How to Remove the Wheels on an Antique Dresser

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Antique dressers frequently have small wheels called casters attached to the bottoms of their legs. Functional as well as decorative, antique casters are typically made of wood, metal or porcelain and are anchored to the furniture legs with metal hardware. Eventually casters may need to be removed for cleaning, repair or replacement. Prepare the dresser by removing the drawers and placing the dresser upside-down on a soft blanket or furniture pad on the floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Blanket or furniture pad
  • Screwdrivers
  • Metal putty knife, optional
  • Soft cloth
  • Pliers
  • Awl or icepick

Screw Plate Casters

  • Match a screwdriver head to the screw slots on the screws that secure the caster plates. Loosen and remove all the screws in each screw plate; there are typically three or four.

  • Gently pull the screw plate from the bottom of the leg, which also pulls the attached caster stem from the hole. Try pulling with your hands first. If the stem is tightly embedded in the dresser leg, use pliers to gently pull it loose. Pull the caster straight out of the dresser leg without tilting the angle. Work carefully, as the aged wood may be brittle.

  • Insert the blade of a metal putty knife under the rim of the screw plate if you couldn’t remove the caster by pulling it. Gently pry up the edges on all sides of the screw plate. Rock the screw plate back and forth very gently if necessary to loosen the caster stem. Pull the caster and stem straight out from the leg.

Saw-Tooth Socket Casters

  • Push the tip of an awl or icepick into the crevice between two of the socket’s teeth. Pry the teeth from the wood. Move a few teeth over and repeat. Continue around the dresser leg until you’ve loosened the entire saw-tooth rim.

  • Grip the saw-tooth rim with a pair of pliers. Rock the rim back and forth a few times to loosen the socket.

  • Pull the socket straight up and out of the dresser leg. The ball-tip stem will emerge still inserted into the socket.

Cup or Ferrule Casters

  • Look for one or more screws around the sides of the cup or ferrule, which encases the end of the dresser leg. Turn the screws counterclockwise with a screwdriver, typically a flat-head. Remove the screws from the cup or ferrule.

  • Twist or rock the cup or ferrule to loosen it from the leg; heat and humidity can swell and warp the wooden legs.

  • Pull the cup or ferrule off of the leg. The caster is attached, so it removes as one piece.

Plain or Serrated Stem Casters

  • Twist the caster housing -- or the base of the stem if the caster swivels -- to pop a glue bond or loosen a serrated stem. Twist the stem base with pliers if you can't budge it with your fingers.

  • Pull the stem straight out when the twisting loosens it enough for removal.

  • Hold the stem base with pliers if it doesn't loosen. Gently wiggle the stem to enlarge the hole; serrated stems bite into wood and the wood expands into the stem grooves after years of heat and humidity. Pull the loosened stem straight up and out.

Tips & Warnings

  • To prevent scratching the caster or the surrounding wood, wrap the caster with a soft cloth if you use pliers.
  • If you plan to use the dresser without casters, check for metal remnants in the bottom of the leg. Remove them to protect your floors from scratches and rust. Clean out the stem hole in the dresser leg with an awl, then fill it by gluing a dowel rod in the recess. After the glue is dry, trim the dowel rod flush with the bottom of the leg using a finishing saw or a coping saw. Sand the bottom of the leg smooth. Alternatively, pack the hole with wood filler and sand it when dry.

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