My review of the Workcenter, it's a work in progress since I'm still figuring out how I'll be using it. I'm sure someone will ask so I'll address it now, I paid full price for the Workcenter just like the rest of you guys. You can check for updates on the WCR review on my site.
Anyhow, here's what I've got so far... Text and photos by Brice Burrell, copyright 2011 (except the Festool's product description of the Workcenter)
Review of the Festool Workcenter WCR 1000
The new Festool Workcenter is an accessory to help organize your workspace. It mounts to any of Festool's larger dust extractors, CT 22, 26, 33, 36 and 48 extractors, it's also compatible with the boom arm. In a nutshell, it's an adjustable platform for storing and organizing your tools and accessories with pegboard, tool hooks and shelves. I believe the Workcenter is going to change the way I view workspace organization.
A closer look at the Festool Workcenter
Let's take a closer look at the Workcenter. Festool lists the min. height as 21 1/2" and max. height about 31", that's without being mounted to a vac. On my CT26 it stands about 51" off the floor at max. height. There is a rotating shelf with adjustable height, a drill tool hook, a sander hook (will hold two sanders) and six hooks and one shelf for the pegboard.
In the video below I take a closer look at the WCR 1000.
The Festool Workcenter: The solution to my Problem?
I’m not too proud to admit I have a problem, a workspace clutter problem. My workspace at home is small and it’s rarely much different on my jobsites. As my projects get into full swing the tools and the accompanying accessories start coming out of their Systainers. The tools pile up until I end up knocking things off the table. Or I literally trip over them as I start stacking them on the floor in an attempt to get them out of the way. We’ve all run into this problem at one time or another and it really hampers productivity.
The dust extractor is the heart of the Festool system, so it only seems logical to center a work station around, or in this case, on the extractor. And that is just what the Workcenter is, a mobile and customizable work station for your Festool extractor.
Here's what Festool says about the Workcenter:Introducing an entirely new way to think about project workflow! The CT Workcenter WCR 1000 is designed to change the way you organize and arrange your workspace, helping you to work more efficiently than ever before. The CT Workcenter provides a convenient way to keep your tools and accessories close at hand, without cluttering your valuable workspace.
The CT Workcenter can be mounted easily to all of Festool's larger Dust Extractors, enabling freedom of movement throughout the shop or jobsite. The CT Workcenter features numerous options for hanging an assortment of tools and accessories, plus height adjustable columns, allowing for easy storage of task-specific Systainers, keeping critical items within arm's reach.
Okay, Festool's product description got me off to a good start but how can I adapt the Workcenter to fit my workflow and make it solve my workspace challenges?
First, let me talk about some of the options already available and why they don’t necessarily work for me. Festool has an outstanding tool storage solution, the Systainer. These uniform tool boxes are great at storing and transporting my Festool tools. I like the compact storage they offer and being able to clip a stack together to get my tools to and from the jobsite. But that’s where the convenience ends for me. Inevitably the tool I want will be in the middle of the stack, so I have to shuffle Systainers. With the tool and accessories inside some Systainers are overly crowded making it harder to get things in and out easily. I do believe the new T-Loc Systainers will be a big improvement and should make accessing the contents much easier, especially when stacked. Festool has the Sysport, a tool chest for Systainers to help make accessing your tools more convenience. This looks to be a nice way to store and organize Systainers without stacking them. However, the number of Sysports I’d need to organize my Systainers the pricing puts these outside of my means. Besides, they wouldn't travel easily to the jobsite. Of course there are things that help, the MFT/Kapex and roll board (Systainer cart) come to mind. I use the small MFT/Kapex as a place to store tools or stage area for materials during a project. Also, the roll board allows me to easily wheel around stacks of Systainers when they need to be relocated.
So, where does the Workcenter fit into all this? I getting to that, I promise, just bear with me a little longer. When a tool comes out (and the Systainer goes back on the shelf) it has to go somewhere when not in use. That usually is in the hose garage of the vac or on the MFT/Kapex-but those spaces fill quickly during a project. Now, this is where the Workcenter is going to come in, a place to store tools and accessories. Okay, thank you Captain Obvious.
Wait a minute, let me explain. You may have seen Festool’s promotional pictures and video for the Workcenter where they show it being used in an auto body shop. They have a sander, a cordless drill, a couple of Systainers, sandpaper and a few other small items that I joking refer to as knickknacks hanging on the Workcenter. I can’t help but feel the Workcenter would never be able to earn its keep if I couldn’t make better use of its potential. I envision using the Workcenter as platform to store numerous tools, far more than Festool shows the Workcenter holding. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
The Festool Workcenter: Power Tool Central
So, in the video you just seen I placed twelve tools and a few other items on the Workcenter. Even with that many tools it wasn't too crowded to easily access everything. Also, it's robust and isn't likely to tip over.
You may not want to store twelve tools on your Workcenter but you certainly could if you choose not keep your tools in Systainers. I’ll admit that if all the accessories that come with the tools were also on the WCR it would become quickly overrun. Realistically, you’d be able to get 4-6 tools with a full set of accessories without overcrowding.
In the picture above I have my four drawer Sortainer with the WCR to keep accessories organized. I have a piece of anti-slip matting to help to keep tools from sliding off the top. Also in the picture I have my mini compressor on the WCR with 23 gauge pinner. My Veto OT-LC tool bag also fits in the WCR dock, that thing is pretty heavy so it’s nice to be able to wheel it around.
In the video below I talk about some neat things I've figure out to do with the Wrokcenter.
The Festool Workcenter: The Tradeoffs
There are some tradeoffs for the convenience. One of the tradeoffs is a less mobile dust extractor. Wheeling the extractor/WCR around is no problem even fully loaded with tools. However, the WCR really needs to removed to carry extractor. Also, changing the filter bag in the vac is more effort with the WCR mounted on my CT26. With the older models CT22 and CT33 the WCR needs to taken off to change out the filter bag. Removing the WCR is very challenging in itself; it collapses quickly to its stored position. You do, of course, need to clear off most, if not all, of the tools to collapse and remove it from the vac. Another thing to keep in mind is the tool/Systainer dock on the WCR is a solid piece of plastic so you can’t reach the hose garage on the vac. I think the benefits of the Workcenter far outweigh these small inconveniences.
The Festool Workcenter: In Use/Closing Thoughts
I’ve not owned the WCR long so what I’ve written thus far is more of a first impression than an in-depth review. I have gotten to use the WCR for a couple of small projects at home and one in the field. Everything seems to be working out very well so far. I didn’t find the WCR hard to take to the job at all and once setup it was a real asset. You still need to make an effort to keep things organized on the Workcenter. Keeping the tools organized is easy but you need to pay some attention with what you do with the accessories to stay efficient. In other words, don’t be tempted to pile on the accessories until you’ve got a cluttered mess on your hands. While the Workcenter isn’t large enough to organize everything I’d need for all of my projects, it is a good first line of defense against my workspace clutter problem. It’s not that it just gives me a place to store tools out of the way; it helps me neatly organize them while still having them right at hand. I liken the WCR to the boom arm, it just makes life a lot easier. That has a real value to me.
I plan on adding updates to this review as I learn more at this new accessory. In the mean time you may want to check out Paul Marcel’s blog, Half-Inch Shy
for some good info and few informative (and fun) videos on the Workcenter.