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JOEL Joel's Blog

Urban Expansion - the Centipede Work Surfaces

02/01/2023

The Centipede 2'x4' table in our showroom - only 30
The Centipede 2'x4' table in our showroom - only 30" tall; most people seem to want the taller 36" model

As some of you know, I'm deeply suspicious of any woodworking tool invented after 1913. (That being said, I've developed a few such tools myself, so I guess I'm inconsistent.) But recently we added the very light and portable Bora Centipede to our line up and it's worth calling it to your attention.

We have been selling Festool power tools for 15 years or so, and the MFT/3 table has always been a popular seller. People love having a portable work surface. A few years ago Festool introduced the STM 1800 Mobile Sawing Table, which basically allows you to support a full sheet of plywood and slice it up. When you're done, the table can be folded up for portability and storage. I don't know about the rest of the country, but this table was very appealing in NYC.

An interesting aspect of running a hardware store in the middle of New York City, or really any kind of business in NYC, is how much the cost of real estate affects the business. Consequently while there are many workshops in the city, they are mostly pretty small with carefully allotted space. In addition, lots of people work on site, in someone else's shop, or in their apartments. Space juggling is pretty common. So many shops have workstations that need to be set up or torn down if not being used, simply because there just isn't that much space that be be left dormant between task.

As far back as I can remember, I was routinely told that the primary difference between a carpenter and a cabinet maker is that a carpenter bends down to the level of the material and a cabinet maker raises up the material to work at a comfortable height. Obviously it's not 100% true. A carpenter working on site doing something like toe-nailing a board onto the floor has to be at the floor. The single most grueling job I've ever done in my life was probably helping someone put drywall on a ceiling. (Standing on a scaffolding, with your hands over your head, holding a big piece of drywall against the ceiling with one hand while you're trying to run a drywall screwdriver with the other, and not dropping anything! I think it was the most physically exhausting job I have ever done).

So the idea of temporary space management caught my eye and the Centipede is probably best in breed for this type of tool. Strangely (to us), the literature for the Centipede features some guy on a construction site setting up a Centipede in the middle of a big space. I do understand the appeal - for example, if you are putting up drywall, it's great to be able to lay out and cut a sheet on a Centipede on a workbench high surface rather than put it on the floor, lay it out, cut it and then have to pick it off the floor. This saves time too.

But the reason I thought that New Yorkers would really like the Centipede was to expand their shop capacity. We carry the whole line, up to 4'x'8 tables, but our most popular size by far is the 2'x 4'. And what's more interesting is that the 2'x 4' table comes in two heights: 30" and 36". Nationwide the 30 inch table outsells the 36" by a lot. Our rep said that he didn't know if we should even stock the 36" initially. We did, and we learned that in New York City a 36" tall Centipede is the cat's pajamas. This hints that people here are not using it for traditional purposes but rather they're using it to give themselves a proper height workbench surface. I think that choosing a lower height for the larger tables (up to 4'x 8') makes a lot of sense because typically they're engaged when you're cutting up something, and height of the saw on top of it takes you to the right height at 30". The 36" high seems to be kind of the urban height. For all you Festool fans, we chose evenly spaced metric (20 mm) dog holes for the CK22TM tabletop in order to be fully compatible with all Festool MFT accessories.

If you actually need a 30" x 2'x 4' table, don't be shy. The locals are shunning them and we ship nationwide.

By the way, we have many visitors from all over the world, including folks from various parts of the country visiting their kids who have moved to Brooklyn. We caught one such visitor, a carver from Texas, admiring the shavehorse made from Pate's knockdown shavehorse plans, and we showed her its features. She said, "Oh honey, I don't need space savers. I live in Texas."

Join the conversation
02/01/2023 Jason
About the drywall...

You didn't use a drywall lift? Masochistic much?
02/01/2023 Ray Bowers
Unrelated question.... Do you have a picture of how small Pate Works Knockdown Shave Horse is when folded up? I checked out the hardware kit you have, but it only shows the thing fully set up!
02/01/2023 Jay Simmons
Regrettably I purchased my 2’x4’ Centipedes before the 36” version was available. So as with age and back problems I have raised all the work surfaces in my shop. Added the 6” risers to both Centipedes. Work great.
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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