_u Sep 23 '18 at 17:47
  • I like the idea of recessing the castor. That gave me a new idea to use a couple of recessed castors in the rear of the unit with possibly a handful of furniture slides along the front edge. I could then lift the front of the unit to re-position. I added a sketch of my idea to my question. – julienj Sep 29 '18 at 4:07
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My next, and current idea is to use a set of plastic "furniture slides"

As I was reading the opening sentences of your Question my first thought was Teflon or similar low-friction glides.

However even those may dent, or otherwise mark, the surface of softer plywood because the contact area is small and it will focus the weight onto a relatively small area. I think the only way to find out for sure would be to do a test with the appropriate weight. In short you might need to try it to see whether it'll work.

Just from handling cheaper plywoods I do think some marking is more likely than not, but plywoods vary widely and the total weight may not be as much as I'm envisaging.

I'm sure that this will not glide across a table top as smoothly as I would like though.

Again a test would tell you what you'll get, but waxing the surface of the desk would help with this.

Waxing is regularly relied on in woodworking to provide an easy-sliding surface quality and sometimes in situations where otherwise there'd be significant drag (e.g. metal on metal as in power tool mitre slots) and it can be amazing how much difference it makes.

You can use standard paste furniture wax for this.

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    Slides are available in various diameters, so it should be possible to get them in a sufficiently large size so as not to dent the surface. Combining a proper sized slide with the waxed surface sounds like a perfect solution. – Ast Pace Sep 24 '18 at 5:48
  • @AstPace, good point. In addition I took the wrong inference from something the OP said and thought there'd be legs but if there aren't legs or feet but just a flat bottom any number of slides can be applied to spread the load as much as necesssary. – Graphus Sep 24 '18 at 13:17
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I want the unit to easily slide off to the side of my bench for when I'm not actively using the PC

I get a sense that if you're not using the PC, you're doing electronics, and by virtue of that there will be all sorts of little bits of solder, stripped wires, and resistors lying about and preventing the wheels to rotate. You might also have to deal with rolling over the 2-3 power or network cables that will be dangling at the back.

Have you considered something that clamps to the side of the desk, that is elevated, and that has an elbow, like an IKEA desk lamp, which would allow rotation, panning, and vertical movement? This would have the advantage that you could also stow things underneath the PC shelf on the desk. You could mount your shelf onto this.

Please don't crucify me because there's no wooden parts in this image, but something like this:

enter image description here Image from MountIt! amazon

You could still mount your wooden project box on it. Your question is specifically about casters rolling and gliding, but what I'm proposing here is essentially very low friction hovering along your desk.

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